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Productivity

Which Team Communication App Will Elevate Your Productivity?

The messaging app market is a booming one, with 2.52 billion users reported in 2019 and projected to grow to three billion users by 2022. This staggering statistic not only gives us insight into the messages we send every day to family and friends at home but also in the workplace, where team communication apps now offer abilities and functions that have become essential.

Another tool that teams regularly require is video conferencing for virtual meetings that accommodate remote attendees. Video conferencing, combined with chat messaging and other team collaboration tools like calendar and task management apps, help teams communicate more effectively. These tools are amazing, but they can be cumbersome if your team has to go back and forth from application to application.

That’s where an all-in-one, intuitive team communication app comes into play. While there are multiple benefits of apps like Slack and Zoom for productive collaboration, there’s a significant value-add to leveraging flexible chat features that are built directly into the centralized dashboard of a project collaboration platform. And when your team communication app also offers calendar integration, a bevy of task management tools, and other productivity-boosting features, the advantages become undeniable.

Why Choose a Team Communication App?

In the vast growth of mobile and team communication apps, chat messaging and video conferencing are among those used most frequently for work. Teams that are thriving will likely use a chat app like Slack and a video conferencing program like Zoom already.

But these aren’t the only tools effective teams use for productive collaboration. Another team communication option that many teams are driving toward is a communication platform that integrates all of your components into one intuitive dashboard, elevating your team’s collaborative abilities.

Which App Will Best Suit Your Team?

As far as team communication apps go, Slack and Zoom are two of the most popular options for chat and video conferencing. Both are fairly simple to use and have a minimal learning curve, but they are separate applications that must be used independently. 

Here’s a breakdown of these three options and a closer look at their advantages and disadvantages.

Slack

Slack is, in essence, a stand-alone service offering an instant messaging platform for private and group chat with the ability to have smaller subgroups, as well as public chat channels.

Advantages:

  • Private and public chat channels
  • Individual or group messaging
  • G-Suite integration
  • Allows shared channels with external companies
  • Voice and video calling capabilities

Disadvantages: 

  • Does not support long messages or large files, so you will have to rely on email or another application
  • Inflexibility in separating tasks from chat channels
  • Project timelines can be difficult to view and understand 
  • Lack of workflow management tools

While Slack is an excellent option for chat-specific purposes, it does not offer the capabilities necessary for complete project management. 

Zoom

Zoom is a highly-useful video conferencing solution that’s easy to use and integrate, though with occasional technical issues and outages. This app enables teams to stay in touch for meetings and regular video collaboration. Zoom offers a plug-and-play system so it’s easy to apply and tools are simple to learn.

Advantages:

  • Helpful plug-and-play video conferencing platform
  • Direct communication with up to 100 participants for team and project meetings with an add-on for up to 1,000 participants
  • Ability to send chat messages throughout calls
  • The option to raise your hand for questions
  • Easy-to-schedule meetings that can integrate with team calendars

Disadvantages:

  • Technical issues such as frozen video during collaborative team meetings
  • Limited options for project task management, sharing files, and working on documents or projects

Video conferencing with Zoom is helpful and often essential for project teams, but it generally must be used in conjunction with other apps and tools for complete project management.

All-in-One Integrated Platform

With an all-in-one integrated platform, you have a feature-rich built-in chat tool, task management capabilities, and calendar integration, as well as chat, video, and other app integration all from a centralized dashboard, improving communication across your project teams.

Advantages:

  • Built-in chat that enables you to work together on projects, including capabilities for:
    • Direct messaging
    • Group chats
    • In-task conversations
    • Project chat channels
  • Ability to mute notifications and chat channels when you need to focus
  • Task management
  • Calendar integration with Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and Apple Calendar
  • Ability to manage timelines and workloads
  • Intuitive centralized dashboard  
  • Basic and advanced integrations:
    • Easily integrate tools like chat and video conferencing, as well as DropBox, Google Suite, Harvest, and connect with over a thousand apps with Zapier. 
    • Some additional integration examples include Salesforce, JIRA, Evernote, and Google Forms.
  • A simple learning curve that is easy for teams of all technical abilities to navigate 
  • Visualize all of your work in one place for streamlined workflow
  • Set recurring and prioritized tasks
  • Filter and sort project tasks
  • Add tasks via email
  • Set reminders for tasks
  • Secure file sharing
  • Complete project tools for remote and distributed teams

Disadvantages:

  • If you simply want to use chat only and don’t need to work with other project collaborative tools, then these comprehensive features may not be necessary

If you want a feature-rich, team communication app that allows for multiple integrations and simple use of all-in-one tools like chat, task and calendar management, and integration of your most productive tools, then this solution can be leveraged. It can enable your teams to work productively and collaborate in all of the ways you are accustomed to from a single dashboard. 

Leveraging an All-Inclusive App

A team communication app that’s also a modern, flexible project management tool and allows you to integrate other important apps along with task and calendar management tools can streamline your team’s entire workflow.

With an all-in-one solution, you can keep all of your projects in one convenient place. And, when your built-in chat tool works in conjunction with the ability to create tasks, manage timelines, attach files, and share links, you can elevate your team’s productivity to a whole new level.

Flow provides a feature-rich team communication app and an all-in-one productive collaborative platform with a simple setup to help improve your team’s workflow. Sign up for a free trial today!

October 22, 2020

Teamwork

How Effective Collaboration Strategies Build Successful Teams

A team’s success lies in how effectively its members collaborate to get the job done. If your team is working on a large, complicated project, you need the expertise and skills of your teammates to problem-solve and creatively tackle every aspect of the work. While effective communication helps build a team, effective collaboration reflects the real teamwork. The result is a team that accomplishes the project goals successfully and on time. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether your team works remotely or is located in a physical office space—effective collaboration strategies and tools are the most integral part of your work environment. 

Effective Collaboration Strategies to Improve Teamwork

Effective collaboration starts with effective communication. Real-time communication is particularly important if your team is spread across different time zones. Managers and leaders need to provide a communication platform for their team members to exchange ideas and explore solutions. Not only does this increase productivity, it also helps keep team morale high. Here are some of the most effective collaboration strategies that go hand-in-hand with productive communication between team members.  

Build a sense of community

Successful teams are built on mutual trust and cooperation. When your teammates feel a sense of community in the workplace, it leads to more effective teamwork. In a physical office space, it’s easy to build a sense of community over watercooler chats, coffee breaks, and team lunches. But when working remotely, your team needs to be able to interact often. This can be done through chat applications that are designed to keep teams connected in real time. A sense of community, in turn, harbors feelings of collective ownership and accountability. Though it’s common for leaders and project managers to be responsible for managing projects, empowering your team members to be decision-makers allows them to be more accountable when working towards project goals.  

Support flexible and focused communication

Flexible and focused communication is the essence of team collaboration. While working with a large team, there is always a risk of important conversations and ideas getting lost. Dedicated chat channels for these conversations help keep track of chat history while sharing relevant project information and resources. Scheduling all-hands meetings and team video hangouts can also ensure that everybody is on the same page regarding the progress of the project. 

Support teammates’ strengths and work preferences

A flexible workplace inspires team members to be productive while working on schedules that suit them the best. Each of your team members has a unique skill set and different working styles. As a team, sharing individual skills helps in solving critical project-related problems, especially when working on tight deadlines. To create such a collaborative environment, you need to be equipped to support your team members’ individual strengths and work preferences. 

Socialize to improve and evolve collaboration

Team bonding is one of the keys to facilitating effective collaboration. Spending time with coworkers after work hours or celebrating their personal successes and milestones can go a long way in building team spirit. Appreciating your team members’ contributions and recognizing their efforts in accomplishing project goals helps increase overall engagement and motivation. 

Empower creativity and innovation

Effective collaboration is only possible when team members are not getting overwhelmed with routine administrative work that can bog down their schedules and negatively impact their creativity. To encourage innovation and creativity at work, you need to provide your team with time, space, and a sense of freedom. Micromanaging teammates will only lead to decreasing overall productivity and wasting everyone’s time. With the help of project management software, you can organize and streamline workflow, resources, and communication. While it provides creative support to your team members, it also allows them to be accountable for their assigned tasks. 

In a rush to build a successful team while implementing these strategies, managers sometimes resort to implementing multiple collaboration tools. While selecting cloud-based platforms, chat applications, or task management tools for streamlining workflow, the learning curve is often overlooked. Switching to a different tool means a change that your team might take longer to adjust to. As your project and team grow, a collaboration tool you are using might turn out to be incompatible and not support the changing requirements. And, toggling between multiple tools can put additional stress on your team. This is why you need a flexible, integrated project management platform with easy-to-use features that increases your team’s overall productivity.    

An Integrated Platform for Implementing Effective Collaboration Strategies

Effective collaboration does not just mean successfully completing the project on time. Creating meaningful connections with your team members helps you understand team dynamics more fully and will enable your team to better utilize their innate skills and talents.

To support your team’s collaboration, you need an all-in-one platform that provides the features to streamline workflow while facilitating real-time conversations. Transitioning to a new platform does not necessarily mean disrupting your team’s way of working or requiring them to learn new features. Apart from offering flexibility to accommodate different requirements, the platform should also provide ways to integrate the collaboration tools that your team already uses. At the end of the day, a smooth transition to a collaborative workspace means a happier and more successful team. 

With Flow, you can support effective collaboration strategies to build a successful team. Our powerful, built-in communication tools and easy-to-use task management features keep your team connected while they chase project deadlines. Start your free trial today!

October 20, 2020

Teamwork

How to Build a Project Team Communication Plan

As a manager or team leader, you’re likely to know your team members well, including the strengths, work preferences, interpersonal dynamics, and communication styles that can make a project successful. Even before your client gives you the green light to start working on a project, you have probably already begun building the ideal team in your mind that will develop the best solutions and hit project milestones. 

Once the project starts, it’s critical to keep both your client and internal team on the same page. To communicate effectively with everyone on board, you’ll need a solid project team communication plan. This can help you keep everyone in the loop while streamlining the workflow and increasing the overall productivity.     

Creating a High-Level Project Team Communication Plan

When working on complex and interdependent projects, loopholes in communication can cause misunderstandings and unnecessary delays. A well-developed project team communication plan can help you avoid such scenarios, and creating this plan begins with the following steps:

Outlining communication goals

It’s crucial to understand the goals behind a project team communication plan. If you are unable to identify the goals, communication between the team and the client can become unproductive. An ideal team communication plan should improve engagement among team members while gathering input from everyone onboard.  

Identifying key stakeholders in the project

The team members you chose to spearhead the project are at the core of your communication plan. But they are not the only stakeholders. External vendors, internal departments, and even the points of contact from the client side are among other key players in any given project, and need to be kept in the loop as well.

Selecting tools for communication

This is the most important aspect of the project team communication plan. A team communication plan cannot be effective if you lack the right communication tools to implement it. Communication modes such as in-person meetings, video calls, emails, discussion boards, collaboration tools, and chat apps are some of the most common and widely used methods of interacting with both clients and team members. As a team manager, it’s equally important to organize and schedule the frequency of communication in order to optimize productivity.

Evaluating the efficiency of the communication plan

Getting feedback from both your team members and clients can help you evaluate the efficiency of the project team communication plan. Is your team receiving enough input to work on the project and feel supported? Are your team members able to clearly understand the project requirements? Is your client happy with the progress of the project? These are some of the questions that will determine how the project team communication plan is performing.   

Though it may seem simple to create a project team communication plan, the catch is to implement it effectively. If you are switching between different platforms and tools to execute the plan, stress is inevitable and you may be missing out on relevant information. That’s why you need an all-in-one project management platform to build and implement your team communication plan.      

Incorporating a Project Team Communication Plan through an Integrated Platform

There is no hard-and-fast rule for how your project team communication plan should look, as long as it serves its purpose in helping the team communicate effectively. For example, you can create a simple template in Excel and share it with everyone on your team. However, when you are working alongside a large team with multiple stakeholders involved in the communication plan, an Excel sheet can become messy and confusing quite quickly. An intuitive task and project management platform can help you address such constraints through the following features: 

  • Visibility through a project dashboard: Getting an overview of all project-related tasks in a Kanban board,calendar view or comprehensive task list can help you track the progress of your project team. 
  • Planning with project timelines: A well-defined project timeline saves your team from unnecessary stress at the eleventh hour. Mapping out the timeline, assigning or tagging team members to specific tasks, and sharing your plan with the team gives a clear picture of the workflow against the deadlines. 
  • Organizing and prioritizing tasks: When you have a long list of personal to-dos or project-related tasks to be delegated to other team members, it can often become confusing. A project management platform helps you organize your tasks and prioritize them while getting clarity over your team members’ workload before assigning them work. In case a teammate is overwhelmed, you can easily reassign the task to others and rebalance the workload.  
  • Real-time notifications: Real-time notifications about the status of tasks and comments from your team help you understand the workflow better on a day-to-day basis. With just a glance, you can view a summarized feed of all recent notifications and updates, allowing you to remain in the loop about everything related to the project.    
  • Built-in chat feature: A task management platform with a built-in chat feature can transform team communication into actionable steps. While speaking with several team members at a time, there is a high chance of valuable ideas and information getting lost in the conversation trail. By capturing all of your conversations and organizing them under respective tasks or projects, a chat tool can make team discussions easier and more productive.   

Such features in a project management platform give you the advantage of implementing the project team communication plan on a day-to-day basis. So, rather than going back and forth with the original project team communication plan, you can directly implement it through a project management software and get real-time updates on the progress of the project. This helps you gain clarity on the efficiency of the plan and gives insight into how you can finetune it to further achieve the project goals.

With Flow’s beautifully designed project management platform, you can create a robust project team communication plan for any team size. Learn how our powerful built-in chat feature can further support your team. Start your free trial today

October 15, 2020
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