Collaboration and communication tools for virtual meetings

Distributed teams need good tools in order to conduct productive meetings. Project management expert David Christiansen discusses communication and collaboration tools, including both proprietary and open source.

What are the tools you recommend for teams where not all the members are in the same place? We have some teleconferencing capabilities, but what beyond that? We would really like to have daily meetings.

First of all, you're going to need an online collaboration tool -- an easy way to share documents (not code) that...

you all need. I frequently use Microsoft SharePoint for this, simply because it is included with Windows Server and is available in our company. There are lots of other tools out there, from enterprise level document management tools like Documentum to open source products like Drupal and Joomla. You can also use Google documents for this. You might want to look for tools that also provide shared calendars, contact lists, and to do lists.

You are also going to need instant messaging of some sort, preferably something that allows you to share desktops and video chat. AIM, ICQ and other free products can do this, but you might want to be mindful of any security risks they expose you to.

Software testing resources:
How to collaborate, conduct meetings virtually

Agile development across continents

Project management tools and strategies: Communication and collaboration tools

I have recently developed a liking for 37Signals, a company that provides Web-based group productivity tools that you can subscribe to. Their products include Basecamp, a project management and collaboration product Highrise, for contacts and simple CRM Backpack, for intranet, group calendars, and organizers and Campfire, real-time group chat for businesses. I use some of their products and like them very much. I highly recommend looking into this family of products. You can learn more about them, or even try them for free, at 37signals.com.

This was first published in March 2008

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