10 Ways to Make the Cloud Work for You

Collaborate Effectively With a Distributed Team
You could cluster around a conference table and some stale breakfast pastries, or you could meet in the cloud. Your choice. Image Source/Thinkstock

In the early days of the Internet, project collaboration looked like this: You created a file on your computer. Then you attached that file to an e-mail and sent it to a group of people for review. They each downloaded the attachment, made edits and sent it back. You were stuck with multiple versions of the file and the unenviable task of merging all the comments.

Collaboration sites can eliminate these frustrations. Multiple people can share these virtual workspaces, regardless of their location. Typically, an administrator sets up the account and then invites users to join. He or she can assign people specific roles, which limits what they can do and what information they can access while they're in the space.

Most good collaboration sites offer a core set of functions that enable team members to communicate, exchange ideas and share files without relying on e-mail. The best sites streamline file versioning and scheduling and allow users to initiate discussions about any aspect of a project. When used effectively, a collaboration site functions as a comprehensive archive of all related project work.

Basecamp, from 37signals, is one of the best-known. It's been around for several years and offers a robust set of tools. Onehub is another interesting option, allowing companies to set up secure, cloud-hosted portals that can be used to share, preview, discuss and edit documents or other large files.