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Collaboration tools: which type is right for your team?
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The main types of collaboration tools (and how to choose)

A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
9th January, 2024
6 min read
An open toolbox with various social icons floating around it
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
9th January, 2024
6 min read
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What different collaboration tools are available?
What collaboration tools do you need?
Project management collaboration tools
Communication tools
Editing and visualisation tools
File-sharing and storage tools

We explore the main types of collaboration software, from project management to document storage, so you can discover the ones that suit you.

Collaboration tools are a hot topic for those interested in productivity hacks, and with everyone suffering from overflowing email inboxes and ever-growing to-do lists, the promise of a system to improve everything is tempting! But what types of collaboration tools do you really need to invest in? Once you’ve reviewed the types here, you can see our picks of the best work collaboration tools.

What different collaboration tools are available?

The main business collaboration tools include:
  • Project management tools
  • Communication tools
  • Editing and visualisation tools
  • File-sharing and storage solutions

What collaboration tools do you need?

Understanding what tools you’ll need comes down to one thing: listening! What are the recurring complaints or challenges in your business? How do your people like to work?

As well as finding secure and easy access tools, consider how they'll use them. Real-time communication lets users chat and collaborate instantly; asynchronous collaboration software allows workers to team up at different times, and collocated collaboration lets users work together in the same place. This type of work usually comes under the relatively new term knowledge worker (and if you’re wondering, “what is a knowledge worker?”, we've got you covered.

Types of collaboration tools

Project management collaboration tools

Project management collaboration tools allow teams to collaborate on specific projects and see what’s required at a glance in the style of Kanban boards, GANTT charts or a calendar/ list view. Project management collaboration tools typically appeal to users involved in multiple workstreams by simplifying how they see tasks assigned to them and view project deadlines and milestones. In most project management collaboration tools, it’s possible to attach documents, images or links.

There is considerable crossover between Project management tools and Workflow automation tools (which streamline and automate processes) and task Management Software (which are dedicated to organising and tracking tasks, assignments, and deadlines.) In order to offer a more valuable, well-rounded tool, most software covers all of the above in various depths.

The most popular types of project management software include:
  • Confluence
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Jira
  • Zapier

Communication tools

Are emails falling through the cracks of your businesses? Do tasks and actions from meetings need to be actioned or assigned ownership? If communication on tasks or overall business happening isn’t as slick as it should be, you need Communication Collaboration Tools.

Software focusing on workplace communication helps people connect outside their immediate work circles and collaborate without needing long-winded meetings. It’s popular to use collaboration tools alongside chat applications and create a structured process or stream to enable quick and direct communication that stays organised among team members.

The most popular types of communication software include:
  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Yammer

Editing and visualisation tools

Do you want to get more innovation from your teams? Perhaps you need to plan projects, strategise a potential business change or consider improvements and enhancements. If so, collaborative editing and visualisation tools make it possible. These can be lists and charts that make a logical flow of ideas, virtual whiteboards for brainstorming, visual collaboration, or videos that help team members explain big ideas without needing to type them all out.

With cloud-based software to help enhance collaboration, it’s easy to get all your stakeholders involved with one virtual document and leave the session with firm ideas and actions to make the dreams a reality.

The most popular types of editing and visualisation software include:
  • Google Workspace
  • Miro
  • InVision
  • Canva Whiteboard
  • Loom

File-sharing and storage tools

Do you find in your business that you often hear that work has been duplicated, that out-of-date documents have been sent out, or that items have been recreated because no one knew an asset was already excited? If so, you need file sharing and storage tools; these allow collaborative content to be produced whilst also ensuring that the documents are able to be accessed by all who need them.

Most typically, file-sharing tools offer version control, multiple collaborators, and feedback and review tools for annotations and editing by multiple parties.

The most popular types of file-sharing and storage software include:
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • OneDrive

Ready to collaborate?

There are many collaboration tools, and you may need more than one. Our tip? Focus on integrations, scalability and ease of adoption with your existing processes. Also, get an in-depth look at the possibilities. Many collaboration tools support plugins and apps which can be adapted to your business's needs.
Whether you want shared work docs to clarify your work priorities or simplify your workday, the right collaborative software and tools could help give you the extra edge you’ve been looking for.

Apps that help you do more in Confluence

Our apps work hand-in-hand with knowledge management and project collaboration so that you can get more out of Confluence.
Written by
A headshot of Elaine Keep
Elaine Keep
Content Writer
Elaine has established herself as a respected authority in the HR industry and uses her experience gained as the head of marketing in the employee rewards and recognition software sector to inform her reporting.