5 Collaboration Tools That Grow With Your Business
Every business starts out in one room. Whether it’s a garage, a spare bedroom, or a high top table at the local coffee shop, it’s easy to keep in touch with your collaborators when you’re just an arm’s length away.
But as your business grows, staying connected becomes more and more difficult. Making sure everyone is communicating with each other and able to work together across departments and disciplines is a challenge.
What is even more challenging is making sure your collaboration tools grow as you grow.
SurveyGizmo has grown leaps and bounds from a solopreneurship to a company that employes 80+ employees across two offices, plus remote workers.Google Chat just isn’t going to cut it.
These are the collaboration tools that help keep us working smoothly, no matter where we are in the world. It’s our master list, in no particular order.
1. Quick Sharing and Giphy Communication With Slack
Rolling out the official company Slack channels was perhaps the most popular collaboration choice SurveyGizmo has ever made. While the first day was spent peppering colleagues with gifs, since then Slack has made communicating easier and more fun than ever before.
Remember, if something’s fun, people are more likely to use it.
We organize our Slack so that every department has their own open-to-the-company channel, like a chat room, where anyone can pop in with questions or requests. A support team member can quickly and easily contact the entire marketing department if they can’t find a particular resource, for example. Or, a marketing team member can quickly contact the design team for help with an InDesign tool. This way, whoever is available on that team can pipe up with the answer.
It’s much faster than walking across the building and asking multiple people if they know the answer to your question.
Slack is also the place to quickly share files. When the customer support team needs a particular pdf, sending the entire file over Slack is faster and easier than explaining where to look for it or sending the same file via email.
As an added bonus, Slack integrates easily with other SaaS and collaboration tools, including many of the ones that we mention below. Each employee in your company can set up their own integrations, connecting the services they rely on in a way that will help them work more efficiently.
Fast. Easy. Fun. Connected. What more could you want from a company-wide collaboration tool?
2. Turn Sluggish Teams into Agile Heros With Trello’s Online Organization Boards
Every single department uses Trello in some way.
SurveyGizmo was built around an agile system, and following agile principles has been a major contributor to our growth. For most teams, the best way to create and manage kanban systems is through Trello’s online boards.
Within teams, many individuals choose to set up their own personal Trello boards to track exactly what needs to get done, with due dates, collaborators, and checklists.
(I have one for my own personal use, too, full of tasks like grocery shopping, oil changes, and dentist appointments.)
Trello is a flexible system where you set up columns of cards. Each column has its own purpose. Most of our teams have their own variations of a five-column kanban board with the following labels: Backlog, Up Next, In Progress, Blocked/Waiting, Complete.
Trello example image via Hubstaff
This is a great guide to setting up a Trello-style kanban board for yourself or your team.
Another great benefit of Trello? Integrations. Trello can be set up to talk directly to other tools – like email, Slack, our survey software platform to name a few – so all of your tasks are funneled to the right place: your Trello board.
3. Streamlining Communication Between Customers, Support, and Developers With Zendesk
Our support team refers to Zendesk is their hub, and in a complicated field like customer support, the importance of having one central hub of information cannot be downplayed.
At SurveyGizmo, users can reach out to a support person through chat, email, and phone, and Zendesk allows us to keep everything in one place. Every interaction between support and a customer is logged in Zendesk.
Because everything is searchable, we are able to keep track of trends within the support tickets themselves and use past support tickets to better inform how to give support in the future. The even allows us to personalize our support. If someone calls in frequently, we are better able to communicate with them and also in many cases offer additional materials based on the customer’s project or account level.
In addition to making the lives of our support team members a little easier, Zendesk is also integrated with how our development team logs feature requests and tracks bug reports. All tickets tagged with either “feature request” or “bug report” get automatically forwarded to the corresponding developer project tracking systems. Multiple instances are logged as such, so the development team knows how to prioritize tasks based on real feedback.
Once our developers squash a bug or add a requested feature to SurveyGizmo, the Zendesk ticket is updated. This notifies a support team member to reach back out and let the customer or customers know that their feedback has been heard and addressed.
Zendesk offers a full circle collaboration tool that connects the development team directly to the people on the front lines: support and the customers themselves. And, it does so seamlessly.
4. Writer, Editors, and Developers Unite With GatherContent
While the content team is the only group that uses GatherContent so far, we love it. In fact, we love it so much that we’ve already sung its praises in a blog post devoted to reviewing it.
We prefer GatherContent over services like Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive because it’s simple, easy to organize, and it’s easy to move content along designated workflows. At every step in the process, writers, stakeholders, editors, webdevs, and more are notified exactly when it’s their turn to work with the material.
It’s an easy system to pick up quickly, with intuitive editing and commenting tools, but power users can take the time to develop a truly sophisticated CMS.
While we use it for all types of content, other companies have used GatherContent to build and launch full websites – code included.
5. Collaborating In and Beyond Surveys With SurveyGizmo
Don’t think a survey tool can be truly collaborative? Think again. SurveyGizmo is hugely helpful, even for tasks that you may not think of when you think “survey software.”
Let’s start with the more obvious use case. We use SurveyGizmo for custom research projects, from tracking our brand awareness levels to measuring our Net Promoter Score to collecting customer support feedback. For these kinds of surveys, we keep our ducks in a row by taking full advantage of users, teams, and roles. These three levels determine which users can access which projects and what they can do within those projects.
Dan, our manager of customer and user experience, uses SurveyGizmo to track stats like our NPS and Systems Usability Scores. To make sure that no one accidentally edits these surveys, Dan has made it so that only other members of the Customer/UX team can access the survey. Within that team, everyone is able to test the survey and view reports, but only a trusted few have the ability to make changes.
Our Office Manager, Brook, even created an iPad-powered sign-in form that does more than just track who is visiting the office and visitors. It even alerts employees via email or Slack message when their visitors have arrived.
If you’re noticing a theme, integrations are huge when it comes to streamlining collaboration tools. By connecting multiple tools together, what you get is a result more powerful than the two pieces separately.
For example, the marketing department created a survey-powered marketing brief to make it easier for other departments to request marketing’s help on projects. Before the survey, individuals might email the marketing director, but they were more likely to approach whichever marketing team member as standing closest to them to ask for help on anything from copy checks to PR support to web updates. It was unnecessarily difficult to keep track of exactly what had been asked, who needed the task completed, and who was the best person to take on the task.
By creating a quick survey, now everyone in the company has a one stop shop for marketing assistance. Every submitted marketing brief automatically populates a new card in the marketing team’s Trello board. Every day, each us checks the board, reorganizes any new cards based on need and timeline, and assigns the appropriate team members to the task.
Assigned team members get an email to alert them of the new task. (I have these sent directly to my slack, where I can keep an eye on everything that I need to do.) The person who submitted the request receives a confirmation, a follow up email, and an automated notification when their task moves from “Backlog” to “Up Next” to “In Production.”
It’s a much, much easier system that keeps everyone informed of what needs to be done and where specific tasks stand.
The best part about SurveyGizmo? It really does grow with you. Add new users whenever you need to, ensuring that each user has exactly the permissions and tool they need to suceed (and nothing that will get in the way).
These 5 Tools Made Office Collaboration Easier Than Ever at SurveyGizmo
Like you, we’re always looking for new and better ways to connect with each other – so we can better connect with our customers, no matter how much we continue to grow.
What tools is your office using that have made the difference for your team or organization? Let us know in the comments.