The 10 Best Collaborative Web Tools for Business


This is a blog post by Drea Knufken.

Desktop software may soon be a thing of the past. This is especially true in collaboration applications–the kind project managers and work groups use. Web-based solutions from SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) providers are quickly replacing networked office servers. The reasons are compelling. To name a few:

* Secure, remote access from anywhere with an Internet connection
* Lower software costs
* Little to no setup costs
* No need for technicians to setup
* No long-term commitments
* Centralization
* Compatible with any operating system
* No updating
* No patching
* No backing up
* Add new users instantly
* No computer dependence

What are My Options?

Ready to try a web-based approach? You have a boatload of options. To give you an idea of what’s out there, we’ve reviewed ten of the best applications available. Some of these applications are best suited for project managers. Others are for more generalized corporations. Still others are best for big business. Pick the one that best suits your needs–and try before you buy.

10. Socialcast



* Microblogging
* Group creation
* Company social network
* File attaching
* Email integration
* RSS feeds


* Creative setup process
* Clean, simple interface
* Very easy to use
* Well-executed microblogging
* Desktop, mobile clients


* Extremely limited functionality
* Not much business use
* Could be less productive to use
* No outsider integration


Socialcast is dubbed a “microblogging” application. The homepage has a non-traditional, in-your-face design. Socialcast makes it easy to navigate through their homepage to discover everything their software can offer. Instead of wasting time reading, I simply enter my work email address, press one button, and my private network is created. (If someone already created a network for your business, you’ll join it after confirming your email address.)

I follow a link to my network via email. Next, I have to enter my personal and work information, as well as optionally invite other users I work with, below, for, etc. This helps to easily create an organized network within your company. After finishing these quick steps, I have the option to download their desktop client (Adobe AIR; pretty neat).

Upon entering the application for the first time, I’m greeted with a very airy, open interface that reminds me strongly of the iTunes layout (wonder if that was on purpose). I’m hit with two assumptions right away. One, as they obviously stated, this application is completely microblogging/Twitter-centric. Secondly, it doesn’t seem like this does much more than that.

While there is detailed profile information, social aspects, groups, etc, I don’t see any features that are really business-focused. That makes me think. Why would I want this in my business? Yes, it does act as a much better communication tool as opposed to email. But it doesn’t seem like its aim is to do that because it floods your inbox with updates for every possible action (option to disable). And if you’re going to introduce a communication tool for your business, why not have the functionality to handle tasks, events, wikis, organized files, project collaboration, CRM, etc.?

I continued to spend some more time using this application but simply couldn’t find anything else to do with it. If you’re looking for a real bare-bones way to communicate in your office, then maybe this could work for you. This “basic” service (vs. the enterprise package) is free and available to an unlimited amount of users. I would recommend testing out a few others before really committing your time and resources to an application as bland as this.


Free for basic use (unlimited users). Must call for the enterprise pricing.


* AppAppeal: Socialcast Review
* Socialcast is FriendFeed for your business

9. Zoho Projects



* Task lists
* Overviews of task dependency
* Project milestones
* Streaming project activities and status messages
* Calendar
* Folders
* Integrated with Zoho Office
* Forum discussions
* Wikis
* Chat rooms
* Project reports (Gantt charts)
* Timesheets
* Integrated with Zoho Invoice
* SSL support

* Great features for project managers
* Good, detailed task lists
* Strong calendar feature
* Milestones
* Gantt charts
* Good for small businesses or contractors
* Invoicing
* Pretty useful for a free software

* Not very organized or intuitive UI
* Interface isn’t that pretty
* Not very customizable


Zoho Projects’ homepage is busy and kind of cluttered. This is a theme that continues into the application itself. After choosing a username and password, you enter the URL you want to use for your project. Before getting to the main dashboard, you create your project name and description. Add client names and users on that first page.

Now your dashboard appears. There’s a big profile picture of you (anonymous until you enter a real image) on the left hand side. On this page, you can update your own status and read the status updates of others. The updates are intuitive, saying what you did in a short sentence. I did notice that the system was a little slow when I made changes.

Besides your dashboard, there are 10 tabs. They are: Tasks & Milestones, Calendar, Meetings, Documents, Timesheet, Reports, Forums, Wiki, Chat, and Users. Initially, it looks like a lot of features are haphazardly put together. In the free version we tried, you can’t pick and choose which features to display on your dashboard. It would be nice to customize the clutter out of this setup, but you can’t. Here are some of the highlights:

Tasks & Milestones: When you enter a new milestone, you can flag it to choose whether to make the milestone internal (private) or external (visible to other users). Task lists are similar, with advanced options like start/end date, priority (none to high), and % completed (from a dropdown menu). You can reorder, delete, or copy the tasks once they’re on your list.

The calendar is customizable–it will show tasks, milestones, and/or meetings based on your selections. The meetings section is pretty basic, but does include repeats and participants. The Documents page lets you share documents. I didn’t test it, because I was using the free version. According to the Zoho Project demo, you can store and organize your files in a central area. The system is compatible with ZohoDocs and Google docs. It includes version management, tags, and folders. The program also lets you preview images, add links, and notify users of updates.

Timesheets also aren’t included in the free version. Here’s what the demo says. You can go to a date on your calendar, click on a timesheet icon, and enter tasks, duration, and billable/non-billable on the right sidebar that appears. If you want, set a timer to automatically log your time. You click on the timer to start and stop it, then your time automatically records on your calendar. Finally, you can create an invoice from timesheet from “Create Invoice” link. That’s a perfect feature for contractors or small business owners working with remote vendors or clients.

The Reports section automatically generates a Gantt chart based on your open tasks. You can customize your chart and upload statistics by user or folder. The Forums page lets you build your own forum, by project. The wiki sums up your changes to the pages in your project. It would be nice if the wiki were more customizable. Next comes the Chat page, featuring a pretty basic chat window that allows you to send files, too.

Onto the Users section. List users here, either as project or client users. At the right, there are settings, support, and help tabs. In settings, there are two tabs: General Settings and Company Profile. In general settings, you enter your own name, nickname, job title, and phone numbers. In company profile, you enter your company’s website, address, timezone, and name. Finally, in Setting, you adjust your task lists and templates.

Overall, there’s a tendency for the same function to appear in more than one place, making the UI a bit unintuitive. It’s hard to get used to. Also, if you navigate into your profile, you get a whole different profile menu. It’s not your dashboard. When I did this, it took me a few tries to even figure out where my dashboard went and how to get back to it. Also, things aren’t very customizable—take it as it comes.

The chat, invoicing, and forum features make this application great for small businesses and independent contractors, especially those working remotely. The Gantt charts, milestones, and a few other features make it good for project managers, too. If they fixed the bulky interface, it would make a big difference.

* Free version for one project only.
* Standard $12/month
* Express $20/month
* Premium: $35/month
* Enterprise: $80/month

* TechCrunch: ZohoProjects challenges Basecamp on project management
* SmallBizTrends: Review of Zoho Projects: Project Management Tool
* CIO: Kiss Microsoft Office Goodbye: Three Alternatives to Office 2010

8. PBWorks



* Collaborative page editing
* Audit trail / activity feeds
* Document management
* Projects
* In-depth security and permission options
* Versions for different businesses
* Tagging / folders
* Search
* Real-time collaboration


* Massive customer base
* Sleek, rich interface
* High-end customization


* Confusing to learn
* Expensive
* Seems geared to big businesses / enterprises


PBWorks originally started out as PBWiki, strictly a hosted wiki service for businesses. Now, they’ve made the leap into full business and enterprise collaboration services.

Their company website features a minimalistic, sleek design. Things got more confusing once I found that there are editions for personal use, business use, academic use, legal use, and so on. It’s assuring to know that they offer these custom solutions to make their applications a better fit, but it might be a little intimidating if you’re just a typical small business looking for an app. The features page seems to be missing some detail as it doesn’t really explain what you’re getting in a straight-forward manner.

The only thing I found about pricing or packages was that it’s $20/user per month. But there’s a big ‘Free Trial’ button…let’s check that out. After completing the first page about myself and my business, I’m given the option to have a rep call me and walk through their business edition with a custom demo (30-40 minute long call), or simply go to the free trial. Free trial it is. After finishing the registration, they remind me that my “PBWorks network is made up of workspaces, a collection of documents about a specific topic, like a project (I’m) working on. Each workspace contains pages. Create and edit workspace pages to store content about the topic (I’m) working on.”

The application interface has a very sleek, simple design to it, which I like. A quick browse of the settings shows some in-depth customization abilities, as well as information about some real-time collaboration tools they offer. I also notice the widget at the bottom where you can open a live chat at any time. Very nice.

I enter the free trial workspace they created for me to get an idea of what this application really does. Again, the interface is beautiful but there’s a problem. I’m confused and intimidated. I don’t know where to start. There are 27 sections and even more buttons. At this point, I’m not sure what creating a “Page” even does. I finally find a button to start a project, but I’m not sure if that’s part of this workspace, or part of this page, or where it really belongs.

Clearly, this application is powerful. It’s loaded with features and widgets. But it’s confusing at first. Perhaps a video or documentation would have given me the clarity I needed to use this in the first place.

Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t like the segregated workspace/page system. I know this review didn’t explain much but I couldn’t come up with much myself without doing serious homework. I would suggest running through the free trial yourself or watching some of their videos.


$20 a user per month? Not much pricing information included on the site.


* Looking for an alternative to Basecamp: review of PBworks Project Edition
* AppAppeal: PBWorks Review

7. Onehub



* Folders / Tagging
* Comments and tags
* Previews
* Shared calendar
* Task list
* Wikis with rich text editing
* Multimedia file storage and hosting
* Customization and branding for emails and workspaces
* FTP / email integration
* Search

* Fast
* Intuitive, simple interface
* Very customizable, using widgets
* Lots of private/public settings
* Lots of personal attention from staff after you sign up
* FTP access is flexible, useful, and fast
* Good customer service


* Annoying activities updates
* Search could be better
* Limited functions—not great for project managers


Onehub’s homepage is clean and relatively intuitive. But the standout design of Onehub’s “Hub” system doesn’t become apparent until you log in.

Signing up is really easy. Fill in your time zone, confirm your Web address, and customize your Hubs (workspaces). You customize by choosing a color scheme, giving it a name, and branding your Hub with your company’s logo. This is the first of several touches that makes Onehub ultra-customizable.

The dashboard interface is clean and simple. There are four tabs: Files, Tasks, Calendar, and Comments. Farther away from those tabs, there are four more tabs: Share, Notify, Manage, and Design & Add Widgets.

The first page on your dashboard is called Files. It gives you the option to upload, download, copy, or move files. You can also create folders. The file I tested uploaded almost instantly. The fact that you have to press the Upload button twice to get your file uploaded is one of the system’s more unintuitive design features. Also, moving files is a little cumbersome. You have to select from various menus. Drag/drop would be easier.

Adding a new task to the Tasks page is easy and intuitive, and lets you add tags to each task. Once you submit your task, it appears on your calendar, which offers a month, week, or day view. It’s also very easy to add tasks to your calendar. After testing the files, tasks, and calendar feature, I became annoyed by the activity updates that appeared every time I made a change. They show up on the right hand side of every page. They’re too detailed, in my opinion. Here’s an example of one:

Betty Smith added the comment “commenting back” to the Comments Comments Widget within the Betty Smith Project Hub.

Now imagine ten of those. It would be nice to be able to customize your recent activity so that you can sort by or show things that are relevant, rather than every single detail. The comments area is also unintuitive. I can only see it working if you custom-design it onto another page–which, as you’ll see later, you can do. Finally, I wasn’t impressed with the search feature. When I tested it, it didn’t find any of my tags. It also didn’t find the text of my comments.

Next, let’s navigate to the tabs on the top left of the page: Share, Notify, Manage, and Design & Add Widgets. The “share” function lets you invite more users. This function isn’t synced up with any email providers, so you have to enter each user manually. It takes some time. The invitations, however, get sent instantly, reaffirming that Onehub is fast. The Notify function, on another page, notifies users of updates by email.

Next is the Manage page. It contains a count of how many items you’ve shared, how many you’ve recycled, and how much storage you’re using. It also contains your settings area. In settings, you can select whether to have enhanced security (https) on your page or not. You can set public access for your hub—whether the public can see it or not—and add an expiration date for that access. There’s also a right-hand sidebar where you can perform a series of actions. These include email notifications, a history of activities in each of your Hubs, tweaking your color scheme/branding, FTP settings, privacy settings, and deleting Hubs and items from your recycling bin.

Finally, let’s navigate to the Design & Add Widgets page. It lets you customize each page or Hub using widgets. These widgets are amazing, and a real strength of the UI. All the features mentioned above—calendar, tasks, etc.—you can mix and match into a Hub, depending on what you want. You can also customize the pages themselves, so that your calendar only appears as a right sidebar on your Tasks page, you don’t have a comments page at all, etc. You can pretty much create a custom experience based on simple functions. It’s really easy to design and add widgets. This was my favorite part of the Onehub experience.

After I signed up, I received three personal emails from Onehub staff. This could be a nice personal touch, or annoying, depending on how you see it. I appreciate good customer service; these guys made it pretty clear that they wanted you to have a good experience with Onehub.

Overall, Onehub’s interface is easy to navigate and highly functional. This makes it good for general collaboration projects. But simple is the catchphrase here. If you need more advanced or project manager-specific software, look elsewhere.


* Personal: $24/month
* Basic: $49/month
* Team: $99/month
* Professional: $249/month
* Enterprise: $499/month

* Practical ECommerce: OneHub Enables Virtual Collaboration
* ReadWriteWeb: Onehub Makes FTP Simple, Straightforward, and Sexy
* Marketing Tech Blog: A Masterpiece in Usability and Design: Onehub

6. CentralDesktop



* Collaborative workspaces
* Conferencing
* Wikis
* Blogs
* Project management
* Database creation
* Audit trails
* File storage
* Document management
* Search
* Online document collaboration/editing
* Reporting
* Forums
* Calendars
* Task management


* Epic customization
* Massive customer base
* Very full-featured
* Tons of helpful information & videos


* Intimidating interface
* Seems geared to large corporations
* Confusing/expensive pricing
* No custom URL


CentralDesktop is a big player in the collaboration space, creating collaboration apps since 2005. Like Socialcast, CentralDesktop’s homepage is loaded with information. They have an impressive customer list that highlights companies like Oracle and Amtrak. You get a sense that this is geared for big players. After some more investigating, I find three editions: Workgroup (SMB), Enterprise (50+ employees), and Community (non-profits, etc). Each come with different prices and features. It looks like they follow the “workspace” model as well.

Signing up for the Workgroup edition was relatively painless. Your software is ready to go instantly, just like the others. You’re met with a not-so-attractive starter interface asking whether you want start with a workspace or a conference. And we’re told that:

“Workspaces are ideal for: Project Management, Creating Team or Department Intranets, Sharing Documents, Files and Calendars. Web Meeting Benefits: Collaborate with Customers, Partners and Vendors, Reduce Travel Expenses, Provide Personalized Technical Support.”

So we’ll make a workspace. Let me digress for a minute. I have a problem with “workspace”-dependent applications. Providers base their pricing models on how many workspaces you have. Say you’re paying for 10 workspaces. You complete 10 projects and now have to create 10 more. You’re faced with the choice of either deleting your completed projects or paying more money. That seems like a petty attempt to squeeze more money from customers. Isn’t the whole point of web-based collaborative software to store everything on one central location?

Enough ranting. Back to my workspace. I’m given a bunch of options, the important ones being workspace type: Project Management, Wiki, Database, Blog, Forum, or Custom.

I’ll try a project management interface first. It is ugly and looks pretty pre-Web 2.0. The interface includes the typical files, tasks, calendars, announcements, time tracking, milestones, etc. Without diving too deeply into things, it looks like it would be very suitable to handle a collaborative project.

Before deleting this project so I can test out other features, I take a look at the project settings. Jeez. While there are close to a thousand settings and options, which is extremely useful, it’s just plain daunting to look at. Customization is great, and these guys left nothing out. A friendlier way of presenting you with options and settings would be nice. Now…how do I delete this project so I can move on?

For the last test, I create a workspace type “Database.” It’s taken a little while to make it through the process, but I see some useful features here. I can import spreadsheets, use a pre-defined template (contact directory, product catalog, asset tracker, etc), or even create my own database from scratch. I tried out a basic contact directory. It’s up and running in a second, and serves its function perfectly.

I haven’t even begun to test the depth of this application. It seems equipped to handle just about anything you throw at it. It will, however, take a while to get things configured and working how you want them. I think they might offer pre-configured setups, but you’ll have to toy around before you can really fulfill your needs.

This application seems geared towards very large companies and enterprises. It’s great software. They claim it works for everyone, though. If you’re just looking for a centralized solution for ordinary business-related features, this might be too much.


* Workgroup: Free to $99/month
* Enterprise: $10/user per month
* Community: $3/user per month


* App Gap: Central Desktop Provides Wiki-based Collaborative Platform
* Central Desktop: Quick, Convenient Collaboration
* Rolling Review: Central Desktop’s Service Eases Collaboration

5. SocialText



* Social networking
* Wiki workspaces
* Dashboard
* Collaborative blogging
* Microblogging
* Desktop/Mobile application
* “Connectors”


* Large, well-established company
* Powerful, quick interface
* Strong communication features
* Desktop & mobile applications
* Developer-friendly
* Strong project management (workspaces)


* Very difficult to understand
* Training required
* Doesn’t fulfill overall “business” software requirements
* Expensive


SocialText is a well-established and well-known player in the business collaboration space who takes credit for coining “Enterprise 2.0″. They offer a few different software solutions for businesses and enterprises, all priced differently (see pricing below). I used their “Free 50 Hosted Service” in this review.

SocialText’s homepage, at first impression, is confusing. The pages are loaded with explanations, features, case studies, options, and other clutter. This is intimidating at first, especially for a small business looking for a simple solution. Your first assumption could be that they are only targeting large enterprises (which might be the case).

If you navigate through the clutter, you can see that it is simple and quick to sign up for their “free 50″ service. With an account created, after confirming your email address, you come to a user dashboard (seen above). Other employees or team members can join the private network by registering with an email address from the same domain.

The interface is well-designed and responsive. The fonts and organization, however, make things hard to decipher. SocialText uses a similar organizational system to some of the other applications covered in this review. From what I can understand, you create ‘workspaces’ which serve as sections, or projects.

Thirty minutes later, I still can’t capture what I’m supposed to be using this service for. The application seems to have a social base to it. I was, after all, greeted with an activity feed and the ability to microblog. But I don’t see any ability to enter the basic business stuff, like CRM-related information. I can’t even see where to create tasks, events, or upload files.

This application appears powerful, but must require thorough training. I’m left with thinking this service is most likely strong if you need to collaborate on projects or large tasks. I could be wrong about my analysis. Then again, if after 30 minutes you’re still confused, there’s a problem.

“Free 50 Hosted Service” – basic functionality, hosted, free for up to 50 users. “Social Software Hosted Service” – $6/user per month with a minimum of 50 users, features more advanced functionality. On-site application ‘Microblogging’ software is $1/user per month plus $1,000 per month server charge. On-site application ‘Social’ software is $6/user per month plus $1,000 per month server charge.


* CMSWire: Socialtext Offers Free Hosted Social Networking, Social Spreadsheet
* InformationWeek: Web 2.0 Collaboration Rolling Review: Socialtext
* AppAppeal: SocialText Review

4. WizeHive



* Workspace-style organization
* Interface customization
* Activity tracking
* File sharing
* Tasks & Projects
* Email integration
* Calendars
* Desktop client
* Developer API


* Automated organizational structure
* Rapid, easy-to-use interface
* Email integration
* Clear activity tracking
* Inexpensive


* Slightly confusing workflow
* Aesthetically unpleasant
* Lack of general socialization
* No custom URL


WizeHive has a great homepage, refreshing to visit after having to scroll through hundreds of pages of content on SocialText’s site. Their site outlines exactly what WizeHive does and why you should start using it. Signing up is also a breeze. They offer a free service, but it’s quite limited for business use.

I quickly set up an account/network. Now I land into my first “workspace”. From what I can comprehend, you create a workspace for a team or department or major project, and then you create pages within the workspace to act as sub-sections. The interface is far from aesthetically pleasing, but it’s well organized, easy to read, and very fast. I would easily trade organization and functionality for flashy graphics any time (right, Google?).

The workspace and paging system keep work organized and allow for effective collaboration. Each workspace opens with an activity feed to keep users apprised of all the recent activity. They also have sections where you can manage tasks, upload files, manage your calendar, and add links and users.

While the workspace system keeps things organized, I feel a sense of segregation. Yes, you can be part of multiple workspaces, but things feel very departmentalized. What if I just want to create a general task or track events on a calendar? What if I want to see what work Joe, my sales guy, is working on? Sometimes the needs of a business aren’t always so cut-and-dry. You might want to simply upload a batch of commonly-needed documents. I’m also missing the sort of freestyle communication and socialization that other applications offer.

Overall, the organization is handled well. The application features an intuitiveness that SocialText misses. I would recommend testing this service out for a while before really committing to it, to ensure its functionality suits your needs.

Price: Free to $39 per month (Enterprise plan pricing not listed on the site). Packages are based on ‘workspaces’ and memory, not users, as well as a handful of advanced features.


* AppVita: WizeHive – Collaborate Online
* WWD: WizeHive Upgrades to Compete in the Crowded Project Management Arena
* CMSWire: Wizehive Socially Tackles SMB Doc Collaboration

3. CubeTree



* Micro-blogging, status updates
* Profiles and social information
* Wikis
* Task management
* File uploads
* Blogging
* Groups
* Polls
* Photo sharing
* Tagging, searching, filtering
* Multiple clients
* RSS feeds


* Very easy to use and get started with
* Clean, simple, responsive interface
* Inexpensive
* Developer API
* RSS feeds
* Web, desktop, mobile clients
* Effective intra-office communications


* A little too much “social network”
* Lacking business features like CRM
* No custom URL


CubeTree open its doors in 2008 to embrace the integration of Facebook and Twitter-like tools into the enterprise. They did a good job. Starting with the CubeTree home page, things look clean and simple.

The application itself offers a Twitter-like interface. You’re greeted with a clean, responsive, unintimidating interface. Aside from a small menu filled with ‘Getting Started’ links, which point to some basic functionality such as uploading a document and editing your profile, the home page hides many of CubeTree’s main features. The software is modeled on the microblogging and activity feed concept. You have to ‘follow’ your coworkers to connect with them.

Your ‘Profile’ page looks like the most useful hub. The sidebar contains links to add blog posts, wiki pages, tasks, uploads, polls, and several other features. Each content section is linked at the bottom, keeping things organized. You add and edit easily, by filling out a few simple fields. The simplistic interface gets a little confusing when you’re browsing sections such as “Tasks,” however. The lack of design makes it hard to separate the content and controls.

CubeTree also brings the ability to create groups for any purpose. You can input lots of details about your company, its organization, information, and your personal profile and information. This all comes together to create a complete social, interactive community for your company.

Is it useful enough to adopt into your business? You be the judge. Collaborative tools most often try to eliminate email as the main form of communication. Cubetree does a good job or providing a much more effective communication tool.

Price: Free to $5 per user per month. Three packages available, each with different features, tracking ability, and storage space allotments.


* TechCrunch: CubeTree Launches As A Facebook + FriendFeed + Twitter For Enterprise
* AppAppeal: CubeTree Review
* CMSWire: CubeTree – Social Networking for the Enterprise

2. Basecamp



* Powerful project management
* Client integration
* Comprehensive dashboard
* In-depth user permissions and visibility controls
* To-do lists
* File sharing
* Chat
* Data export
* Message boards
* Milestones
* Time tracking


* Customizable interface design
* Data exporting
* Developer API
* Third-party integration
* Mobile support & applications
* Massive customer base


* Lack of functionality outside of project management
* Bland design


Brought to your by 37signals, Basecamp is probably the most widely-used project management application on the Internet. They claim to have over 3 million users, 1 thousand companies registering weekly, and a number of major corporations as clients. The company also offers 3 other collaborative web applications: Backpack (office intranet), Highrise (CRM), and Campfire (real-time chat).

I understand that 90% of clients probably would only want one, or maybe two, of these applications, but why not also offer a combination of them all to businesses that want a complete collaborative platform? It seems that the applications can integrate, but who wants to register for 4 services, then go through the trouble of setting them all up?

Back to Basecamp. Sign up is a breeze, especially for the free package. You’re brought to your dashboard, which features a helpful ‘Getting Started’ video, options to customize the interface, and links to all of your sections.

The interface is plain, but also easy to navigate. As I mentioned earlier about WizeHive, functionality means more than aesthetics. The settings section gives you lots of options to customize the look and feel of the application.

Next, I enter the “People” section. Here, I can add companies and the contacts that are associated with them. This could serve as a basic CRM system, but isn’t intended to. It enables you to connect other people/users with projects. This keep things organized and allows outsiders to collaborate on the projects that belong to them.

After adding companies/clients into the system, I create a project. I have the option of keeping the project internal or attaching a company/client to it. Upon entering my new project, I come across the project’s dashboard. It contains an overview of all of the project information, including new messages, to-do lists, milestones, and other tools. Projects also have dedicated whiteboards and chat rooms.

Adding new messages, to-do lists, and other new items is fast and simple. Every item has intuitive options such as user visibility, notifications, email alerts, and assignments. Aside from individual items, projects also have great permission controls. And to wrap up the main feature highlights, Basecamp offers effective project-level or global searching.

This application is nearly perfect for project management. It is intended for project management, but this roundup is for general business collaboration. While the other applications can’t handle projects nearly as well, they can handle basic project-related needs (tasks, events, wikis, blogs, chat, etc). If you’re a project manager, go for Basecamp. If you’re looking for more general collaboration, test it out, among others, to see if it suits your needs.


* Free: 1 project; unlimited users
* $24/month: 15 projects; 5GB, unlimited users
* $49/month: 35 projects; 15GB, unlimited users
* $99/month: 100 projects; 30GB, unlimited users
* $149/month: Unlimited projects; 75GB, unlimited users


* SocialSignal: Project management and workflow with Basecamp
* Small Business Trends: Basecamp – A Good Choice to Manage Projects for the Web Savvy

1. OfficeMedium



* Client integration
* Contact information management
* Task management
* Event coordination
* Personal and group calendars
* File sharing and storage
* Resource and document management
* Shared blogging
* Real-time chat
* Private messaging
* Status updates
* User profiles
* Polling
* Searching and tagging
* Email updates and notifications


* Extremely simple to use
* Comprehensive suite of features
* Well designed
* Fast, rich interface
* Simple pricing model
* Based on Drupal


* Relatively new company
* Lack of mobile support
* Lack of developer API
* Lack of group creation


OfficeMedium is the newest service on this list to hit the software collaboration market. Unlike others, it is built entirely on Drupal, the popular open-source content management platform.

The homepage gives a quick overview of what the software can do and the problems it solves. Conveniently, OfficeMedium offers a full-featured, live demo of their software for your to try out instantly. We gave both the demo and trial a shot.

After completing the registration form, which is slightly confusing because you have to enter some information twice, you’re given a link to the custom URL you requested. Upon logging in, you’re presented with a well-designed interface. The dashboard offers a central place to see everything going on in your project and user base. Its one-stop-shop design is refreshing and useful.

The dashboard features eight blocks. The blocks include Recent Content, Recent Comments, Mini Calendar, Upcoming Tasks & Events, Latest Poll, Real-time Chat Box, Recent User Activity, and Recent Status Updates. The upper horizontal navigation menu gives you links to the main sections of the intranet. These include Tasks, Events, Calendar, Contacts, Resources, Files, Shoutbox (real-time chatting), Polls, and Blog. Each menu item drops down so you can choose between all items or just your items. Each section has comprehensive filtering, tagging, and sorting abilities, making search a breeze.

OfficeMedium integrates popular social aspects into the software without making social networking the core building block of the software (like CubeTree). Users have their own profiles, activity feeds, statuses, as well as the ability to send private messages, create blog entries, comment on items, vote on polls, and chat.

OfficeMedium segments users into three categories. Superusers have full access and control of the site. Employees have general intra-office accounts. Clients have accounts that allow outsiders to securely log in and help collaborate on items. Client accounts can only see material that they either create or that is brought to their “attention.” The “attention” system is also a useful, creative mechanism you can use when creating content items to delegate or attach users to.

There are a few notable limitations to the software. There’s no group creation, third-party integrations, mobile support, or API. It’s not specific to project management. But the tasks, events, resource content types, and tagging system do a thorough job tackling most project collaboration.

Social media integration, comprehensive design, features, and ease of use make OfficeMedium a winner. Give the demo or free trial a shot.

Price: $6 per user, $1 per gigabyte per month. No packages to choose from. All features and support included. First month and 512MB of storage free.


* Erictric: OfficeMedium – The Online Corporate Workspace for Corporate Users Old and New
* RWW: OfficeMedium – Intranet for the Small Business User
* Dennis Howlett: Could OfficeMedium be the SME portal of the future?
* CMSWire: OfficeMedium – Web Based Intranet and Collaboration Based on Drupal

NOTE: OfficeMedium is offering an extended free trial for Business Pundit readers with teams of four or more people. Have all of your users sign up here. After all of your users have signed up, email within 72 hours. In your email, make the subject line “PROMO” and body “BIZPUNDIT90.” Their support staff will update your accounts after receiving the email.

Drea Knufken is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter and content strategist. Her work has appeared in national publications including WIRED, Computerworld, National Geographic, Minyanville, Backpacker Magazine and others. For more information, please visit You can also find Drea via her blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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  1. Carrie Young's Gravatar Comment by Carrie Young on January 18th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for putting Socialcast in your top 10! We’re glad that we were included.

    I wanted to add a few details about our integrations, which help make the business case for the product. One goal of Socialcast is to socialize data that would not otherwise be available to the network. This is done through a variety of integrations, from Sharepoint to Outlook ad custom API integrations. We have clients that import data from sales databases and other legacy systems, bringing previously unseen data into view for everyone to see.

    If we can share any further details, let us knw. Again, thank you for including us!

  2. Andrew Macdonald's Gravatar Comment by Andrew Macdonald on January 18th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for the comprehensive reviews of collaborative software and project management tools.

    For those interested in other lists of online (or desktop) project management software, I’ve compiled lists and reviews at the Task and Project Management Software List.

    Note: also includes task management, to-do list and GTD software.

  3. swalker's Gravatar Comment by swalker on January 18th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Data visualization dashboards can be useful for low learning curve data analysis. offers a free tool right on Web.

  4. Fern's Gravatar Comment by Fern on January 18th, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I was thrilled to see WizeHive in your list of top 10! Thanks for including us! I wanted to point out that WizeHive could be as simple or complex as you need it to be by customizing it for your use. Our form builder, data utilities, and workflow tools enable collaboration around business process such as managing projects, processing resumes, evaluating funding requests, scheduling development releases, and more.

    Regarding your concern about being departmentalized and just wanting to add a task to your calendar, try creating your own personal workspace for your own activities and calendar, and then viewing the “ALL” tab to see it all come together. Please continue checking back as well, we are always making changes and improvements to the functionality and interface. I’m always happy to provide more info or help too. Thanks again!

  5. Nick's Gravatar Comment by Nick on January 18th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Try, it is the easiest and friendliest team collaboration tool around.

  6. Abbe's Gravatar Comment by Abbe on January 18th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    With only 10 on your list, I’m not quite so disappointed that we didn’t make it. But your readers will find that eTouch SamePage has comparable and better features in its enterprise wiki solution. Anyone can sign up for a free trial and can read more about the features at Give it a shot.

  7. mike's Gravatar Comment by mike on January 18th, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    First, great summary. I’ve been studying the market for a few years now and you did a nice job of pulling information together. As Fern (another commenter) mentioned one of the strengths of wizehive ( is that the information is segregated by workspace so you can confidently share information with a very distinct group of people – yet you can use our top level “ALL” workspace to see information across any workspaces you are invited to. So we have customers sharing individual workspaces with clients, who can also then look at all their client activity across all workspaces in one place.

    In terms of freestyle communication the activity window lets you enter notes online, through email, or even through twitter. You can then have settings to determine whether you get that out through email, through the browser version or through our network client.

    Anyway, just wanted to mention those things. Great article, though. Nice job.

  8. Abbey James's Gravatar Comment by Abbey James on January 19th, 2010 at 12:35 am

    These tools are all single purpose web applications – to run the average small business you end up paying for multiple applications and then run into all sorts of headaches merging data…

    We looked at WORKetc (took me like 2 months to make my mind up!) but what it means is we now do all our projects, sales management and billing on the one application. That is real collaboration.

    Google it!

  9. Cyndi Stephenson's Gravatar Comment by Cyndi Stephenson on January 19th, 2010 at 7:50 am

    This is a very enlightening document that covers a lot of bases from an end user point of view. While it touches briefly on security, there is an increasing need in both federal and corporate environments for a seamlessly integrated product that provides true end-to-end encryption at the FIPS 140-2 level. VIACK Corporation is the leading authority on secure online meetings and communications serving the enterprise and government markets. VIA3, by VIACK is certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as FIPS 140-2 compliant, certified as DCTS-compliant by the DISA Joint Interoperability Test Command. VIA3 was built from the ground up incorporating the highest standard of security, enabling users to conduct meetings and communications over the Internet without risking theft or interception of confidential information. For more information, go to and read our white papers on security issues in web based conferencing tools.

  10. Cyndi Stephenson's Gravatar Comment by Cyndi Stephenson on January 19th, 2010 at 9:39 am

    This is another great tool for evaluating web based conferencing tools. Go to to see their top ten selections for 2009. It is very organized and very educational. More importantly, it is completely unbiased and addresses the security issue.

  11. Pankaj's Gravatar Comment by Pankaj on January 19th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    You seem to have missed HyperOffice (, while we are amongst the only companies to be offering small business collaboration tools since 1998. HyperOffice also has the most comprehensive toolset in the market with communication (email, Outlook synching), collaboration (document management, workspaces, forums, contacts, calendars, project management, polls), online meeting and database applications/web forms integrated in a single suite.

    If Google searches amount for anything, I would like to point out our search rankings for some of the phrases you have used.

    Online Small Business Collaboration Tool – #2
    Online Small Business Collaboration Software – #1
    Small Business Collaboration Tool – #1
    business collaboration – #5
    small business collaboration – #1

  12. Pierre-Julien Grizel's Gravatar Comment by Pierre-Julien Grizel on January 19th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I think you should also mention BlueKiwi ( which is an innovative corporate-grade Community Management platform.

  13. Pierre-Julien Grizel's Gravatar Comment by Pierre-Julien Grizel on January 19th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    PS : Very very nice roundup otherwise ! Thanks a lot !

  14. Dina Garfinkel's Gravatar Comment by Dina Garfinkel on January 19th, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Don’t forget about LiquidPlanner! LiquidPlanner ( is a powerful project management and collaboration tool. LiquidPlanner is also extremely useful as a resource management system, easily allowing you to see who is overworked and who is available and then recalculating workload once tasks are moved around and re-prioritized. As for collaboration, users can communicate with a twitter-like system, detailed notes (with rich formatting unlike the wiki tool in basecamp), document uploads, link lists and more.

    The cost is very reasonable and for all the features it offers, totally worth it!

  15. Arturas's Gravatar Comment by Arturas on January 20th, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I think would also find it interesting to take a look at our tool – We offer a powerful online pm and collaboration tool supporting enterprise wiki, file sharing, MS Project import/export and completely customizable down to your own unique views and custom workflows and processes. Free account is available with one active project, the paid plans starts as low as $1/day for the whole team and you are paying only for the days when you actually use it!

  16. Ravi Som's Gravatar Comment by Ravi Som on January 20th, 2010 at 3:02 am

    One of my fav collaboration softwares is DeskAway, I am surprised you missed that one!

  17. Michelle's Gravatar Comment by Michelle on January 20th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Wow. That is an impressive list with a lot of details. Extremely useful! When I get the time I will go through and review them and see what might be useful for me.

  18. Rahul's Gravatar Comment by Rahul on January 21st, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Nice list. @Ravi Som : I am quite impressed with DeskAway ( Thanks for sharing it.

  19. Bart Schrooten's Gravatar Comment by Bart Schrooten on January 21st, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Thanks for the overview.

    Did you have a look at LumoFlow?

    It offers a social workspace for online collaboration and project management. With our Freemium model we’re serving a wide range of organizations from startups to sme’s. Our Enterprise version is targeted to large and stock listed organizations.

    If you get the chance let me know what you think!

    All the best,


  20. Laurel's Gravatar Comment by Laurel on January 21st, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for including Onehub. We were happy to make your top 10 list. We’ve made Onehub even more customizable this week by adding our new white label solution.

  21. Dan's Gravatar Comment by Dan on January 28th, 2010 at 6:54 am

    If you would like a tool to manage your small business activities and Projects, you can use this web aplication:

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your Goals (for business but also in other areas of your life), Projects and Tasks. It has a Checklists section, for the routines and repetitive activities that any business has to do. Also, it features a Schedules section and a Calendar, for scheduling you time and activities.

    Some features from GTD are also present, like Contexts and Next Actions.

    And it’s available on the mobile phone too, so you can access it from anywhere.

  22. Sevada Hemelians's Gravatar Comment by Sevada Hemelians on February 12th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    You should certainly include We are one of the most feature rich applications out there. Very user intuitive, accessible on all operating systems, and open sourced with a unique API for customization and development.
    We are running promotions for month of February, if you sign up on Business or Enterprise level, you get extra 250MB of storage FREE.

    Check us out…..

  23. Joe@Best Of Small Business's Gravatar Comment by Joe@Best Of Small Business on February 21st, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Great list. I love posts like this. I’m looking into programs, actually just discovering they exist, that can allow me to work with a small group locally and include some outsource partners from oversees, I’m amazed at some of the functionality that is offered in these applications.

    Thanks for making a “scary” decision much more easy to make with confidence.

    J. Crawford

  24. Andy's Gravatar Comment by Andy on March 3rd, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    This is a great idea for an article! Have you checked out Office Live Workspace? It’s a free online collaboration tool from Microsoft. Check it out here

    MSFT Office Live

  25. Amy's Gravatar Comment by Amy on March 11th, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I would encourage everyone to take a look at – – They offer a free SaaS version as well as an enterprise version that addresses a lot of the cons listed in your article, as well as some of the comments shared by the readers. You can have an extended trial set up for your company to try out. Robust reporting and analytics and they have really embraced the development community to provide improvements. Highly recommend you checking it out!

  26. Quaker's Gravatar Comment by Quaker on March 11th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I appreciate such detail with all of the products. There are quite a few collaboration tools out there, and I think many of them are pretty generic. I am a sales professional, so I prefer the Business Collaboration Network (BCN) by DRE Software ( They are a very young company, but I like the direction they are headed.

  27. Kyle's Gravatar Comment by Kyle on March 30th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I agree with your list of products. We chose one you left off your list, ProjectSpaces (, because we think it’s the easiest tool for us to use with our clients without providing them any training or support.

  28. Barney Lerten's Gravatar Comment by Barney Lerten on April 1st, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Wow, such a list! OK, here’s what I’d like – a free (to start, w/out too tight a limit on user count) internal social network for a small company. With a calendar (Socialcast lacks that, cubetree is ‘planning’ one – how hard can a calendar be?) Find me THAT, let us try it office-wide, and then we might buy into it for more support/features.
    We don’t need fancy project tracking or GANTT chats. Just a simple, Facebook-like internal company social network, where we can use a simple shared calendar to call meetings, wish folks happy birthday, etc. That can’t be too hard, and yet… I’ve looked at dozens, and they are either too much or too little. Would love to find one!

  29. Lynn's Gravatar Comment by Lynn on April 8th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Barney …. you can get a free trial at it was just what we were looking for DRE Software’s BCN (Business Collaboration Network). Great tool for internal , external use or a combination. Good luck!

  30. Dana's Gravatar Comment by Dana on May 5th, 2010 at 8:23 am

    I completely agree that you should try before you buy – solutions like this need to be tested and retested to make sure they fit your business needs, or you run the risk of people not adopting the solution. I’d like to add OnePlace ( to the list as well, as another option for business teams – small and enterprise – to stay connected, collaborate together and complete more quality work. A free trial is available, so I suggest you test it out to see how it can work for you, and test out others as well, so you get a feel of what works best for your team.

  31. Barbie Adair's Gravatar Comment by Barbie Adair on June 8th, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I agree that online solutions like SaaS are quickly replacing networked servers/solutions. I for one have had used hosted CRM, but now we switched to web crm ( because it is more practical, as we don’t have to pay for IT upgrades and all.

  32. Patrik's Gravatar Comment by Patrik on June 9th, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I can recommend It is a complete solution offering multiple groups, shared contacts, notes with revision history, forums, chatrooms, projects with case and budget tracking, timesheets and files. The nice thing is that it is all integrated. You can link related contacts, notes etc. to an open case, and also report the time you spend on each case. If you are using Firefox, there is a plugin that lets you access your data directly, making it feel more like using a local application.

  33. Ricardo's Gravatar Comment by Ricardo on June 22nd, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Great list! We’re a company with offices in CA and UT and as we move towards becoming more technology-driven, much collaboration is needed. I came across another great resource that lists many solutions not listed here. It’s an impressive compilation of solutions divided by categories like project management, mind mapping, collaborative writing and so on…
    Check it out and let me know what you think. Also, we’re looking for a solution that can help us manage creative, marketing, digital and print-related projects efficiently so stuff doesn’t fall to the way side and there’s accountability along the way. With so many freakin’ options how does one choose??? I’d love some input! We’re investing on a separate CRM system for our sales dept like SugarCRM or SaleLogix.
    The other site is

  34. Acronym List's Gravatar Comment by Acronym List on July 9th, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    The Acronym List is a searchable database of over 8 million acronyms, abbreviations and meanings. Covers: business, international, chat, organizations, common acronyms, computers, science, technology, government, telecommunications, and military acronyms.

  35. Robert's Gravatar Comment by Robert on July 22nd, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    There is an important company missing from the list that we started using a few months ago.
    The BCN DRE Software is web-based business collaboration software that can be set up by anyone without the help of It resources. I just found out they are now planning to add web conferencing in a future release.
    We use the BCN to collaborate with our customers, prospects, partners and other colleagues in a secure, personalized work space. It makes me wonder what we did without it. They gave us a free trial we used for all kinds of business scenerios
    that have work really well for us. We keep finding more and more ways to use it. We have gotten very positive feedback from our customers and I think it has really improved our response time with the email integration. We have the whole team on the same page. I think we will see big cost savings once the web conferencing is implemented. We have CRM but found there was a big hole that the DRE software filled without having to download any software we can access from anywhere and it has helped us solve issues with our offices in different time zones.There is no limit on the number of work spaces our users can create and we have unlimited storage space for all the imformation we need to share.
    5 star rating

  36. VanguardLH's Gravatar Comment by VanguardLH on August 25th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Time for the author to update his article. For example, the “Free 50″ plan is not (no longer) listed for SocialText. See for the plan/price listing.

  37. best gps review's Gravatar Comment by best gps review on September 15th, 2010 at 1:29 am

    The BCN DRE Software is web-based business collaboration software that can be set up by anyone without the help of It resources. I just found out they are now planning to add web conferencing in a future release.

  38. Steven's Gravatar Comment by Steven on October 6th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Check out this website for a Business collaboration software
    tool we implemented to help us drive revenue DRE Software. It’s a business collaboration and web conferencing all in one tool. This company really seems to get what it takes to Engage prospects, customers and business partners and build a relationship with our company using private workspaces.
    We needed a supplement to our CRM solution, and DRE Software is one of the few technologies we have found that adds direct value to the client/prospect. Which in turns has driven revenue. It’s affordable and has saved us money on our
    web conferencing budget. In the current economy how many business tools can you say that about.
    With all the information available for sales, internal resources and the contacts along with email integration the decision to use this service was an easy one.
    We did not have to download any software and it is very easy to use and customize your workspaces.

  39. RP's Gravatar Comment by RP on January 6th, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Since I am a content creator, I guess I really do find Social Text interesting. Here are another 5 interesting tools that I did a review on –

  40. Jamie's Gravatar Comment by Jamie on January 27th, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Hey cool list. don’t forget about online collaboration app

  41. Nathan's Gravatar Comment by Nathan on February 9th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I think there is a similar site called but it’s alot more powerful with its web-based application platform and it’s completely free as well.

  42. Aron's Gravatar Comment by Aron on February 17th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I think that Project management software should be available in this list .

  43. Tim Joiner's Gravatar Comment by Tim Joiner on February 25th, 2011 at 7:14 am

    I would recommend anyone thinking of using a collaborative web tool to take a look at the one I’ve been successfully using called Dooster.

  44. Kathleen's Gravatar Comment by Kathleen on March 21st, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I would suggest using Editme, its a wiki hosting service that helps non-technical users to quickly and easily build editable web sites.

  45. Catherine's Gravatar Comment by Catherine on April 26th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Excellent list of collaboration tools. I recommend taking a look at FeatureSet ( It is the only online collaboration tool that manages the product and service process at all stages of development – from beginning to end.

  46. nathalie's Gravatar Comment by nathalie on November 15th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I agree with Catherine. What an excellent list of collaboration tools. I’m also pleased to see someone else, Tim Joiner in this case, using Dooster because we use Dooster and can hardly believe what an improvement it has made to our performance. Even though our sales seem to have improved consistently since we got it, what cannot be overlooked is the improvement in office relations since we got it. Communication has improved a lot. Even though there are a ton of apps out there and all very good and similar I’m still really impressed with Dooster.

  47. Rob Palmer's Gravatar Comment by Rob Palmer on April 26th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    We’ve tried a few of the free trials on this list and had researched all the other ones. In theory collaboration can pay big dividends in terms of increased employee productivity; however, an important point missing here is that these tools need to be adopted in order to be useful. It needs to be easy. As easy as Facebook, but professional and private. We use Centroy ( which gives us a super simple interface, and also allows us to brand it like it’s our own. This gives us incredible credibility with our clients. In fact, we’ve shifted from using Centroy as an Intranet to now mostly extranet for customer collaboration. We keep it simple. Use wikis, file sharing, and basic task management features. Our clients no longer wait for email. It’s not complicated when you implement a simple strategy. Better communication = higher customer sat = increased retention.

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