7 Helpful Collaboration Tools to Keep your Team on Track

Here at in4ray we are doing lot of work with a distributed team. All our team members located in different locations and timezones. And I’m really excited seeing how we set up our environment to work this way. We are using great collaboration tools and continuously looking for new ones to improve our productivity and make sure we are doing great mobile games. Here are some of the tools we use every day to help us stay connected, track our team progress and get things done.

Trello: work organization and tracking

Trello is a task tracking online tool that gives you a visual overview of what is being worked on and who is working on it. It used the Kanban system, which was developed in Toyota as a system to keep production levels high and maintain flexibility. Trello is a system of boards, lists and cards. This creates a system that allows for teams track scope of work and collaborate to keep track ongoing progress and continuously provide product increment.
Here’s an example of our board where we track our Firefly project:

Trello is a great tool to visually manage your work and effectively communicate with other team members with built-in comments. We use Trello to manage all our projects. We have dedicated Trello board for each project, including our web site and gaming SDK:

We use columns to organize end to end feature workflow. Trello’s colored labels indicate feature status and inform about it readiness. Checklists are using to break down work per each feature on smaller executable tasks.

Google Hangouts: face-to-face communication and screen sharing

Google Hangouts is online video chat and screen sharing tool that helps stay in touch with your teammates, specifically when your are working remotely. In few clicks you can generate new video call and start conversation.
Here’s I’m calling to my team members that are locating far away:

This collaboration tool helps us see each other and feel more like we work together in one room. We use video chat as a sync up call to communicate current project status that we are working on, discuss upcoming tasks and revise impediments. Google Hangouts also provide us with screen sharing capability that we frequently use to share game design and screens for further discussions and commenting.

Slack: keep in touch with team members

We use Slack as instant communication and collaboration tool. This tool lets us create different channels as well as have one-to-one conversations. We use Slack to share insights, comments, feedbacks and receive immediate response from other team members.
Here is how our channel looks like:

Before we’ve used Skype as a primary messaging tool. But recently we’ve faced with performance degradation issue as well as increase of annoying advertising within the tool. So we considered migrate to Slack.

Google Office: document management

Google Office is set of online tools that provides capabilities for editing docs, sheets and slides. We use Google Docs to specify game requirements and textual marketing materials. Google Sheets we use to store results of market research and comparative analysis. You can easily edit documents from desktop or mobile web clients as well as sync all document with local file system using Google Drive.
Here is snapshot of our document space on Google Drive:

DropBox: file sharing and collaboration

DropBox is our favorite cloud-based file sharing and collaboration tool. We use it to store game media files, promo content, installable packages, publishing materials and other files for later sharing among team members.
Here is our file structure organization on DropBox:

Realtime Board: ideation and whiteboarding

RealtimeBoard is collaborative tool with endless whiteboard as well as various functionality. We use it within our team to create moodboards, visualize user workflows and design screen maps. With RealtimeBoard, you can create concepts, collect ideas, get feedback, and see the big picture of your product with your team.
Here is screen map of one of our games:

Super easy to use. No learning curve as it is simple as a whiteboard. Easy to start and integrate an online whiteboard into your workflow and onboard new team members.

IFTTT: make your workflow

IFTTT is online service that allows create chain of simple conditional statements (in a format of “If This Then That”), called “recipes”, which are triggered based on changes to other online services such as Gmail, Trello, DropBox, Instagram, Pinterest and a lot lot more. At the current moment we’ve configured several recipes. For example, we use IFTTT to send instant message into Slack channel when card created/updated in corresponding Trello board. Also we send instant message into Slack channel when file created/updated on DropBox.
Here is list of our recipes:


Hope this insight into our collaboration and communication tools was valuable for you. I’m excited to discover and share with you new tools that helps improve team productivity and performance. It will be great to know what tools do you use to keep in touch with your teammates and keep track your ongoing progress. Let me know in the comments below.

Originally published at measureofluck.com on August 19, 2015.