Collaborating with one another online is pretty much a prerequisite these days for small businesses, large enterprises and the humble college assignment group. Ease of use, secure file storage and the ability to work remotely in our underwear being big advantages.
Most people’s first port of call would be Google Drive. Everyone is familiar with the company, it’s free and has years of great development behind it. Yet every few weeks a new kid shows up on the block promising better security, easier usage and a more successful business as a result.
Soonr stands right in the face of the likes of Dropbox (and even alludes to the company in their promo video) and says “I’m so much better than you”. But are they just another entrant to the screaming competition that has been going on since cloud computing became layman’s speak a few years back? What can they offer me in return for both my hard earned cash, and my abandonment of my beloved Google Drive?
Initially, it’s apparent that Soonr is geared much more towards small to medium size enterprise than home users, despite home users being a market segment they’re interested in. The website itself is far more professional than that of Drive or Dropbox and explicitly promises greater security.
Once you sign up for a free two week trial your profile will appear. From here you can edit your personal and company information as well as access all of your files. This structure of members and connections, in my opinion, is what sets Soonr apart from Drive when it comes to collaboration.
Members are employees who work for your business and will obviously have access to the company’s Soonr account. Pretty standard stuff. Connections however, are people and companies who interact with you but are not part of your organisation and as such don’t have access to your account. This enables clients and freelance contractors to have access to one project folder or file only. While it is possible to do similar things with Drive and Dropbox, the way in which Soonr have structured this is far more professional when working on large projects in big organisations than simply sharing a Google doc with someone.
Members and connections can comment on documents, edit hem, share them as well as access basic file options such as ‘Download as PDF’. Public links can also be created allowing anyone (even those that don’t user Soonr) access to the document or folder.
As is pretty much standard across all cloud collaboration set-ups, Soonr has a PC application which will create a folder on your desktop. It syncs well with the online account behaving nicely with different project groupings, members and connection’s permissions. Nevertheless it isn’t an essential component as you can upload from any machine connected to the Internet using the web app. The desktop app also allows you to back up your files and get an overview of your basic account information and user statistics.
Soonrs good layout is what impressed me the most. Dropbox and Drive take a conventional view of thing; organising files no different to windows explorer. Soonr’s projects keep files organised in such a way which would reflect the work-flow of the staff needing them. It also allows for everyone with permission to access a single project to all see the same view of the documents, as opposed to multiple files from different projects sprawling over one-another. This organisation is almost entirely automated as opposed to the manual organisation required with alternatives. Work within a project stays right there and is only visible from there.
The dashboard is the individuals view of Soonr. It provides favourite documents from all their work projects as well as an overview of their profiles, disk usage and team. From here it’s easy to manage your team members and their permissions. You can also administer your account setting and see what devices you currently have Soonr installed on.
Soonr allow users to access their profiles and files on a whole range of devices from popular smartphones such as Android and iPhones to the office favourite, the Blackberry.
The ‘Team’ tab allows you to better see what your team have been working on and how they have been interacting with Soonr. For example, a quick scroll down the list shows their disk usages as well as their last log-in time. Anyone with admin permissions can also view everything that person is working on and who with, as well as who they’ve allowed to access project folders.
Each user will also have a unique email address for each project (displayed at the bottom of each project page) which they can email files to as a quick and easy way to upload. Although not exactly groundbreaking stuff, it’s a basic feature often overlooked by other collaboration apps which saves time and allows for easy remote working.
Soonrs good looks definitely compliment the intuitive layout without getting in the way. They have steered clear from minimalism with nice, flush charts and graphics. File icons and buttons all look good and the colour scheme of royal blue screams professionalism to any visiting connections (clients, partners etc…).
The big question is ‘why should I switch?’. And for the average home user I cannot reccomend Soonr. This is through no fault of the app itself, merely that there are more mainstream choices for free such as Drive. However, for small and medium sized companies (particularly professional services firms) I recommend Soonr. It’s built with business in mind and definitely caters well to the sector. The pricing of around €70 per month for small firms of ten people may seem steep at first, but the added productivity will undoubtedly save later. What’s more, you get 100GB storage so other back-up facilities and file sharing plans currently in use can be retired.
Pricing is extremely flexible so you can change your plan constantly based on that months needs. Again, this suits small firms which can micro-manage their storage needs.
Overall, if you own a small or medium sized company that needs professional grade collaboration software I strongly recommend Soonr for your employees.