One of the most common questions we get are what are the different collaboration tools during our software development projects. Our workforce and clients are spread across different regions and as we work across several locations and teams, so it is important that we leverage different tools to not only get our work done but also ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Communication needs to be clear, involve the right people, and should be timely. Here’s a selection of our most valuable tools
Slack – for collaboration
We use Slack company-wide. Slack has proven to be an essential tool when dealing with teams, allowing users to communicate with project-specific groups, send personal messages to peers, and even share files. We try our best to avoid email wherever possible and try to keep project-specific conversations outside email. This keeps everyone on the same page.
Slack allows guest users so invite our clients and partners to a dedicated channel for each project, to ensure the whole team is in one place and able to communicate with each other. Customers love this feature, as they feel more involved as they see every conversation regarding the project.
One of our favorite features is a reminder app, which lets you create quick reminders for yourself and for the team.
Slack also allows users to have a voice and video call, which gives you the option to screen-share. This simplifies the invite part as you can initiate a call with the channel. One limitation of Slack is that screen-share doesn’t work on the mobile app.
Adding to its almost endless utility, Slack allows you to add multiple integrations, so we are able to connect email, calendar, Trello and other tools.
Atlassian Jira – for agile project management and bug tracking
Jira from Atlassian is one of the most preferred tools by the software companies. Jira helps teams plan, track, and manage agile software development projects. It allows us to manage our project data, create wikis, and manage team pipelines. We use this to create project sprints, tasks, backlogs, and more.
We use Confluence to keep our team workspace in one place. It allows you to quickly collaborate with teams, creates custom tasks and workspaces, and even build knowledge-bases. It comes preloaded with several templates for you to start working quickly.
Google Drive and Docs
File sharing is made easy with Google’s Drive. We use for Shared Spreadsheets, Docs, Slides, and Jamboard. Jamboard is one of the nicer additions in Google Drive that lets you use a shared whiteboard. Link sharing, collaborating on documents, and more makes this one of our most used applications.
Asana is a very powerful task management tool that simplifies many of the business processes. Asana’s versatile team collaboration tools help our technical and non-technical teams stay connected. Features like boards and calendars help sales and marketing see what tasks are coming up, when it’s due, and who it’s been assigned to. We can do things like the take and share meeting notes, upload files, and tag team members.
Git – Bitbucket and GitHub
Version control is mandatory for any software development company. Version control software such as Git, SVN, Mercurial record any changes in the codebase and maintains the history of changes. This allows software developers to go back in the history to review, compare and restore older version whenever necessary.
At Technology Rivers, we use Git for version control of our software. Git is a distributed version control software for tracking changes in the application code during software development.
Our goto tool for version control repository is Bitbucket, a git repository from Atlassian. We create different branches for development, bug-fixes, and features, that allow us to quickly create patches on production as well as parallel development of features and enhancements on a separate branch. All of our code is deployed through the build process that pulls the code out of the repository and deploys on a specific environment such as staging, testing or production.
For some of our projects, clients ask to use GitHub or GitLabs for a variety of reasons. Our processes leverage git protocol and are not tied to GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket or other such tools.
Balsamiq – for Mockups, and Wireframes
Balsamiq is one of our favorite tools to create wireframes and mockups. Balsamiq allows us to create low-fidelity User Interface mockups that resemble hand-written sketching on a paper, or whiteboard but using a computer. One of the reasons we love Balsamiq that it really forces users to focus on structure and content, avoiding discussions about colors and details that should come later in the process. This is one of the common problems when sharing mockups with customers. Many users give feedback on the colors instead of focusing on the flows and layout.
Design – Photoshop, Sketch, Invision, Zeplin, and Figma
Photoshop and Sketch are our goto tools for creating visual layouts for our software products. The sketch is considered to be a standard for creating intuitive UI. We share designs on Zeplin and InVision, that let us collaborate, handoff, and comment on digital product designs.
Often times, we use Figma for clients looking for something in between a mock-up and prototype. Figma lets us quickly turnaround mid-fidelity prototypes and some designs.
Voice and Conferencing – Skype, Ring.io, Ripcord, Google Meet
We use Google Meet calls for all of our scheduled calls with prospects, clients, partners as well as the internal team. Google Meet allows screen share as well as voice and video conference.
For VOIP, we use Ring.io for outgoing calls to landline and cell phones, as well as incoming calls.
We use Ripcord to analyze, record and transcribe calls for coaching, training and mentoring purposes. Ripcord software not only allows recording of the call through its system, but it also allows recording and transcribing of calls initiated outside ripcord, such as Skype calls from desktop, regular landline calls, GoToMeeting, Zoom and Google Meet call.
Despite the market flooding with new competitors, Skype is still one of the best applications for Adhoc voice calls. Since our team is mostly remote in different parts of the world, Skype is very helpful for quick calls.
Screen Recording – Loom
A lot of applications can do screen recording, but we liked Loom because of its features and unlimited cloud storage, as that itself covers the cost. Looms allow you to record not only screen but also camera, which is a nice feature for recording tutorials and training. There is no limit on the number of recorded video in their Pro version. Even on their free tier, Loom lets you record your screen, draw on the screen, and record the narrator from your webcam.
Another benefit is that Loom will let you edit your video right after you record. After that, Loom will upload and host your video so it’s instantly ready to share!
These are some of the common tools that we use company-wide. There are a few additional tools that different people in our company use that improves productivity and few because of personal preferences. As we are learning as we grow, we are continuously adding tools that improve productivity and simplify the processes.