This post rounds out the short series on some workflow tools you might consider using to help with your campaigns and get the most out of any campaign automation. These days, most people have so much to store on their computers – personal files, music, movies, photos, and more – that your trusty internal hard drive just won’t cut it. Keeping files on an external hard drive or flash drive aren’t going to do it either especially as you’re likely to be in a collaborative industry or job role where sharing documents is critical. While some of the project management and personal organisation tools we’ve shared in the past few weeks have the ability to store documents, it’s often good to have resources specifically dedicated to storing and collaborating on documents. This is an, obviously, non-exhaustive list of our favourites.
A collection of component Google applications, Google Drive is the one-stop shop to store and collaborate on most types of documents you may have. Not only can you create and edit a variety of documents using Google – including Google Docs (similar to Microsoft Word in functionality) and Google Sheets (think Excel) – you can do so in real time. This means that while you’re typing on a Google Docs word document, you can see the collaborators who are working on the document in real time, and even edit each other’s work whilst the other watches – from across the office or across the world. You can also create various folders that store various types of documents, from Google documents to ones you drag and drop in to store. Google Drive supports a variety of document formats (including slide presentations though watch out for compatibility gotchas with Powerpoint), although certain video formats and file sizes are incompatible. The best part? You can determine who gets access to documents and folders by adding different types of sharing and access settings for complete control.
Think Google Drive, paired down. Rather than give you access to its own suite of tools, Dropbox just gives you space to store your own documents on a cloud, easily accessible from anywhere with an internet connection (or even offline depending on your account type). Dropbox files can also be spread into various, searchable folders, and you can give people access to various folders. The issue with Dropbox is that you cannot see who is accessing folders in real time, nor can you edit documents in real time, within view of other collaborators. Therefore, if you edit and re-upload an edited version of a document, you can get confused amongst various copies of documentation. It is free to sign up and store a marginal amount of data on Dropbox, but most companies must pay given the amount of data they are storing on the system.
Billed as a messaging platform for teams, Slack is slightly different from its data-storing cousins. Its aim is to reduce work emails and meetings by giving organisations a platform on which to track, record, collaborate and store everything. Typically, Slack is to be used in conjunction with other platforms, such as a project management or to-do list system, or else it might be difficult to organise and manage. Its core strength lies in the hybrid nature allowing quick, easy, trackable messaging and fluid file sharing all within the same environment. Slack has both mobile apps and a great web experience.
Bigger companies have started to take note of this new mode of group chat and collaboration and players from both sides, chat and file-sharing, have seen increasing acquisition activity in recent years.
Of course, in all of this, one cannot forget the importance (or ubiquity) of email in collaboration, data storage (hello, email archive folders!) and messaging. But with these new tools on the scene, email is going to have to innovate to stay competitive. Is email up to that challenge or are its days numbered? That’s a discussion for another time…