When it comes to online solutions for the many problems and daunting tasks faced when running a business, a lot of app developers seem to be under the impression that your business can afford to invest hundreds in these apps. Unfortunately, for many small business starting out, the funds just aren’t there.
That’s where TeamLab comes in. It’s a promising (and completely free) change from the many apps available out there that charge extortionate amounts and only provide some basic functionality. Like what you hear? Read on to find out how to get started with the app and kickstart your business’ online portal.
TeamLab is an all-in-one solution to the needs of just about any business that deals with multiple employees and projects, providing a useful online environment for many tasks to be performed. It offers various features that can be enabled and disabled at will, each specially crafted to make the maximum impact the smooth running of your business.
Once an account has been created, you will immediately be able to get started using the app. The first real step to using TeamLab’s vast array of features is the process of adding employees. They make this extremely simple by offering multiple methods of inviting the employees to use the system. This can be done either by importing them from the contacts list of your email account, uploading a file or adding these manually.
Once selected, you are able to choose whether you’d like to invite them to use TeamLab or simply add them to the system automatically. When the step is complete, they will be able to join your team and take full advantage of the various features that the app has to offer.
Controlling the Lab
One of the most valuable advantages of using TeamLab over any other similar product is the sheer amount of control given over a portal. Administrators are able to choose which individual modules they would like enabled in the portal, meaning that users won’t be confused when attempting to use modules in the app that nobody else is using. Branding can also be managed from the same section, allowing your company’s logo and name to replace that of the default, reinforcing your company’s image and just maintaining that extra bit of professionalism.
Also in the administration panel is the option to allow a trusted domain for registration emails. This means that should you decide to allow open registration on your portal, only users with valid email addresses that are hosted on your company domain will be approved an account. This feature is incredibly useful as a means of keeping your business’ sensitive data away from prying eyes.
One particular area where TeamLab excels is its “community” section. Contained within it are various tools that, combined, make a feature-rich content hub for the more informal aspects of the portal. Packed with a blog, wiki, forum and many other communication tools, it can be a great way of encouraging discussion within the organisation and giving each employee an equal voice. Most of these features are self-explanatory simply because each of the sections is, altogether, a stripped-down version of some of the full-blown applications (for example, WordPress for blogging, Vanilla for forums) with just the necessary features left in.
As if there weren’t enough features already, TeamLab also allows project management to be completed right within the TeamLab environment itself. Once a project is added, team members can be assigned to that specific project so they will be able to track the progress and check any outstanding tasks. Projects also support milestones to track major development, ensuring that task management is made especially more useful as tasks can be assigned to an individual milestone.
TeamLab’s documents feature supports several popular document hosts, allowing files to easily be imported without the hassle of manually transferring each file. Once added, files can then be edited inside the browser (with the quick installation of an additional plugin), assigned to specific users to ensure that they can locate the required files quickly and also, TeamLab lets you easily organise files inside folders and add certain ones to your favourites to again ensure quick retrieval.
TeamLab comes complete with its very own chat feature. This, as you would imagine simply from the name, allows colleagues to converse from right inside the web browser itself but there’s a bit more to it than just that. The chat feature allows files to be sent directly to another user, as well as offering an array of features that would have previously been native to desktop clients.
This is one of the features that isn’t usually included in similar web apps, even the more expensive ones. To top it all off, they don’t even require that you use the browser-based client as the TeamLab chat server is completely compatible with any desktop instant messaging client that supports the Jabber/XMPP protocol.
One final thing I’d like to mention is that although the TeamLab app is offered as a hosted solution in the cloud, the entire source code is released freely for system administrators to host on their own servers. This ensures even more control over all aspects of the code and once again reinforces the fact that there are no boundaries whatsoever when using TeamLab.
TeamLab just ticks all the boxes for me. For web apps, most either target one specific problem and then provide an easier solution to that or they provide solutions to lots of common problems and bundle them together to make an all-in-one solution. However, the latter usually leads to an overblown app that puts users off for the simple fact that they know they’re never going to use half of the features and it’s easier to invest their time in a single app for each of the jobs they need doing.
This is where TeamLab is an exception. It takes everything it believes you would require to run a company hub and provides these without once seeming too cluttered. Even if a feature is there that you’d rather not be, it’s made incredibly simple to disable it, meaning less frustration and confusion for all parties. I was incredibly impressed with the sheer quality of the app, so hats off to the developers!