Top 5 Tools for Distributed Project Teams
Here at Cinergix we’ve been working together from different office locations around the world to create, market and support the best online diagramming software – Creately. We spend hours sitting in front of our computers each day working across vast distances and timezones and it can sometimes be a challenge getting everyone on the team working together effectively.
So over the last year, we’ve experimented with a large number of online services to help us work better and support our customers in the best possible way. In each solution we looked for just the right amount of functionality to help us work better without drowning in too much process and too many systems.
Here we’ve distilled the top 5 tools (mostly online tools) that we’ve come to rely on to keep the Creately engine chugging along nicely. They cover everything from project management tools to customer support systems, but each one offers the ease of use and simplicity that we find so important in keeping our team focused on the job at hand.
Thanks to @Hiraash for his suggestions and I hope you’ll find these tools useful for your project teams. If you’ve got any other suggestions that you think will be useful for other web startups and project teams, we’d love to hear from you.
Wrike is a web-based project management tool, and the great thing about it is that it comes with a fantastic Gantt chart view that knocks the pants off any other web based PM tool. @Chandika is a big fan cos he loves the fact that the Gantt chart view gives everyone a good idea of the inter dependencies across the projects we work on here at Creately. Unlike most other recent web-base PM tools that have a strong social collaboration angle, Wrike offers a solid PM tool in the same vein as MS Project, but its pricing is a tad on the high side.
TeamViewer is an easy to use screen-sharing application that’s Free and works really well. I’ve tried sharing my screen with Skype and other web-services but none have performed as well as TeamViewer. Everyone I’ve recommended it to loves it. And it doesn’t just stop there. Teamviewer lets remotely control another computer – even through firewalls. This is an essential tool we use everyday at Creately. Thanks to @Aslam for bringing this to the team.
For the uninitiated, Creately is a web-based diagramming software that comes with built in tools for easy, secure collaboration. With an extensive library of shapes, Creately supports many diagram types. Naturally we use Creately in-house – mostly for concept diagrams, flowcharts and mockups. Its great for getting those ideas nailed down quickly in a diagram – and really helps bring clarity to the team.
PS – We released a beta version of a Creately Plugin for the Fogbugz platform this week, which makes it easy to add any type of diagram to your Fogbugz cases and Wiki to clearly explain requirements to your team. You can check it out here.
Zendesk provides a customer support portal solution includes email support with a built-in knowledge base. We chose it for it elegant interface and the ease with which we can track support support issues and deliver the type of customer service our customers talk about. It also worked great for providing 24/7 round the clock support that is being handled across 2 locations. There are a host of other customer support systems out there that actually deliver more functionality at a lower price, but we’re sold on their “Love your Helpdesk” theme.
Pivotal Tracker is a story-based project planning tool that the Dev Team here at Creately swears by. It is based on the Agile software development methodology and support sprints, velocity, etc but can also be used for other types of projects. If you’re a fan of Agile development – then you’ll love PT, as we affectionately call it.
Best part about PT – Its completely Free (as in beer).
What do you use in your teams? Have you tried any of these tools, and have you found them effective in your business?
Image by mr.smashy / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Creately is an easy to use Online Diagramming software - purpose built for team collaboration. Powerful features and an intuitive interface make Creately ideal for teams working together on everything from Business Diagrams, Strategy Maps, Flowcharts, Web Mockups to UML designs.
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