Work groups are spread far and wide these days. This has been a growing trend for the last few years and is just about the only way I work anymore. But I'm a small company and using online collaboration tools were essential to getting things done quickly and effectively without the burden of travel costs. Over the years I've watched how larger companies have begun adopting the tools I've been using since 2006 or seven or eight. This is exciting as it encourages developers to continue designing and improving the software we need and want.
My goal has been to use open source and, when possible, free web-based tools for collaboration, data storage, and productivity. Some of my favorite apps have been Skype for general international communication, DimDim for conferencing and presentations, RTM for simple task management, Box.net for document storage and sharing, Zoho Project, and, recently, Google Apps. There are more, but these have been the mainstay of my "corporate" infrastructure... until yesterday.
Yesterday I was introduced to SAP's online collaboration platform StreamWork. It took Google Wave, melded it with Zoho Project, enhanced and polished it, and won me over in one online meeting with several colleagues. I liked what Google Wave tried to create, but it wasn't smooth enough for the nongooglites of my circle. Besides, it was often difficult to explain "hosted conversations" to anyone not accustomed to collaborating outside of the conference room. Now with Wave retiring soon I was excited to see SAP offering a robust, easy to use, and clean web-based application that works just as well for a company my size as for large multi-nationals.
I was so impressed with StreamWork that I mapped out how to migrate my project management activity from Zoho. Yes, for those of you who have followed me here and on Twitter, I am at long last moving away from Zoho Projects (although their application bundle is still noteworthy). I believe Zoho had a lot of the right ideas several years ago, but has been unable to keep up with user demand for easier access and management of the data and projects hosted there. I have had to listen to my clients beg for simple things such as bulk file uploads, nested folders, sharing documents across projects, and allowing real-time group work on data or decision-making. So far StreamWork seems to have it all and what they don't offer they've partnered with others to provide.
To learn more about StreamWork go to http://streamwork.com. Post a comment. Let me know what you think. What's your collaboration tool of choice?