Collaboration is a crucial component of business productivity and a skill that all online MBA students should master to be successful in their studies and careers. With campus-based programs, students work face-to-face, but online MBA candidates will sometimes need to be able to cooperate with team members who may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
Long-distance connectivity mirrors what’s happening in the corporate world where more and more workers are “commuting” from a home office or half a world away.
Apps make long-distance team collaboration possible. Here are 5 topics with a variety of application options that can help online MBA students connect, cooperate, and achieve their goals.
1 – Taking Notes
A – Evernote: A cross-platform app, Evernote lets you save large quantities of news and notes by clipping web articles (excerpts and full text), voice memos, and photos. You can use mobile devices to digitize and organize paper documents, business cards, and handwritten notes. Being able to annotate and share photos speeds up feedback for your network of teammates.
B – Myscript Memo: If you prefer taking notes by pen rather than a keyboard, Myscript Memo lets you use your finger or a stylus on just about any Android, IOS, or PC device. The handwritten notes can then be exported to Gmail, Evernote, or other text files. Myscript Memo’s handwriting recognition engines make it simple to write out mathematical expressions, sheet music, and various shapes for digital diagrams.
C – Google Keep: A synchronized Google application that can add audio, notes, photos, lists, geofencing, and reminders. It is searchable by an easy-to-use color-coded filing system. Optical Character Recognition technology can extract text from images, while voice recordings created through Google Keep are automatically transcribed. Notes can be easily attached to multiple emails for total team collaboration.
2 — Organization
A – Trello: This tool efficiently organizes projects by creating boards for tasks that need to be done. Cards are placed on the boards and assigned to teammates. Due dates can be added and files, photos, and videos can be attached.
B – Doodle: An easy-to-use calendar system that’s convenient for your whole team. Information automatically links to your current operating system. Doodle does away with having to write multiple messages. Instead, it uses polls that allow invited guests to immediately weigh in on topics and to find a convenient meeting time for all.
C – Mint: An app for budgeting that connects checking, savings, and credit card accounts for a thorough display of finances. Users can create budgets, categorize transactions, and receive alerts on spending and approaching payment due dates. The app allows online MBA students working on a project together to track expenditures simultaneously.
D – Any.do: Designed for maximum simplicity, this task-management tool can coordinate meetings in just a few easy steps. It also converts speech directly into text and features time and location-based reminders. A virtual assistant syncs with Google Calendar to alert the user to a continually evolving to-do list. You can even share your calendar with multiple team members so you’re all on the same page.
3 — Research
A – Feedly: A fully customizable compilation of your favorite news feeds via online sources. Content is strategically gathered and arranged in an appealing blog-like display. Feedly is also capable of plugging in Google Alerts, making monitoring of news and collections of feeds easier than ever. Because Feedly is a private content-management system, you can share secure content through internal channels without worry.
B – Mendeley: This one-stop shop for research can assist in collecting, organizing, and sharing data from more than 30 million online databases. Mendeley has its own social media network that makes it easy to follow inspirational leaders to find out what’s new. Online MBA students can connect with mentors they might be interested in learning from or partnering with.
4 – Accessibility
A – Google Docs: An online word processor allowing spreadsheets and slide presentations to be created, edited, and shared by multiple users in real time. Fully integrated with Google Drive, the suite also includes Google Forms, Google Drawings, and Google Fusion Tables allowing teams to efficiently collaborate on several different assignments.
B – Dropbox: A cloud-based file storage, sync, and sharing system capable of accessing photos, videos, documents, and other files anywhere a WiFi signal is present. With industry-leading encrypted security, teams from two to 50,000 members can safely share even the most private information.
C – AirTable: Another cloud-based real-time spreadsheet database, AirTable is fully customizable, allowing you to create documents from scratch, through templates, or by importing spreadsheets from other systems. Both mobile and desktop versions are completely in sync, allowing for instant updates across all devices.
5 – Communicating
A –Google Hangouts: A free broadcasting service (in the U.S. and Canada) capable of displaying video, phone, or text messages in one-on-one or group conversations. A screencast option lets teammates view and edit the same document together while accommodating emojis, photos, GIFs, and maps.
B – Slack: Similar to instant messaging or a group text, Slack lets you communicate with one another by creating topic-based discussion channels that can be searched through a system of hashtags. Public channels are kept open so anyone on a team can see what is going on. Files, photos, and video links can be shared through a simple drag-and-drop system as well. You also can create private channels and send direct messages.
C – Asana: A project-tracking app with almost no learning curve. Asana promotes mass productivity by providing daily workload snapshots that let the whole team know where each member stands on a certain project. When one teammate uploads a document or sends a message through the app, Asana sends an email to notify other members on the project.
It also speeds creativity. Peloton, a New York-based indoor cycling company, found that it could produce hundreds of hours of video twice as fast as it could before implementing Asana because of the app’s progress-tracking tools. Streamlined communication is the key component of Asana because it keeps the entire team in the loop without any one individual directing mass correspondence.
D – CampusGroups: A relationship-building engagement tool allowing Online MBA students to manage events, share secure school-branded communications, analyze and compile attendance analytics, and create forms, surveys, portfolios, and budgets. Everything can be done through a wide range of mobile devices for easy access on the go.
About UAB’s Online MBA Degree Program
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an online MBA program that combines traditional university education with the convenience and flexibility afforded by advanced technology. The program offers four concentrations that reflect growing sectors of the economy – Finance, Health Services, Management Information Systems, and Marketing – as well as a General Track. For more information, visit UAB’s online MBA website.