How to collaborate on projects remotely – what should be in your toolbox?

Over the last few years in my opinion, we have really moved to a point where collaborating on projects with people in different offices, counties or even countries can be as good as sitting right next to them in the same office, and it’s something that we at R N D M R Limited do every day. Of course there are a few tools we use on a daily basis in order to ensure that everything is running smoothly and make contact with everyone to discuss the projects at hand, so below is a handy list of the things we use on a daily basis to collaborate on projects with people in different offices around the world.

  • Skype (http://www.skype.com): This is the main tool we use for discussing the progress of projects and holding full project meetings. As well as doing voice calls very well (even in situations where your internet connection might not be the best), you can set up video conferences, instant messaging and even share your screen with people you are calling. There are also apps for the most popular smart phones which means you can still use Skype while out of the office through your mobile.
  • Projectpier (http://www.projectpier.org): I’ve already posted about ProjectPier on this blog, but suffice to say it is a great system for holding all aspects of your project for everyone to refer back to time and time again, particularly to track action points and deadlines set from your Skype meetings.
  • Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com): Dropbox is just an incredibly easy way to share files between people, providing you with a chunk of webspace that you can then allow access to for the other people working on your project. It has a web interface, apps you can install on your computer so that the dropbox works seamlessly as just another folder on your desktop and apps for your smart phone so you can view your files on the move. This is a great place to store any diagrams or exchange code or designs when you are in the planning stages of your project.
  • Google Docs (http://docs.google.com): Google Docs real strength is when you are working collaboratively on a file such as a word document or spreadsheet. The web interface allows those who you grant access the ability to modify the file at the same time as you are, all the while storing a complete revision history. If anything should go wrong it can be undone with a few clicks without any loss of vital information that may have been entered along the way.

Probably one of the best parts about the list of software above is that, although there are plans for extremely heavy users or advanced features, you can use these tools to collaborate on a project absolutely free in 99% of cases! So there you go – a state of the art virtual office without any cost at all – compare that to the running costs of a traditional office setup!

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