As we’ve previously discussed on Helpjuice’s blog, effective internal communication is crucial to business success, for many reasons.
We also discussed some of the key types of tools you’ll need to adopt to truly optimize internal communications throughout your organization, such as:
- Knowledge base software
- Wiki software
- Internal forums
- Messaging apps
- Social intranet tools
- Apps for project management
To be sure, there are a number of tools out there offering some combination of the above — and often much more. With so many communications apps to choose from, you need to know which ones will be best for your business.
(In fact, choosing the wrong software can sometimes do more harm than good.)
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top apps you can use to keep team communications front-and-center at all times.
16 Top Team and Employee Communications Apps
Before diving in, a quick reminder:
None of these tools is a silver bullet that will instantly fix all of your team’s communication and collaboration woes.
To actually get the most out of the communications apps of your choosing, you need to first have a solid foundation and strategic plan in place for using them.
That said, check out the following posts to ensure your efforts to improve team communication get off to the right start.
- 14 Effective Ways to Promote Team Collaboration
- Cross-Team Collaboration: 7 Strategies to Improve Team Productivity
- Asynchronous Communications 101: Definition, Benefits & Tips
Knowledge Base Software
Your internal knowledge base is essential to both immediate communications and overall team alignment.
In the immediate sense, your knowledge base content helps teams stay on the same page when discussing certain topics, processes, or initiatives. On the whole, having access to this knowledge means team members will always know the best way to engage with one another for various purposes.
Note: Since we’ve already dug deep into some of the best knowledge base tools around, we’ll only be mentioning one of them here.
You’re not that surprised we chose our own software to talk about, are you?
In all seriousness, Helpjuice has been voted as the #1 knowledge base software since 2011. It’s a comprehensive solution that’s easy to use for beginners — while also providing the advanced features power users need to take their knowledge management efforts to the next level.
Helpjuice offers limitless authoring and formatting, and allows teams to communicate directly within documents via comments, replies, and editing notes. Permission settings ensure content integrity and security, while also keeping it accessible to those who need it most.
Helpjuice integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other instant messaging tools to allow seamless delivery of knowledge content and files.
- All features available at every tier
- Google-like search capabilities
- Templates for quick content creation
- Integrates with dozens of apps directly or via Zapier
- Starter: $120/month for up to 4 users
- Run-Up: $$200/month for up to 16 users
- Premium Limited: $289/month for up to 60 users
- Premium Unlimited: Contact Helpjuice
Team Forum Apps
An internal forum provides infinite opportunities for team members to engage in discussion around…well, whatever topic comes to mind.
On these forums, your teams can talk about trends and best practices — or just shoot the breeze. In either case, the ongoing conversations and engagements will lead to continuous personal and professional growth for all involved.
Learn how to build communities of practice within your organization — digital and otherwise.
phpBB is one of the most popular open-source forum tools available.
phpBB allows teams to create traditional web forums that, while modern in appearance, are likely familiar to even the least tech-savvy among us. This will keep your team focused on the actual discussions at hand — not on learning to use the app.
That said, working knowledge of HTML is needed to go beyond the bare-bones use of phpBB. However, phpBB’s community offers hundreds of user-developed extensions, modifications, and more to help teams with less development experience customize their forums to their liking.
- Internal messaging and file transfers
- Fully customizable to team needs
- Open-source tool is free to use
- Interface is dated by today’s standards
- Learning curve for non-technical users
- phpBB is a free open-source software.
A helpdesk software at its core, LiveAgent can also be used to create forum-like posts based on specific user tickets.
Teams can also create internal forums based on incoming tickets, and for general discussion. Within these forums, team leads can assign roles and permissions to keep specific staff in the loop and to keep discussion focused.
As forum discussions conclude, they can then be archived for later use — or to take the conversation to another level.
- Comprehensive customer support solution
- Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
- Automated workflows and routines
- Some technical glitches reported
- Customer service can be unresponsive
Team forums available at Ticket tier, $15/month per agent
Drupal is an open-source CMS tool that allows teams to create forums via “modules”.
Like phpBB, Drupal’s forums are simple and straightforward out-of-box, but are fully customizable across the board. Also like phpBB, gaining full control of these customization options requires a high level of technical knowledge — or additional investments into various plugins and modifications.
Even at its most basic level, though, Drupal allows for the creation of forums and sub-forums for targeted discussion. Multiple forums can also be grouped into containers based on themes, topics, or other factors — then archived for further knowledge preservation.
- Customizable for developer teams
- Ever-growing ecosystem of plugins and modules
- Secure open-source software
- Technical knowledge required to maximize use
- Requires strict, hands-on data maintenance
- Plugins and modules can be expensive
- Drupal is free for basic use.
Team Messaging Apps
For real-time communication (via text, audio, or video) team messaging apps are a necessity.
Modern messaging apps also make it easy to stay in touch and ensure everyone’s in alignment — even when communicating asynchronously.
Chances are, you’ve heard of Slack.
Since its public release back in 2013, Slack has evolved from a basic team texting app to a comprehensive tool for centralizing communications within an organization. For many teams, all communications run through Slack, either directly or via integrations.
As much as Slack has evolved, text-based communication is still what the tool does best. Channels and message threads keep conversations on-topic without distracting from the overarching discussion. Tagging and private messaging allows individuals and groups to stay in close contact — again, without disrupting the overall flow of conversation.
- Easy to onboard new users
- Flexible for light or power use
- Growing list of seamless integrations and apps
- Difficult to keep chats, rooms, and information organized
- Subpar video conferencing quality
- Free for limited features and stored messages
- Pro: $6.67/month per user
- Business: $12.50/month per user
6. Microsoft Teams
One of the more popular Zoom alternatives, Teams is the audio/video conferencing part of Microsoft’s 365 office suite.
With Microsoft Teams, you can facilitate conference calls, one-on-one meetings, and all in-between from a single dashboard. Individual users can direct message other individuals, groups, or certain members within groups.
Microsoft Teams helps facilitate participation and collaboration via features like:
- Live reactions
- Interactive prompts (e.g., votes, surveys, etc.)
- Breakout rooms
Office 365’s various other tools integrate seamlessly to further optimize communication and delivery of information to stakeholders as needed.
Microsoft Teams Pros
- Simple channel creation and management
- Optimized file-sharing features
- Growing list of integrations
Microsoft Teams Cons
- Too feature-heavy for some teams
- Some slowdowns and other technical glitches reported
Microsoft Teams Pricing
- Free: Meetings of up to 60 minutes and 100 members
- Essential: $4/month per user for meetings up to 24 hours and 300 members
- Business Basic: $6/month per user for unlimited meetings and 1TB storage
Jabber is a comprehensive tool for team communications, offering:
- Text messaging
- Voice message recording
- Audio calling
- Video conferencing
…and, as needed, all of the above.
With Jabber, teams can spark small, individual conversations that can evolve into ongoing, group-wide discussions. Team leads can easily trace important discussions to their origin, then document all essential messages, files, and data exchanged between teammates over time.
- Excellent audio and video quality
- Simple setup and user onboarding
- Optimized for use on mobile and tablet
- Group chat creation and management can be difficult
- Software can cause overall system slowdowns
- Contact Cisco for pricing information.
Webex is an alternative communications app also provided by Cisco.
Like Jabber, Webex also enables communication via text, audio, and video. Unlike Jabber, Webex actually goes a step further when it comes to processing and managing the information being communicated through these various methods.
Most notably, Webex automatically translates communications in any format in real-time. This helps break down the language, geographic, and cultural barriers that have become commonplace for distributed teams.
Administrators and managers can also highlight and call out specific messages or moments directly as discussion is taking place. This, along with interactive meeting prompts and such, allow leaders to keep teams focused on what’s important during meetings and engagements.
- Intuitive user interface and functionality
- Quality of audio and video calls, along with screen shares
- Less resource-heavy than Jabber
- Technical glitches during large meetings common
- Some security concerns when sharing screens or files
- Free for meetings up to 50 minutes, 100 members
- Business: $25/month per user for up to 200 members and 24-hour meetings
A private intranet keeps your team and other stakeholders up to date with everything they need to know about your company.
9. Zoho Connect
Zoho Connect is part of Zoho’s suite of business and marketing tools.
Connect’s social media-like dashboard gives your employees a quick overview of news, events, and other goings-on within your organization. They can then engage directly with this content to acknowledge receipt of messages, add more information, and otherwise maintain team alignment.
With Zoho Connect, team leads can create dedicated groups and boards for focused collaboration — then use gamification to spur conversation and celebrate progress.
Zoho Connect Pros
- Intuitive employee participation tracking
- Flexible team management features
- Integrates with Zoho suite and numerous third-party tools
Zoho Connect Cons
- Sometimes lags during peak usage times
- Problems with chat interface reported
Zoho Connect Pricing
- Enterprise: $.84/month per user
- Ultimate: $2.50/month per user
Jostle is a comprehensive tool for internal communications.
Jostle also offers a social media-like dashboard, complete with quick reactions and commenting functionality. Posts and comment threads can be moved to discussions, where off-the-cuff comments can be fleshed-out into useful and actionable knowledge content.
With Jostle, team leads and other members can quickly surface impactful comments made by their colleagues — and celebrate the individual for their contribution to the discussion. This not only helps facilitate more participation in the immediate sense, but also over the long-term, as well.
- User-friendly interface and navigation
- Flexible for various teams with multiple use cases
- Automated communications and notifications
- Permissions can be too limiting
- Mobile version not optimized
- Varies by user count and tier
WorkVivo is an employee experience app aimed at keeping teams engaged and connected well beyond surface-level interactions.
WorkVivo presents a scrolling activity feed that pushes info and content to specific users based on priority and relevance. This ensures the right people always get the right messages, right when they need to receive them.
One interesting feature of WorkVivo is the ability to create podcast-like audio content directly within your feed. This content — along with other text and multimedia — can then be injected into your team’s newsletters and other internal assets.
- Idea sharing and community building focus
- Intuitive functionality and navigability
- Flexible permissions and privacy settings
- Employee profile forms could provide more info
- Lack of quick-response and reaction features on feed posts
- Contact WorkVivo for pricing information.
Staffbase bills its intranet service as “the intranet for internal communicators”.
Staffbase acts as a comms headquarters where team members can create and publish news and other content for all to see. Roles, permissions, and similar settings automate delivery (and notification of delivery) to appropriate team members and other stakeholders.
Staffbase’s multichannel capabilities are one of the tool’s core selling points. With Staffbase, both on-premise and in-the-field employees can stay in close contact — and can stay current with team progress on all initiatives.
- Easy to create and manage intranet as a whole
- Customizable and flexible for various needs
- Responsive customer support
- Rudimentary instant messaging features
- Employee profile forms limited
- Contact Staffbase for pricing information.
As the name suggests, Simpplr aims to simplify intranet and team communication.
Simpplr’s Live Ex technology brings intranet, communication, and employee engagement together, creating a central hub for all organizational knowledge to flow through. On top of keeping all stakeholders in the know, Simpplr helps facilitate engagement and cultural growth through the delivery of high-quality content and interactive features.
Team leads can use Simpplr to quickly identify issues to be resolved, as well as to measure sentiment amongst their roster. With such close tabs on the flow of information, managers will always be able to head off disaster before it strikes.
- Cross-team communication features
- Intuitive scheduling workflows
- Automated content governance
- Administrative task management not intuitive
- File management can easily become overwhelming
Contact Simpplr for pricing information.
Project Management Apps
Though we’ve also already discussed at length the many project management tools available today like Trello, let’s take a look at some of the alternatives that are best for the purpose of communication.
Basecamp offers the core functions of a project management tool, such as:
- To-do checklists
- Calendar and schedule management
- Group discussions and chats
With Basecamp, teammates can stay in close contact in multiple ways while working on a given project. While group chats allow for real-time communications, messageboards act as temporary forums and sub-forums for async conversations. Users can also upload documents and files, tagging each other as needed to ensure proper receipt.
- Groups and subgroups for focused discussion
- Simple content and file-sharing features
- Scalable pricing model
- Lack of customization options
- Some notification and messaging delays
- Personal: Free with limited features
- Business: $99/month flat fee for all features
monday.com’s project management software is all about breaking down silos to optimize cross-team communication and collaboration.
With monday.com, teams can communicate directly within Kanban-style cards for various purposes. Members can tag each other, comment on progress, or simply acknowledge receipt of messages.
monday.com integrates with Slack and other direct messaging tools, enabling teams to bridge one-off comments into full-length discussions whenever necessary.
- Custom configurations for various use cases
- Extensive visibility for appropriate team members
- User-friendly navigation
- Poor real-time communication features
- Lack of automation for routine processes
- Individual: Free for up to 2 seats
- Basic: $8/month per seat
- Standard: $10/month per seat
- Pro: $16/month per seat
ClickUp is a flexible project management tool that allows teams to create and manage workflows for new initiatives with ease.
ClickUp offers its own direct messaging tool to spur real-time collaboration during planning and implementation of a project. Stakeholders can also visualize project workflows in Kanban, Gantt, and other formats — then work together to determine the best course of action to follow.
- Project plan and progress visualization options
- Cross-team communication features
- Responsive customer support and software development
- Too feature-rich for some teams
- Mobile and tablet interface not optimize
- Free for personal use
- Unlimited: $5/month per user
- Business: $12/month per user
- Business Plus: $19/month per user
Keep Internal Team Communications Centralized With Helpjuice
Adopting the right combination of the above tools will almost certainly lead to improved communication and collaboration for your team.
To get the absolute most out of these tools, though, they need to work together — not in isolation. A continuous and reliable flow of information is necessary before you can take full advantage of the advanced features these tools have to offer.
This is why a knowledge base tool like Helpjuice should be your top priority.
With Helpjuice, your team can begin building a solid foundation of organizational knowledge and information to rely on when communicating with one another. This will keep them aligned as they work on the immediate tasks in front of them — and as they work toward the company’s big picture goals.
Ready to dive in? Get started with a free 14-day trial of Helpjuice!