Work Smarter With Online Collaboration Tools

These online collaboration services offer tools for every business need, and every budget.

By Zack Stern, PC World |  Software, Collaboration Software

For $50 per year per user, you can upgrade Google's basic tools with business-grade features. Besides adding group administration capabilities to the service--so that your IT department (or person) can manage all users through a single interface--the premium Google services increase storage allotments and provide more-robust user features across the entire suite.

Google Mail jumps to 25GB. Google Calendar includes business-oriented tweaks to improve schedule collaboration, such as the ability to compare two peoples' calendars more easily to find workable meeting times. Google Groups gets a business-oriented twist, too, enabling your workers to communicate in a forum environment that's closed to the outside world.

In addition, paid Google Apps accounts can use your business's domain name, so e-mail messages can originate from an address "@yourbusiness.com" instead of "@gmail.com." Google provides better support and accountability to business customers, too; when the free, consumer version of Gmail goes down, it won't necessarily take the business customers down with it. (Google promises 99.9 percent uptime on its professional services.)

HyperOffice

Ideal for many small and medium-size businesses, HyperOffice balances the robust features and unification of IBM and Microsoft's tools while scaling down to suit companies that lack dedicated IT support. If you run into trouble, you can call HyperOffice and get help and support directly from someone at the company.

Well-produced tutorial videos appear throughout the new interface, to help you get started without IT support. If you need additional assistance, HyperOffice will walk you through the steps via Web conferencing.

HyperOffice's integrated collection of services matches or beats those that its competitors offer. Typically you'll access the service in a Web browser, and use it to manage contacts, messages, projects, files, and more. To share a file, for example, users can subscribe to certain coworkers' documents (as members of a team, say), so they'll be notified of all updates. Meeting histories and e-mail traffic can be related to specific projects as well, so a latecomer who joins the group can catch up on prior communication easily.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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