If you’re looking for collaboration software, the good news is this category has a number of vendors with freemium offers. Here are five collaboration software products that you can use for free. No credit card information is required, no strings attached, just subscribe with your email, social network credentials, or other basic information and you’re good to go.
But wait… there’s more.
In fact, more features that you may be missing out if you stick to the free version. Check these free collaboration software packages and their uses, and the features that you’re missing if you don’t level up to a paid plan:
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Main use: file sharing
Send and store large files like images, videos, and presentations where email won’t suffice. Your team can work together in the cloud even if they’re in different locations. The app lets them access, edit, comment on the files for a seamless collaboration, allowing companies to source talent from other countries. Hightail is popular for knowledge process outsourcing in, among others, architecture, legal, media, and creative services.
The free Hightail includes the following:
Paid Hightail plans include more robust features:
Share files up to 10GB. If your business requires transferring large files like graphics and media, the free 250MB may not even be enough for a single 500MB MP4 video.
Unlimited storage. Similarly, you may need to archive large files for client’s access or during collaborative editing involving team members who work at home.
Custom branding. To get bigger clients you need to appear more professional, which means branding your digital properties. Using a freemium can be misinterpreted by the client as scrimping on the budget it allotted for the project.
Secure delivery. If you’re doing a confidential project or one with a non-disclosure clause or a date embargo like a press release or court proceeding, you need to secure file transfer between your staff who work in the cloud. A leak of the project’s video clip or an announcement can invite litigation from the client or end a profitable relationship.
Main use: social and dynamic corkboard
Put everything related to the job on one page that looks like a social network platform. You and your team can pin files, videos, images, links, updates, etc. on a single location and post comments for feedback. Use it to suggest ideas or inspirations, assign tasks, give feedback, monitor the latest activities and even create reports based on the page activity, without the need for coding skills.
The free Podio includes:
Paid Podio features are important for big or small but complex projects.
Unlimited number of users. The paid subscriptions let you invite as many users as your project requires. Major projects like a movie production or event organization will need more than five users to get things moving. Likewise, complex projects like in research that relies on the input of as many specialists as possible, will be hindered by the freemium’s cap on the number of users.
Access permission. With paid subscription you can add or remove users or limit access to non-core users or to clients. In the freemium, you’re stuck with the people you’ve added at the start, which poses a problem if you’re changing team members midway to completing the project.
Full workflow automation. Many tasks are repetitive and can be automated to save you time. For example, creating reports for weekly or monthly updates or creating alerts for pending tasks can be set beforehand. The paid subscription gives you more automation tools, which means more cumbersome tasks off your back.
Priority support. One of the paid plans offers priority support, which means, you’re assured to get a quick reply or call even when Podio is at once swamped with hundreds of customer concerns. As more people rely on the Podio freemium, this paid plan feature will become crucial.
Own Podio live agent. Similarly, you get to have a dedicated Podio agent to take care of support in a premium plan. Over time, this person will get to know more of your business and how you use Podio, a relationship that cannot be matched by a call to a random helpdesk rep.
Training sessions. Podio also offers training sessions in its paid plans. If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with self-learning, having someone to teach you the details is a big help.
Main use: web conferencing
The idea is nothing new, but Zoho Meeting makes online conference a tad easier with its browser-based setup. That means you don’t need to download and install anything, the bane of non-techies and devices with limited storage. With just a browser and Internet, you can meet customers, suppliers, partners, or employees across the world from your desk; or share screen to present or showcase your product. Likewise, connect using different platforms including your smartphone or tablet and you can meet anywhere and anytime you’re online.
The free Zoho Meeting includes:
The software has a professional plan that gives you more flexibility:
Up to 20 hosts. The paid version lets you conduct talk show-style webinars, where you have a guest expert or panel of guest experts. You can put variety (and interest) in your meetings instead of the traditional linear mentor-student model allowed in the freemium.
Up to 100 participants. In fact, the freemium is a one-to-one meeting (host and one participant), while the paid plan allows for real conferencing.
Useful meeting tools. These tools may come handy when conducting meetings: scheduler; dial-in audio (for participants with slow connection); change presenter; embed meeting widget (allows you to conduct the webinar in your website to drive traffic); user management; detailed reports; and co-branding (makes you look more professional and “big-time”).
Main use: to-do list
It’s a to-do list with two important features: it’s cloud-based so you can share and collaborate on the list with anyone, anytime, and anywhere there’s Internet; and it organizes workflow with visual cards that let you see at once who is doing what and at what project stage. ToDo helps you to centralize tasks, organize assignments, and route them to the right persons. It’s useful tool to track team-level activities, which may comprise a bigger group or departmental project.
The free ToDo includes:
More teams and members. The paid subscription lets you organize more teams with more members. Unless your project requires no more than five persons, you need to pay up for larger groups. A plan allows for up to 25 members, while a custom subscription is open for tailoring the number of teams and members.
Useful collaboration and project management tools. The paid plan takes your to-do list to the next level with project tools, such as: Gantt charts, time reporting, document management, conversations, and online meetings.
Main use: task-based timesheet
The software lets you measure the project’s progress and employee productivity by tracking work down to the minute and in real time. Users choose a tasks from a list and press a button to start the clock. A dashboard lets you see the big picture, who is doing the work of which project and the time being spent on each task. Likewise, the app automatically creates a timesheet and employee reports for payroll and performance evaluation.
The free TrackingTime includes:
As of now, none. The developer is still working on premium features. The startup vendor founded in 2012 from a VC grant aims to enroll a critical mass of users before a paid version will be released.
We hope this article on free collaboration software has helped you. A freemium is a great way to assess a software’s performance and the vendor’s reliability. We daresay it’s better than getting a demo or free trial, which can be rigged to lure you. But it’s supposed to be a starter, not the final solution to make you more productive.
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