7 Best online team collaboration tools and software for small businesses With remote working on the rise, we pick out seven of the best collaboration tools for business to help your team work better together online. Helena Young September 15, 2021 12 min read Our experts We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was authored by: Helena Young Writer 0 out of 0 backward forward Software Best for Price per user: When billed annually Free trial? Rating (/5) VerdictBEST OVERALL BEST FREE TIER monday.comClickUpWrikeAsanaProofhubTrelloSlackCreative toolsFreemium versionProgress trackingReal-time collaborationDocument sharingA gentle learning curveCommunication£7 (per seat)£3.62£7.10£9.49£64.74 (flat rate)£7.24£184.108.40.2064.043.83.8Monday.com is an innovative platform that’s best-suited for teams in creative industries, and it has some top value plans and deals, too.Generous features list makes ClickUp great for budget-conscious teams with any size team, and there's a great free tier, too.Affordable option that's perfect for SMEs of any size that want to focus on project trackingGood for larger teams with high-pressure deadlines, Asana is a tool that can keep you organised and up to date.Simple core features and a visual focus on proofreading make Proofhub an excellent solution for file collaboration.Trello is best for small firms with fewer than ten employees that are new to team-working technologySlack is best for companies that are working remotely, and need to be able to contact each other quickly and easily We think the top choice for team collaboration software is Monday.com. It is packed with great features and an attractive interface to make your team working simple and easily customisable. Hot on its heels for team collaboration is Clickup, a powerful tool that's remarkably easy to use and even has a great free plan for small teams.But there might be other areas of digital collaboration that your firm is looking to prioritise, such as affordability or file sharing. Read on to learn more about the 7 best online collaboration software brands on the market. As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. Whether it’s online or in-person, in meetings or during the review process, working together enables more innovative ideas, helping businesses to achieve their goals more effectively.That’s why collaboration tools are such an effective way to boost productivity and enable success in the workplace. Particularly post-Covid, as the culture of hybrid working becomes normalised, collaborative software has gone from a nice-to-have, to an essential part of your business strategy.So what makes a good collaboration tool? Should you try a freemium platform, like ClickUp?We’ve been working with startups for over two decades and we know that researching the right collaboration tool for your business takes time.That’s why we’ve done the work for you, by picking out what we think are the best options based on seven key considerations, including saving on budget, messaging tools, and ease of learning. These can make all the difference when it comes to defining the best collaboration tool for small businesses. This article will cover: Monday.com ClickUp Wrike Asana Proofhub Trello Slack How did we choose the 6 best digital collaboration tools? What are some other good collaboration tools for small businesses? How do our top 6 team collaboration tools' prices compare? Final review According to a recent report by Fierce inc., 85% of workers think that the primary reason their projects fail is lack of collaboration and poor communication. Monday.comBest for: Creative tools 4.3 out of 5 Ease of use 4.5 Features 4.5 Integrations 4 Visit Because Monday.com is chiefly a project management tool, it puts equal emphasis on communication and planning. That makes it an unparalleled resource for project-led companies, in industries like design or marketing. Its traffic-light structure means you can track where your team members are up to at a glance – also handy for communicating project progress using reports and dashboards. For a full breakdown, read our Monday.com review for small businesses. Aaron Rudman-Hawkins is managing director of The Evergreen Agency, a digital marketing agency. Rudman-Hawkins said: “As an SEO agency that is growing rapidly we needed a team collaboration tool that was easy-to-use, intuitive to pick up and, crucially for us, visually appealing. Monday.com ticks all of those boxes. We feel for the value we get from Monday.com, the time saved, the intuitive nature of how it works – it is a no-brainer. I would encourage any business out there that needs to streamline their processes to take the time to look into the tool.” Is it right for my business?We think Monday.com’s feature list works best for creative industries and businesses with unique client needs. The platform’s generous inventory of tools is excellent for customisation, and designed to give a first-class visual on projects so that coworkers can easily understand each other’s tasks. This includes Kanban boards and Gantt charts which can be used with real-time collaboration – great for brainstorming sessions.Custom fieldsInstant messaging200+ dashboard templatesCloud-based file sharingCustom appsUnlimited usersKanban boardsGantt chartsTimelinesPricingMonday.com has a distinctive payment structure that is based on a set number of seats, which could be a pain point for teams with fluctuating sizes.In terms of a freemium option, you can either trial its Pro plan for 14 days, or download the Individual free plan. However, unlike rival software ClickUp, Monday.com is only suitable for single users or teams of two.For more information, read our Monday.com pricing guide. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Price Per Month (billed monthly) Paying monthly is usually the more expensive option Users The total number of users for this plan level Free Trial Monday.com IndividualMonday.com BasicMonday.com StandardMonday.com ProMonday.com EnterpriseFree£7 seat/month£9 seat/month£14 seat/monthContact salesFree£12 seat/month£27 seat/month£42 seat/monthContact salesUp to 2Minimum of 3UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedCompare Monday.com deals Compare VerdictIt's not strictly a collaboration tool, but an attractive interface and admirable customisation capabilities mean Monday.com is an excellent choice for collaborative teams working in client-facing industries like design or marketing. ClickUpBest for: Freemium plan 4.3 out of 5 Ease of use 4.5 Features 5 Integrations 3.5 Visit Cost is one of the most important considerations for SMEs. That’s why ClickUp, a relatively new project management platform, has already made a name for itself due to a generous list of features and budget-friendly pricing plan. It is structured using a company hierarchy, meaning different departments can work alongside each other virtually without stepping on each other’s toes.Collaboration is a key part of ClickUp’s design. When someone else is editing, you can see their live cursor, as well as who else is viewing a task. ClickUp also allows you to add comments to specific tasks and share files like videos and images, which are stored alongside your projects to help keep your team working smoothly.Is it right for my business?If you’re looking for the best free collaboration tool, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more bountiful feature list than ClickUp. Its free plan includes:Custom viewsMultiple assigneesGoalsMind mapsDashboardsGantt chartsReal-time collaborationEmail100+ integrationsProofingCloud-based file sharingThere are drawbacks to this low cost, however, with the majority of ClickUp’s features having monthly limits. It also only allows 5 spaces for your business (which essentially represent a project).At only £3.62, ClickUp Unlimited is the platform’s lowest paid-for tier and withdraws most of these restrictions, making it a good upgrade option for those wanting a long-term solution.PricingClickUp’s free tier might be its biggest USP but its higher-tiered payment plans are similarly low-cost and high-value. For more information, read our ClickUp pricing guide. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Price Per Month (billed monthly) Paying monthly is usually the more expensive option Users The total number of users for this plan level Free Trial ClickUp FreeClickUp UnlimitedClickUp BusinessClickUp EnterpriseFree£3.62 per member£6.51 per memberContact salesFree£6.51 per member£13.74 per memberContact salesUnlimited – but only 5 spacesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedCompare ClickUp deals Compare VerdictBudget-conscious teams will appreciate Clickup’s low cost and generous features list, although freemium users should be aware of the limitations within the plan. If you’re looking to save money as a small business owner, read our guide to find out more about the best free project management software. WrikeBest for: Project progress 4 out of 5 Ease of use 4.5 Features 4 Integrations 3.5 Visit Wrike's simple design makes for a smooth and intuitive user experience, and the platform scored highly in our testing for usability. Its interface is clean, with visuals that focus on relaying information at a glance, making it useful for quickly updating stakeholders and guests on the status of tasks and milestones.Time management is a big concern when it comes to collaborative working, as having multiple assignees to one project can lead to more time spent on admin and quality assurance. Like Asana, Wrike also has excellent real-time collaboration features, including document sharing and editing, and a project message board. This means you're more likely to stick to schedule – saving you both time and money.Is it right for my business?Key collaboration tools included in Wrike's two lowest-tiered payment plans include:Cloud storage integrationCommunity forumKanban boardsSpreadsheetsDashboardsPreset widgetsMilestonesProject message boardGuest AccessTask commentsGantt chartsOne area that Wrike did not score well in during our testing was automations – time-saving triggers that mean certain duties are completed automatically, rather than manually. The platform's automation builder isn't easy to access or use, so a member of your team will likely need to take on a specific administrative role for software upkeep.Wrike pricingAt just £7.20 per user for Wrike Professional, the platform is low-range on the cost spectrum for PM software and will suit most SME budgetary requirements.The app's freemium tier, Wrike Free, is unusually generous for features and also permits an unlimited number of users, meaning that small businesses of any size can work collaboratively for zero charge. Higher tiers require a minimum of 5 users.Want to know more about Wrike pricing? Read our full guide to the platform's deals and discounts. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Users The total number of users for this plan level Free Trial Wrike FreeWrike ProfessionalWrike BusinessWrike EnterpriseFree£7.10 per user£17.96Contact salesUnlimited5 to 2005 to 200UnlimitedCompare Wrike deals Compare VerdictGiven Wrike's clear emphasis on project progress and tracking – Gantt charts, task dependencies and spreadsheets all feature – we recommend it for businesses with more than five employees that work to lots of tight deadlines, such as PR or marketing agencies. AsanaBest for: Real-time collaboration 4 out of 5 Ease of use 3.5 Features 4 Integrations 4.5 Visit Real-time collaboration is important for team working systems, and Asana scores highly for this criterion. As a project management software, it can help teams to improve the organization, tracking, and delegation of projects. Projects can be organised in a variety of different formats including lists, boards, calendars and even gantt charts, which you can use to consolidate your workflow into one easy tracking system.Because it has more sophisticated features than the other tools in this list, Asana does not have a quick onboarding process and new starters might find themselves confused by the software’s huge number of capabilities. Oliver Bradley is client director at Words+Pixels, a tech consultancy firm. Bradley commented: “We recently brought in Asana to support us from a project and account management perspective. So far, it has not only cut back on notification overload and helped teams manage their time more efficiently, but provided perspective and context on how individual tasks ladder up to support the whole team and help them meet their project goals together. As we return to the office two days a week, these boards support cross-team collaboration more efficiently.” Is it right for my business?Asana is an excellent collaboration software solution for small businesses, with unlimited assignees permitted to work on every task. It’s good for Kanban boards, which is an agile project management tool that enables you to visualise workflow and iron out any issues. Its timeline view allows you to coordinate your work more easily using dependencies and milestones, helping you to keep an eye on each other’s objectives. Because of this, it is a great choice for sectors that have a lot of high-pressure deadlines, like financial services.Users can also add automated notifications for immediate team updates. For example, you can automatically get a notification when someone else on your team completes a task.Unlimited commentsUnlimited activity logsUnlimited storage (100MB per file)Unlimited assigneesInboxStatus updatesVideo messaging featureAutomationsCloud-based file sharingPricingAsana has a good freemium tier but, unlike ClickUp, it’s lacking a lot of the core team collaboration tools. SMEs should use it for a free sample of the platform, before committing to Asana Premium. In terms of affordability, it’s a good solution for small businesses at £9.49 per user, per month when billed annually. Compared to the other tools in this list it is also a bit of a splurge, but in our opinion the benefits are worth the added cost. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Price Per Month (billed monthly) Paying monthly is usually the more expensive option Users The total number of users for this plan level Free TrialAsana BasicAsana PremiumAsana BusinessAsana EnterpriseFree£9.49£20.99Contact salesFree£11.59£25.69Contact salesUp to 15UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited VerdictAsana would work well for larger teams of 15+ that are working on a lot of shared tasks and need a good organisational tool to keep the workflow up to date. ProofhubBest for: Document sharing 4 out of 5 Ease of use 4 Price 3.5 Integrations 4.5 Visit Proofhub’s user experience aims for simplicity. It has all the essential features offered by project management tools, but avoids complication by helping teams to collaborate through visual document sharing. You can track project changes with file versioning, and share ideas in threads or direct messages using the group chat feature. Growing teams will also appreciate Proofhub’s flat payment option, which accommodates an unlimited number of users.Less favourably, user reviews have criticised the app for its poor navigation, as its basic design means Proofhub doesn’t have a very intuitive interface.Is it right for my business?Proofhub’s unique selling point is an emphasis on document sharing. Its main features are focussed on feedback and proofreading, which makes it well-suited for teams with a lot of documents that need checks and revisions – for example, those working in coding or accounting.Core features include:Time trackingTask managementGantt chartsProofing and file approvalGroup chatFile sharingCalendarCompany announcementsMultilingual translationPricingProofhub charges its users a flat rate, regardless of the number of team members. Its Essential payment plan is the lowest-tiered option and costs £32.68 with no user limit, meaning it could either be very cheap or very expensive depending on your team size. The other payment option available is Proofhub Ultimate Control, a more advanced plan which costs £64.63 per year.In terms of more budget-friendly options, there is also a free trial available of the Ultimate Control plan. Or, if you’re a non-profit, you can apply for Proofhub’s 40% discount for charity organisations. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Price Per Month (billed monthly) Paying monthly is usually the more expensive option Users The total number of users for this plan level Free TrialProofhub EssentialProofhub Ultimate control£32.68£64.63£36.31£71.89UnlimitedUnlimited VerdictIf your company relies on proofreading during collaboration – whether for coding or copywriting – then Proofhub is the best option for you. Plus, good core features and a flat payment rate make it an attractive tool for growing your business. TrelloBest for: A gentle learning curve 3.8 out of 5 Ease of use 5 Features 3.5 Integrations 3 Visit Describing its product as “a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards”, Trello is another example of a work management software that has become popular for team working. Thanks to its very simple layout that uses ‘cards’ to represent day-to-day tasks, in one glance, Trello can tell your team what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in your company’s workflow. Trello’s setup time is short and the platform itself is very intuitive, making it an excellent option for SMEs that are new to the technology and want a collaborative tool that they can easily master. Rob Flannery is sales and marketing manager at Nutshell Creative Ltd, a creative agency. Flannery said: “Trello is the perfect tool for the planning stages of our marketing activity. We use it as an ideas board to ‘throw’ all our ideas at before they are later refined into a more traditional marketing plan. The intuitive design of the system means we can drag and drop ideas, set up checklists and easily remove those ideas that don’t quite make the ‘cut’. We would certainly recommend Trello.” Is it right for my business?Trello differs from full-featured team collaboration tools as it prioritises stripped-back functionality and accessibility over a long, sophisticated feature list. Because of this, it’s best for small teams of around 10 people, as its performance will suffer the more complicated your project or tasks get.Trello’s Freemium option includes:Unlimited cardsUnlimited membersCloud-based file sharingUnlimited storage (10MB/file)Public board managementIntegrations with 200+ apps including Slack and DropboxAssignee and due datesPricingThere are two different payment plans available from Trello. Small businesses will be most satisfied with the Business Class plan. It costs £9.05 per user when billed monthly, and £7.24 if billed annually.However, most of the features available in this tier are sophisticated project management tools. For simple team working, Trello Free covers all of the essentials. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Price Per Month (billed monthly) Paying monthly is usually the more expensive option Users The total number of users for this plan level Free TrialTrello BasicTrello BusinessTrello EnterpriseFree£7.24 per userContact salesFree£9.05 per userContact salesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited VerdictDesigned to simplify the team working process, Trello is an excellent choice for small firms with fewer than ten employees that are new to team-working technology, offering a basic tool with a gentle learning curve. SlackBest for: Communication 3.8 out of 5 Ease of use 4 Price 4 Integrations 3.5 Visit According to a recent report from Intermedia, 57% of SME owners in the US said they plan to continue increasing remote working options for employees following the coronavirus outbreak. So if you’re working entirely online, how can your company ensure teams can continue to communicate with each other easily?Founded in 2009, Slack is one of the most well-known and trustworthy names in team messaging apps. Like Monday.com, it has admirable customisation tools including colour themes, emojis, clock type, screen formatting, sidebar edits and even different status options for when you don’t want to be disturbed. Claire Creagh is senior digital strategist at Thinking Hat PR, a communications agency. Creagh commented: “Slack cuts down on email, it gives you a channel to chat, share and ask quick fire questions in a ‘virtual’ office environment. I started my role remotely and Slack gave me a more casual way of getting to know my teammates without pestering them on email! Creating different channels for teams or topics keeps things organised, and keeps work out of personal spaces like WhatsApp, we had a good experience linking our Slack with clients to create a private channel for project updates. It’s so much more professional than a WhatsApp group, and a direct line between the client lead and the agency PM.” Is it right for my business?Slack stands out as a messaging tool due to its much simpler layout and scaled-back features list. Slack is focussed purely on communication and consequently, does it very well. It is also channel based, and has 800+ integrations with almost every major work management tool. With the lowest-priced tier, Slack Pro, you get:Access entire message historyUnlimited apps & integrations10 GB storage per memberTwo-factor authentication settingsGroup video calls up to 15 peopleScreen sharingChannel recommendationSlack is not designed for project management or more complex collaboration needs so things like inventory management or file sharing are a no go. Its built-in calling feature is also not well-reviewed, with a lot of users complaining of poor audio quality. That being said, third-party integrations with Zoom or Google Hangouts easily solve this problem.PricingSlack has a few different payment plans. We think Slack Pro works best for small businesses, costing £5.25 per user, per month when billed annually. This gives you an unlimited number of users as well as 10GB of storage per user – more than enough for most SMEs. The Business plan is still affordable but is built for large firms working on an international scale. 0 out of 0 backward forward Price Per Month (billed annually) You can typically save by paying for a year or more in advance Price Per Month (billed monthly) Paying monthly is usually the more expensive option Users The total number of users for this plan level Free TrialSlack ProSlack Business +Slack Enterprise£5.25 per user£9.75 per userContact£6.30 per user£11.70 per userContact salesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited VerdictIt might lack the project management tools available with other software options on this list, but Slack is best for companies that are working remotely, and need a simple messaging tool to be able to contact each other quickly and easily. How did we choose the 7 best digital collaboration tools?As a small business owner, what you want from a collaboration tool depends on a number of factors, such as how new you are to using software, which industry you are based in, and how much you can afford to spend.Our experts have been working with collaboration tools for over twenty years. In that time we’ve learnt the most common pain points for operations managers when it comes to team working.With these in mind, we came up with a list of metrics that meet the needs, and ways of working, of today’s SMEs. Then, we picked out the best online digital collaboration tools based on these seven specific requirements:Creative toolsReal-time collaborationFreemium optionDocument sharingA gentle learning curveCommunicationTracking project progress What’s the difference between project management software and collaboration tools?Project management (PM) software and team collaboration (TC) tools share many similarities, so it’s easy to get confused about how they are different.Put simply, the main contrast between the two is that good collaboration is an effective method for successful project management.That’s why many of the software options featured in this list are also PM platforms, as planning, coordinating and managing projects is often dependent on having good team collaboration.If you’re interested in learning more about PM tools, read our guide to the best project management software for small businesses. What are some other good collaboration tools for small businesses?Of course, it’s always a good idea to check out the other options available when it comes to purchasing software. Here are some of the ‘best of the rest’ – the most popular collaboration tool that didn’t make our list. MeisterTaskPrice per user, billed annually£8.25What's good about it?Meistertask is focussed on task management. Its most unique selling point is that it uses Kanban-style project boards to organise teams, giving you excellent flexibility and keeping the workforce closely aligned. WrikePrice per user, billed annually£7.11What's good about it?As a powerful work management platform, Wrike creates a digital workspace for teams to organize and store everything you need in the cloud. It serves as a great tool to share updates and cut down on emails. FlockPrice per user, billed annually£3.28What's good about it?Flock has a generous features list and well-designed messaging tools, making it an outstanding solution for communication and collaboration - at a competitive price. How do our top 7 team collaboration tools prices' compare?Unsurprisingly, ClickUp ranked as the cheapest tool for businesses at just £3.62 per user, and that’s discounting the platform’s impressive freemium offering. Monday.com also scored well for affordability at just £7 per seat.Asana is the most expensive tool at £9.59 per user, per month – reflective of its more sophisticated capabilities.It should be noted that Proofhub’s unique billing cycle is for the entire app, rather than per user. Because of this, we’ve judged its monthly cost per user based on a team of five. Final reviewFor the best all-round collaboration software, we recommend Monday.com. It scores highest on our three general metrics: ease-of-use, price, and integrations, and provides users with an attractive interface that can be easily understood and edited by coworkers. Read our expert guide to learn more about Monday.com’s pricing and plans.For the best creative tools, choose Monday.comEvery one of Monday.com’s features is geared towards team working, with a focus on easy-to-understand, visual feedback on project progress. Its customisable tools are also great for creative reporting and dashboards.For the best freemium option, choose ClickUpClickUp’s paid-for plans are a generous option for small businesses but it’s the platform’s freemium plan that stands out for those wanting to try out an online collaboration tool without risking their budget.For real time collaboration, choose AsanaAsana is a favourite for collaborative team working thanks to its real-time working capabilities. It works best for businesses with 15+ users that are completing shared tasks or have a lot of high-pressure deadlines, like financial services.For a gentle learning curve, choose TrelloTrello is the best choice for those on the first rung of the team collaboration software ladder looking for a simple, easy-to-use programme.For document sharing, choose ProofhubOne of the key areas of collaboration is file sharing and editing. Proofhub has carved out a space in the market as the expert choice for document management. Plus, its pricing plan is designed for scaling businesses, making it growth-friendly.For the best communication, choose SlackSlack scales back the project management and other, more complex features to concentrate on being a first-class messaging app for those businesses that aren’t office based. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags News and Features Helena Young Writer Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews. She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.