Collaboration & Management Tools

Since my focus is on helping non-profits on a shoe-string, I have been sampling two programs that help with project management and collaboration online. The nice part about using an online tool is that members/volunteers an organization without a central location can track with each other. Even if there is a central location for the non-profit, volunteers can be spread out and may need a central place to share ideas, post meeting dates, share minutes, and provide other information for the group to access.

This can be especially helpful when trying to plan an event. Typically the volunteers are all spread out. One person edits a document, passes it around, everyone else edits it, and then mayhem ensues. Who has the real document??? Online wiki’s and other content programs can provide a simple, no-cost solution.

There are plenty to check out, but I’m going to look at Basecampe and Jotspot today. Keep in mind that Basecamp has several versions that you must pay for. For more on content management systems, see Jordon Cooper’s blog.

Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

What is Basecamp?

Basecamp is a unique project collaboration tool. Projects don’t fail from a lack of charts, graphs, or reports, they fail from a lack of communication and collaboration. Basecamp makes it simple to communicate and collaborate on projects.

It’s elegant, easy, and web-based. You don’t need to download, install, or configure anything (no IT department required!). All you need is a web browser and an internet connection. And don’t worry, your data is safe with us.

How can Basecamp help us?

Basecamp makes it easy to centralize group communication with co-workers and clients.

Assign to-dos and tasks
Post messages and gather feedback
Simple scheduling and permissions
Share files internally or with clients
Track people’s time

My thoughts about the free version:

Basecamp is light on features, but is fairly easy to figure out. You can develop simple to do lists or create projects in a simple word processing format. You’ll be up and running in minutes, but first give it a good long look. Make sure that Basecamp has all of the features you need before investing a lot of time and entering a lot of data.
Next Up . . .


Here’s what Jotspot has to say about itself:

What can you do with our wiki?

Whether you’re at work or at home, you can use the JotSpot wiki.

The JotSpot wiki allows free-form collaboration, but you can also collaborate using structured applications from our application gallery.

Here are some things our customers have done:

  • Create an intranet
    Publish company information, such as news or employee guidelines. See an example.
  • Project management
    Schedule project deadlines, assign tasks, and define product specifications
  • Document collaboration
    Multiple users author documents with aid of version history and MS Word integration
  • Coordinate a non-profit agency
    Utilize event calendars, discussion forums, blogs and other apps
  • Collaborate with virtual teams
    Communicate with remote contractors or clients
  • Track software bugs
    Log defects and build custom queries
  • Call center support
    Access case histories and increase customer support

My Thoughts:

Jotspot has quite a few impressive features:

Collaboration & Community
* Blog
* Forum
* Group Calendar
* Meeting Manager
* Simple Poll
* Personal To-Do Lists

Business Productivity
* Project Manager BETA (New!)
* Bug Reporter (New!)
* Company Directory
* Knowledge Base
* Contact Manager
* Recruiting
* Call Log Manager

While you will probably never use all of these at once, the options it presents are tremendous. The number of options make jotspot a little bit more daunting to the inexperienced user. There is a lot of stuff that you can have on your homepage at once.

Basecamp’s basic package has a few simple tabs to manage, while Jotspot has all kinds of links to click on. Yet, having said that, all of the tools on Jotspot seem to be useful and simple to set up. Having discussion forums, a contact manager, writing board, and file uploader can put all essential info in one easy to access place. The file uploader is the selling point for me, but whatever the case may be, there is a lot to like about jotspot and it’s my choice for the best free collaboration program.

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