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As journalists go, I am usually ridiculously organized (I procrastinate by rearranging my desk or home office). Lately, though, the sheer number of projects I'm handling--along with messages and appointments coming from three different e-mail accounts--has threatened to overwhelm me.
Compound this deluge by the fact that my role at a high-tech consulting company means I don't exactly work in a vacuum. Even though I'm miles away from most of my colleagues or clients, I need a way to share pertinent documents, presentations, and proposals with other people. Even more important, I need to track my due dates, and where my extended team is working (or playing) at any given moment.
Do these problems sound familiar?
The good news is, there's a whole new class of services aimed at small businesses that need to better support team collaboration and project management functions. Search the Internet for "online collaboration," and you'll see dozens of results returned. I've honed those choices to a handful of services--Basecamp, Central Desktop, Google Sites, HyperOffice, Sosius, Twiddla, and Vyew. These services have a true small-business bent and aren't simply the online editions of existing enterprise software packages. (PC World has reviewed various types of collaboration services and packages.)
When it comes to choosing which service to use, you'll want to consider four main capabilities: (1)
Fortunately, all of the sites here offer
Keep Things Straight With Dashboards
Most online collaboration services
Security is also a consideration: Workspaces can either be private, gated for just a specific set of people, or made public for a broader community to share.
Above is an example of the overall dashboard from Sosius--it's one of
Central Desktop and Basecamp, by contrast, make use of a tabbed interface. Central Desktop even lets you build out custom tabs,
To return to the Sosius interface for a minute: One thing I really liked about
Google Sites considers each collaborative workspace as an intranet, and it provides templates for you to design and pull together
One big advantage of Google Sites is that it can
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