Top 5 Tools for Distributed Project Teams

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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

wrike

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.

Team Viewer

teamviewer

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.

Creately

creately

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

zendesk1

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

pivotaltracker

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?

@Charan

Image by mr.smashy / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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About the Author

About Indu

Indu Kandasamy is the Marketing Maven at Creately.com, a collaborative diagramming software for teams. When she’s not working on marketing strategies for web start-ups, she paints and loves to create designs for printed textiles. You can follow her on Twitter: @induja and also follow Creately: @creately

13 thoughts on “Top 5 Tools for Distributed Project Teams

  1. Wrike is my absolute favorite PM tool. It’s really handy that all projects are in one workspace. The same task can be a part of a few projects, that’s what I like most of all

  2. Guys,
    Thank you so much for your good words about Wrike! It’s always a pleasure to read that people love the result of our hard work. :) Have you checked out the new version beta? Would be interesting to find out what you think.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Yes we’re been trying out the new Beta version and do like it. Happy to share our feedback with you.

    Cheers
    Charan

  4. Great list @charan. We have a widely distributed team and ai am always hunting for better tools. Wish you had showcased some communication tools as well.
    Never heard of wrike – will certainly check them out. For screen sharing – you should try Sococo (www.sococo.com). They are free. What I like about them is you can share multiple screens and more importantly – share only what you want. So no problems of inadvertently showing your emails/chats etc.

  5. I use TeamViewer and like it also.

    I sort of feel like Google Apps should be in this list.

    it’s the first thing I switch my clients too and it generally makes a huge difference for them in terms of collaboration amongst teams.

    1. Thanks Riel, you’re right about Google Apps. Its always the first thing I get going as well for a new business or team.

      @Techgeek – thanks for the tip. Will definitely check them out.

  6. This is a nice list! It seems people really like Wrike and the other options listed here! I’d like to suggest one more option for the list. Our tool, OnePlace, combines team collaboration and work management so users can connect with all team members and work on more, together – no matter how far apart they are. If you want to check it out, you can at http://www.oneplacehome.com

  7. I’d add a bunch of Google services: chat-in-Gmail, Blogger, maybe Google Voice.

    Also GitHub, HowMyCode, maybe Amazon Web Services.

  8. Additionally, tools such as RHUB remote support appliances have been successfully implemented by the companies engaged in consumer support and services.

  9. Most Helpful post ever, much needed tools for website development teams. Keep writing such a wonderful post which will help everyone know about new things.

  10. You should also take Brightpod.com for a spin. Simple, intuitive and will help you prioritize/focus. I believe – Tasks that get delegated/tracked eventually get done :)

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