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

HyperOffice can sync to Outlook, and you can read e-mail through any IMAP or POP browser. That flexibility is especially useful for offline work and for transitioning to cloud-based apps without abandoning your current tools. You can mount the file-storage component on a Windows or Mac desktop, to support intuitive accessing of documents as if they were any local files. An online meeting tool lets you give presentations, too, but HyperOffice partners with Skype to offload chat features.

Full mobile-phone synchronization is coming in the next few months, for transferring mail, contacts, and files directly to handsets. Until then, the service identifies your mobile browser and displays a specially formatted version of the site on the go.

Project-management features round out HyperOffice's options. You can track workflow and build simple tools to automate some of processes, as you would with a spreadsheet or database. And you can set up custom Web pages to share data with--or accept input from--internal groups or external clients.

HyperOffice costs roughly $10 per month or less per user, with discounts as the number of users increases. The meeting service and other tools--such as e-mail campaigns--that go beyond simple collaboration cost extra.

Microsoft Business Productivity

Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite sets the highest bar for large businesses. Consider this cloud-based alternative, especially if you already use--and like--Exchange Server, SharePoint, and other Microsoft mainstays. Priced at $10 per user per month, BPOS converts those services into an online, hosted model, with browser-based access from any Mac or PC.

Lotus Live

Lotus Live has several strong points for bigger businesses, including Webcasting and online meeting tools. But even though Lotus Live and BPOS are managed for you, they can get technical; as a result, they are best suited for larger companies with some on-staff IT support to help users take advantage of the advanced features. Lotus Live's pricing structure is more convoluted than its competitors', as it takes an à la carte approach to service charges.

Zoho

Zoho follows Google's free-to-paid model, offering dozens of cloud-based apps. E-mail hosting, calendar, contact, and collaboration tools are available. But Zoho provides all kinds of extras--including invoicing and recruiting apps, CRM tools, human resources tools, and project management--that make Zoho a compelling option for companies that value a consolidated set of online tools.


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