Our team just got into the groove of using collaborative software (Asana) for clarifying project requirements. There was the initial buzz that typically surrounds the introduction of a new tool and everyone was (and still is) quite excited to get on board with it. The benefits are undeniable. We are able to collaborate more; project information and key decisions are more easily passed across; and each member of the team knows exactly what the next person is working on, what tasks are outstanding, what tasks are in the pipeline and what phase the project is at.
Collaboration in the workplace is not an easy task no matter how you look at it. You can have a group of people who share the same values, character and attitude towards work...and still fail at getting things organized.
If things start slipping out of control, don't scratch off the problem as a dead-end street. There is a huge pool of tools and applications that can provide solutions to collaboration challenges. Such is the joy of living in a technology-powered age!
Okay, I'll cut to the chase. What I wish to accomplish in this article is an introduction to five collaboration software tools which happen to be free. They have wide and varied uses, but there's something they all share: your team can use them to improve collaboration.
AdvanSeez prides itself with simplicity and accessibility. What I especially like is that the software is divided into two modules. One is the strategic planning module for decision-making and the other is the action plan module. With this application, you can clearly differentiate between processes and bring your work on each of them together. “Separate, but complementary”, AdvanSeez emphasizes.
Are you keen on flowcharts, organizational charts, mock-ups and modelling in general? If you find yourself nodding in agreement, then Lucidchart may become a favourite of yours.
Aside from being an all-around make-me-a-chart solution, the software provides neat customizability of shapes and styling. It also has Google docs' integration and you can track and change any diagram simultaneously with your team. It functions as a collaboration software in the purest sense.
Actually, Basecamp is one of the top project collaboration software tools that business analysts can use on project teams and it comes with a 60-day free trial. It is perfect for:
Tracking the progress of a project
Collaborating on documents
Performing deadline/due date checks
You can think of it as a convenient organizer for all project needs.
While LucidChart is for the chart geeks, Podio is a customization fanatic's best friend. This is a customizable tool for collaboration purposes. The software lets you match apps to your company's unique vision. If you happen to be from a company with operations that differ a lot from the standard structure of corporate operations, this is the solution for you.
For maximum reach when collaborating, Podio is integrated with both Dropbox and Google apps. BAs can also fire up one of Podio's many predefined apps.
Yonix is “built by business analysts for business analysts”. It's a more sophisticated tool with a universe of options to explore. With Yonix, you can:
Save and work with your documentation
Establish requirements and analyze them
Upload, share and link files to projects
Discuss and collaborate, add and invite team members/stakeholders to your project
Create dictionaries, references and set up rules
These are just a subset of Yonix's complete features.
All these five tools are extremely helpful in collaborative environments. Some of them serve specific needs and excel where others are lacking. Define your project and general needs as a business analyst and pick any one of these (or any other useful collaborative tool you discover, actually). Just don't skip making your life a bit easier. Technology is certainly one of a business analyst's best friends.
"Team Work" Picture by renjith krishnan/Freedigitalphotos.net