5 Affordable Tools Best Suited for Small Business Collaboration

Business.com / Technology Solutions / Last Modified: February 28, 2017

Need to collaborate better? Here are some of the most cost-effective tools that small businesses should consider using.

There are at least two things that small organizations and multinational corporations have in common: unwavering ambition and strong team spirit. Though growth is impossible without both, fruitful collaboration is usually what sets the pace. Whether it numbers dozens of well-coordinated employees or a couple of hard-working ones, a team should be an unstoppable machine in which every part contributes to the ultimate goal. And, when teammates cannot do it all by themselves, automated offices can help a great deal.

Thankfully, not all collaboration tools are expensive. Cheaper solutions with similar features to those used by larger enterprises are available, and the only thing you need to do is identify and compare. Here’s where to start.

Familiar, but Improved: Microsoft Office 365

Just like the rest of your team, you probably grew up using Word, PowerPoint and Excel. For so many generations, Microsoft has been a leading provider of fundamental office tools. Now, it offers a highly functional, efficient, and uncostly browser-based version for all aspiring teams to use at their convenience.

The principle is the same, only improved. Instead of creating and editing your documents in offline mode, you can now do all that directly on the web. The difference is huge – like with Google Docs, colleagues can co-create documents simultaneously. Along with storage space (1TB per user), seamless file sharing and mobile accessibility, Microsoft Office 365 offer email and video conferencing features as well.

The Business Essentials plan costs $5.00 per user on a monthly basis, while the Business Premium plan provides an enriched package with online scheduling and mobile apps for $12.50.

Social Intranet Solution: Bitrix24

Until recently, small teams used social media like Facebook for an instant, work-related chat. Faster than email, this collaborative solution quickly developed into social intranets. In this regard, Bitrix24 is a feature-rich tool which comes with an affordable price tag.

What news feed is for social media, activity stream if for Bitrix24. The team can share important updates that can be viewed by all, thus securing transparency and managing workflow with ease. Along with project management and social media integrations, the package encompasses private conversations, document sharing, to-do lists and email features as well.

The unlimited Professional plan can be acquired for $199 per month. You can forgo features like time management and reports for the way cheaper Standard plan and pay $99 on a monthly basis.

Capture, Share and Apply Knowledge: ProProfs

Whether it comes to internal improvement or customer satisfaction, actionable knowledge is crucial for small and large businesses alike. Being a centralized platform that collects, stores and organizes information, ProProfs knowledge base software certainly deserves a place on your collaboration tools list.

The idea behind this tool is to make information accessible to anyone. In terms of collaboration, ProProfs knowledge management software uses a comprehensive approach to building and manage private wikis. Everything your teammates need to know is made available with only a few clicks. The same can be used for developing mobile-responsive self-service knowledge bases, FAQs, documentation and manuals that your customers can use as per their convenience.  

Serving as both a collaboration tool and a customer support system, the Enterprise plan costs ranges from $18 to $1,191 per month, depending on the package size.

Workflow Management: Asana

When business gets complicated, Asana comes to the rescue. Thanks to its clean interface and productivity-boosting features, this solution is one of the most popular alternative tools for project management and team collaboration.

Asana doesn’t deliver anything different, though. Task management, private and public project conversations, progress dashboards and group calendars are all included in the package, along with integrations with Dropbox, Slack and Google Drive, among many others. If an impeccable workflow is what your team strives to achieve, this effective toolkit is a great solution.

Get started for free and eventually upgrade to the Premium plan. The monthly fee is $8.33 per user, but Asana offers additional discounts for small teams.

Personal Office Builder: Podio

When it comes to online offices, plenty of small businesses chooses Podio as their go-to team management solution. It does not follow the same approach adopted by the rest of the similar tools but incorporates essential feature such as document sharing, seamless communication and more.

One of the key advantages of this collaborative tool is the possibility to create an endless number of internal networks. Podio functions as an open workspace environment to which anyone can be invited on a need-basis. It’s perfect for teams that work remotely and need a platform where they can discuss projects and share information in real time.

And, like any other productivity tools, this can be customized as well. Simply pick a visual approach your teammates respond to the best and choose one of four available plans to start with.  Most frequently used by small companies, the Premium package is priced at $24 per user per month.

Depending on your business model and end goal, you’ll need at least one of these in order to form a compact team that always delivers. Choose project management features if your ventures are complex. Task management is more suitable for organizing day-to-day operations, while wiki software systems and live chat guarantee uninterrupted flow of information. Experiment with demos and free versions before you make a final decision, and rest assured that flawless collaboration always pays off, even when it is light on the pocket. 

Photo credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

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