At TBI, the #1 collaboration tool is still the old-fashioned shout across the newsroom. As our business thrives and we add to staff, the shout’s dominance will be threatened, but not for a while: some of my colleagues can really project.
We also use a patchwork of digital tools that other entrepreneurial businesses might benefit from. Here are the top eight:
- IM: Apps like Adium let us connect with users of almost any IM system: AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Gchat. (As a side note: the recent college grads all gravitate toward Gchat — arguably another ominous sign for AOL’s prospects even though it has never meaningfully monetized AIM.)
- Google Docs: it’s not perfect, but we rely on Google Docs extensively for sharing files.
- Google calendar: It allows you to see many separate calendars all on one screen, so we use Google Calendar to track everything from staff vacations/OOO to minutiae of our ad campaigns, each in its own calendar but viewable together.
- Tungle: Offers the calendar-sharing convenience of Microsoft Outlook without the hassle, and a sleek interface for inviting others to select a time to meet.
- 37Signals has two products we can’t live without: Highrise: which we use to share contacts,
- and Grouphub (also known as Basecamp): for creating and managing projects end to end. Some day we may have to upgrade to a more heavy-duty developer “ticket” system, but for now we appreciate the versatility of Basecamp.
- Yammer: some of our editors have recently started experimenting with it to coordinate coverage in real-time, but the jury is still out.
- Email: for the benefit of those who say that email is dead, replaced by SMS, twitter, etc.: get serious! Some messages require more than 140 characters. Strictly banned from our office: replies containing nothing but “thank you.” (We’re grateful. It’s understood.)
The downside of our approach is that none of these tools is interconnected with the others as they would be in a packaged software solution. But the à la carte approach gives us the flexibility to experiment with new tools and keep those that work best.
What does your company use that we should try? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
(That’s part of ESPN’s newsroom above, not ours, and you can see it’s also perfectly set up for shouting. Photo: boboroshi/Flickr Creative Commons.)
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