For most of my projects I need to work with a geographically challenged team. On my most recent project I have team members in Corbin, KY; Atlanta, GA; Knoxville, TN; and Seattle, WA. In order to stay on the same page, I use a gamut of technologies. Here is a short list with a quick description.
I've tried several conference call systems; many for pay and none have been as high quality or as easy to use as skype. It's very easy to setup a conference call, record the call, text during the call, and distribute the recording after the call has finished. You can conference in cell phones, land lines, skype users, or whatever into the same call. You can have up to twenty-four (24) plus the host in a call!
Skype has built-in voicemail recording but if you want to record the conference call you need to use a 3rd party; I use Call Recorder and it works great! If you don't have a skype account, i strongly recommend setting one up. My skype ID is lrknight.
I use every product from http://37signals.com
in one way or another. I use the basecamp
product for all of my businesses (DBR Systems, RK Properties, Bright Software). Basecamp
is an awesome project management site allowing you and your clients a secure area on the web to share files, messages, pictures, collaborate on documents, etc. Backpack
is your personal organizing area on the web; you can share your backpack pages with others making it a nice collaboration area also. I use Backpack
more for personal projects or a repository of my ideas that I don't want to make public. Campfire
is a great integrated chat; there are many chats out there and I rarely use campfire but it's there if I need it. Writeboard is a document creation/management tool allowing all team members to work on a document at the same time. Writeboard records all changes and allows you to rollback to any version at any time. Ta-Da
list is a nice to-do list...you can share it with others. I don't use Ta-Da as much as I used to since Basecamp and Backpack have it integrated.
When it comes to writing documents online; whether it's a spreadsheet, document, presentation, etc. I call on a few different packages...Google Docs
; ZoHo Office
; and ThinkFree Office
. There are others that I'm currently testing; such as http://280slides.com
for online slideshows but haven't had time to run them through their paces. The above packages work very well for my needs. I mainly use Google Docs but lean towards ZoHo for spreadsheet needs...it has a feel much more like Excel. It is very easy to create a spreadsheet or document, share it, and monitor updates and revert back to older versions. Perfect for a user's manual, proposal, or contract!
Mind maps are awesome for brainstorming and the ones that support online multi-user sessions are even better! I personally like http://mindmeister.com
but many are available. If you haven't tried mind mapping, checkout this wikipedia article
to learn more. The map to the left is a snapshot from my map for this site...it is a beginning; I'm looking for others to help shape this site into a great space with valuable tools and social activities. If you want to help, just contact me.