Five Simple Ways to Improve Team Collaboration

Alison Groves
Alison Groves / October 1, 2015

Zaps for Team Collaboration

Effective collaboration starts with effective communication. If you want to do great work and deliver it on time, you and your teammates had better be on the same wavelength.

But working with a group of individuals means accommodating different workflows and apps. You may use more than one task management app, or prefer different communication methods, some relying on email apps others on team chat tools. If that's the case, automation between these apps can make your collaborative efforts easier. Here's how nine of our customers use Zapier to make mixed-up workflows work together.

Use Any To-Do App

"We have our Basecamp feed updates go into Wunderlist, so when a client updates their web design project, we are notified in Wunderlist."

Working with others is an exercise in compromise. Along with the decisions the project itself brings, you also need to negotiate which project management tool you'll rely on, and with so many options, that negotiation could deteriorate into an argument, fast.

Zapier helps you solve this sticky part of compromising, by allowing everyone to use the app of their choice. You like using Asana while your teammate prefers Trello? No worries: connect them with Zapier, and you each can employ your favorite app

"We use both Basecamp and Wunderlist," says Tem Balanco, president and CEO of BuildYourSite. "For Basecamp, we have our feed updates go into Wunderlist, so when a client updates their web design project, we are notified in Wunderlist."

Turn a Team Chat App into Command Central

"By surfacing information in an app I utilize most of the day, ​I spend less time corralling reminders and deleting email alerts, and more time on what I'll be presenting at my next meeting."

We all have packed schedules: appointments, meetings, or personal tasks tie up our time. Rather than manually letting your teammates know about each commitment, use Zapier to automatically post upcoming events to your team communication app such as Slack or Yammer. Do so and you'll never again have to answer questions like, "Hey, is Alex around right now?"

"We have a roster of staff on our support inbox at any one time, which we plan out in a Google Sheets spreadsheet, and create an event for every hour of the day with the details of who's rostered on," says Joel Labes, chief details officer of Education Perfect. "From there, Zapier puts a message in a Slack channel just before the new hour so that everyone knows what's going on."

Brian Alenduff, who handles customer experience for apparel company Everlane, takes advantage of the power that comes from auto-sharing calendar events, too.

"By bringing meeting and shift reminders into our main Slack channel, folks don't have to worry about who is attending, what link to click, or when to click it," he says. "​They see the information they need to see, when they need to see it, which is exceedingly important for a team that is mainly composed of remote workers.

"From a manager's perspective, having each meeting or shift generate a Slack alert makes it much easier to supervise multiple processes with overlapping calendars. By surfacing information in an app I utilize most of the day, ​I spend less time corralling reminders and deleting email alerts, and more time on what I'll be presenting at my next meeting."

As you can see, shift support is a popular way to communicate with your team in a chat app (we even do it here at Zapier). Natalie Hartkopf, head of support for Remind keeps her team together in a similar way.

"We do a version of All Hands Support at Remind where each team member spends 1 hour each week on live chat talking with teachers," she says. "We use automation to manage the calendar of team member's time slots and then alert them in our Support Slack channel 30 minutes before the session starts.

"It's been incredibly helpful for the team and helps us know who we should be supporting as well."

Make Any Email Actionable

"Funneling all my tasks into one system definitely helps me stay more on top of things, which makes me feel like a more responsive teammate."

Think about the state of your inbox at this moment. How many emails are just sitting there, waiting for you to take action on them? For many teams, email is their number one communication tool, which means someone's probably waiting on us to complete tasks hidden in emails before they can push a project forward.

But don't despair: there's a Zap for that. Star or label an email in Gmail, or forward any email to a special Zapier email address, and those messages instantly become tasks in your favorite to-do app. You'll never have to worry about a task getting lost in your inbox again.

Eileen Ruberto, Zapier's user experience researcher, uses the "New Starred Email" Trigger for Gmail on Zapier to not only help organize herself, but help her stay on task when it comes to working with the rest of us.

"I used to find myself manually creating tasks from emails that had action items for me to complete," she says. "Using a Gmail to Wunderlist Zap just speeds up the process and keeps me from having to go back and forth between my email and task manager, or manually copy and pasting info from one place to another.

"Funneling all my tasks into one system definitely helps me stay more on top of things, which makes me feel like a more responsive teammate."

Coordinate Team Tasks

"We use Zapier to send Pivotal Tracker notifications to different HipChat rooms. It really helps our distributed team know what everyone's working on at all times."

When you're on a team long enough, you get comfortable with varying communication patterns—Matt prefers using the chat app, Kerri favors phone calls, Ellen likes when you stop by her desk, and so on. But if you need to collaborate with another department, inducting newcomers into your process can be tough.

Let automation be the bridge between your teams to ensure everyone has the context they need.

"We use Zapier to send Pivotal Tracker notifications to different Hipchat rooms," says Peldi Guilizzoni, founder and CEO of Balsamiq. "It really helps our distributed team know what everyone's working on at all times."

Kieran Ruslan, senior marketing manager for StitcherAds, uses Zapier to keep his development team connected to each other and the rest of the company.

"We have a few reasons for the GitHub to Slack notifications," he says. "The biggest one is knowing when one of us has made a code change and pushed it up to GitHub. When we see that change, we then know that our own code is out of date and we need to sync up with the master repository. The timeliness of this is very valuable because we get a ping as soon as it happens, along with the comments included by the developer who wrote the code. This way we know how important it might be."

Combining Zapier with a team chat app like HipChat and Slack lets departments stay in-the-know about each other's projects, too. One automation sends valuable information into a space where everyone can easily find important information without having to search for it.

"We work with Kubernetes, which is Google's open source orchestration system for containers," says Antony Bursey, a consultant for LiveWyer. "We needed some way to process all of the commits that occur continuously so we created a Zap that integrates GitHub with HipChat. It continuously updates a dedicated chatroom with the commit tags so we can monitor what people are actively working on. It makes keeping up with a bleeding edge open source project much easier."

Share Responsibilities with Anyone

"For us it's become a multi-stage project management app that we use to automate and streamline tasks around suppliers and customers."

E-commerce involves many moving parts—and a lot of different people. Inventory management, order fulfillment, customer support: all require good collaboration among your entire team to ensure full customer satisfaction. But with so many teams involved, it's easy to miscommunicate, which can lead to lost sales.

If you use e-commerce apps to power your online sales, set up automation to optimize collaboration across your organization.

"We use Zapier and Todoist to feed our Shopify order information into a variety of checklists, allowing us to instantly categorize and prioritize inventory needs and customer service issues," says Travis Sapolin of New York Glass. "With the integration and its drag-and-drop functionality, Todoist extends beyond a simple to-do checklist. For us it's become a multi-stage project management app that we use to automate and streamline tasks around suppliers and customers."

Kat Rudberg of Crafted Taste uses popular project management tool Trello to connect e-commerce sales to teammates working on order fulfillment to keep track.

"Whenever a new order comes in through Shopify, a Zap is triggered to add a new card onto a 'Incoming' board in Trello," she says. "I also have Chargify setup to trigger a new card on this board whenever I get a new subscription. This way, I can see everything coming that day, move the card to the correct workflow board, add any special notes, and have a really easy visual on where we're at with unfilled orders."


28 Trello Tips

Think about the versatility of a Post-it Note—you can do anything with them! Jot down a quick list, write color-coded reminders, then stick them on your fridge or monitor or whiteboard to make sure you remember. Now imagine if you could create those lists and reminders virtually. That's the power of Trello, a tool to organize anything and collaborate with your team.

While Trello on its own is extremely powerful, adding automation to Trello means your tasks, lists, and project boards gain the support of more than 500 complementary apps that are connected to Zapier. Those virtual Post-it Notes—called cards in Trello—can be created from a variety sources: emails, other to-do apps, or even your team chat app. Or, create a card and have it send data into a different app, such as Google Calendar or Smartsheet

To help you get started, we compiled a list of 28 ways to use Trello to maximize your work. Even if you're already a Trello user, you're sure to find a new ideas to enhance your workflow even deeper.

Get 28 Trello Tips


New Zapier Apps, Triggers and Actions

During September, we welcomed 10 apps to Zapier, including apps for video conferencing, team chat, and task management. We also made notable updates to our integrations for Chargebee, Thankster, Mailjet, and Intercom.

Chatwork

Speaking of team collaboration, Chatwork brings text chat, video chat, file sharing, and task management all in one app. When you join all of those capabilities your email, project management, meetings, and development issues via Zapier, you create a central hub for collaboration.

See our Chatwork integration for available Actions.

Solid

Meetings are a normal part of our day, but the amount of work that goes into them before, during, and after can take a considerable amount of time. Solid assists in all facets of meetings, from agenda prep to the individual tasks that are spawned from meetings. With a little automation help, you can get tasks into other to-do apps, or send messages to teammates when meetings have ended.

See our Solid integration for available Triggers.

Runrun.it

Our focus this month has been all about team collaboration, and Runrun.it is right at home there. Set up teams for projects, keep tasks in line and prioritized, and use automated tools to measure productivity and keep things on budget. When it comes to working with your team, having all tasks on a single dashboard gives the best visibility into all of your projects.

See our Runrun.it integration for available Triggers and Actions.

Float

Time is a very limited resource, and managing that across a group of people is not an easy task. Float puts the tools in your hands to find team members with specific skills, know who's available and for how long, and see time and billable hours at a glance.

See our Float integration for available Triggers and Actions.

Zoom

As our work becomes globalized, our need for virtual meeting and knowledge sharing spaces increases. Zoom offers tools for both meetings and webinars with HD video, voice, and screen sharing, all in a secure environment. Keep on top of meeting events with email, tasks, and team chat notification all from Zapier.

See our Zoom integration for available Triggers and Actions.

Envoy

Welcoming people to your office is an opportunity to make a great first impression that's easy to miss. When someone comes by for a meeting, it's a chance to capture information about them and give them the best experience possible. Envoy provides a way to have your guests digitally sign in, take a photograph, and print out visitor badges. It even lets your employees know—via a notification on their phones—that there's a guest waiting to see them.

See our Envoy integration for available Triggers and Actions.

Nicereply

Feedback helps businesses flourish. But it's one area that many of us neglect since it takes too much time to gather feedback. Nicereply offers a suite of tools that help you acquire customer satisfaction data, fine information on how you could improve, and update your Net Promoter Scores.

See our Nicereply integration for available Triggers and Actions.

Repsly

When you have sales reps working in the field, staying on the same page with their activity may be a bit difficult. Repsly helps anyone keep track of field activity, capture custom data, and collect signatures on the fly. Connecting that data to other apps you use keeps the entire team together, and ensures you're communicating well on all activity.

See our Repsly integration for available Triggers and Actions.

Bullhorn CRM

Relationships are the cornerstone of any business. But maintaining them takes a lot of work. With a CRM like Bullhorn, you get what you've come to expect with contact management, plus data to manage leads and revenue, and email tracking to keep up with your communications.

See our Bullhorn CRM integration for available Triggers and actions.

Teamgate CRM

Managing leads and sales can be frustrating, especially when trying to close deals successfully. Teamgate CRM helps you organize and manage your information with a kanban-style layout, giving you more time to work on winning and closing deals.

See our Teamgate CRM integration for available Triggers and Actions.

App Updates

New Instant Triggers for Chargebee

Not only did Chargebee add four new triggers to their Zapier integration, but all triggers will also now run instantly. With instant capabilities, your Zaps will trigger as soon as something happens, instead of waiting 5 to 15 minutes for that Zap to kick off.

The four new triggers include subscription change, subscription cancelled, subscription activated, and failed charge.

See our Chargebee integration for all available Triggers and Actions.

New Action for Thankster

Thankster can help you send handwritten notes to customers or colleagues without you needing to lift a finger. This month they added a new action to their integration, so now you can add contacts to your Thankster account automatically from apps like CRMs or email marketing platforms.

See our Thankster integration for available Actions.

New Email Marketing Triggers and Actions for Mailjet

Email marketing platform Mailjet added both new triggers and actions to their existing integration. You can trigger whenever a new contact subscribes or unsubscribes from your lists, and then you can use Zapier to unsubscribe contacts, or send them an HTML or plain text email. That'll help you get the most out of your email marketing automatically.

See our Mailjet integration for all available Triggers and Actions.

New Instant Trigger for Intercom

Intercom has been integrated with Zapier for quite some time, but a brand new instant Trigger was recently added for new contacts. When a new contact is created in Intercom, you can connect them to your email marketing platforms, CRMs, survey apps and more.

See our Intercom integration for all available Triggers and Actions.


A Look Inside Zapier

Tony Rule

Last month we welcomed Tony Rule to Zapier. He'll be helping us onboard new apps to our developer platform. We want you to have success with any new integration that comes to Zapier, and Tony plays a huge part in making that happen.

Want to join Tony and the rest of the remote team at Zapier? We're hiring!


Go back in time! Read our August edition of the Zapier Monthly: "Six Ways to Find the Best Apps For Your Work".

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“Zapier helps me build processes and automation into my business like a programmer without having to learn to code.”

Lawrence Watkins, co-founder of Great Black Speakers

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