There are easily a hundred offerings in the area of collaboration software that promise to get your team working together in a communication program that preserves a searchable record of all their work. If your company currently utilizes Atlassian’s Jira issue-tracking software, you might want to investigate using Confluence as your virtual office huddle room. Confluence is a service that allows team members to collaborate as a group by discussing tasks, recording decisions, commenting on documents, and so on. Confluence provides context and history about the projects at hand as well as the team as a whole when new team members join. Atlassian created both Confluence and Jira, so they’re built to function together.
To round off a trinity of workplace collaboration tools, the business also produces HipChat, an Editors’ Choice team chat software. Confluence is a terrific compliment to other Atlassian services if you currently use them, especially for larger enterprises. Editors’ Choice Podio ($9.00 at Software Advice) is a more flexible, customizable solution that scales well with a business as it evolves. Small to mid-size firms, especially those who don’t need Jira for their job, may prefer it.
Plans and Pricing:
The cost of Atlassian Confluence varies greatly depending on the number of users and features you select. For ten users, the core solution, which includes Jira integration, costs $10 per month. The fee increases to $50 per month for 15 users, and to $100 per month for 25 users. It only gets better from there. Note that these are Atlassian-hosted pricing; if you host Confluence on your own servers, the price will be different (except for teams of 10 people or fewer, in which case the prices are the same). A team of 25 people, for example, will spend $1,200 for a perpetual self-hosting license.
Confluence Team Calendars and Confluence Questions are two add-on options. Team Calendars adds a central calendar for project and event planning, as well as keeping track of who’s taking time off and when. Jira users can see dates for releases, sprints, and other events on this calendar. Confluence Team Calendar also provides Google Calendar, Outlook, and iCal interface options. A group of 15 should expect to pay $75 per month for Confluence plus Team Calendars.
The other add-on, Confluence Questions, allows teams to ask, vote on, and answer questions collaboratively. As users contribute content, the Questions section is intended to grow into a knowledge-sharing area. All of the content, like the rest of the team’s communication in Confluence, becomes searchable, and there’s a game element in which people earn points for posting and demonstrating their expertise. Confluence and Confluence Questions for 15 users costs $75 per month, and if you add Team Calendars to the mix, you’ll pay $100 per month. However, keep in mind that the total cost varies significantly depending on the number of users.
The Collaboration Style of Confluence:
Confluence is easy to set up and use, and you can connect it to Google Apps, which is a huge benefit for many businesses. Anyone can try the service for two weeks without having to put down a credit card, though two weeks isn’t much of a trial period. Other collaboration solutions allow you to sample a program for an infinite amount of time for free, but with restrictions on the number of people or data you may upload.
I enjoy how everyone who joins the Confluence team is asked to upload a profile photo right away. It’s a minor point, but it helps to prevent people from forgetting to post their profile photo since they never got around to it.
You’ll notice an option to install HipChat, Atlassian’s team chat tool, when you create an account to sample Confluence. I really appreciate HipChat, but I was surprised that there wasn’t a way to integrate an existing HipChat account. I only noticed an option to establish a new HipChat account during the trial setup, making it difficult to evaluate Confluence as an existing HipChat user. If you already use Atlassian products and wish to try out Confluence, you should reach out to them.
Design and Usability:
As a team member and administrator, I found Confluence to be simple to navigate and use as I uploaded material and files. However, it lags behind several other workplace and collaboration applications in a few areas.
The shared calendar shows when people have vacations planned as well as work deadlines, and it may all be color coded. I believed the shared calendar to be a vital function, and I find it unusual that it is deemed an add-on for an additional fee. The calendar is simple enough to use, but I had to use military time to get a new appointment set in the afternoon. Confluence inserted “a.m.” to every time I typed 4:00.
In other sections, I was surprised to see that Confluence provides a large text box with numerous formatting options when adding comments. This is somewhat different from the more straightforward commented text boxes I’m used to seeing in other collaboration applications. Confluence appears to be a little out of date, or at the very least out of line with current trends.
Selecting the Most Appropriate Collaboration App for Your Team:
Choosing the proper collaboration tool for your team requires a lot of thought, from assessing team size and future development to determining what might work with your present set of tools. Confluence may make sense for teams utilizing Atlassian’s Jira and HipChat because it’s built to operate with those systems. Google Apps is also supported.
Other companies searching for a more adaptable solution might look into Podio, an Editors’ Choice, which has a marketplace of apps you can use to create exactly the workspace you need.
Atlassian Confluence is a collaborative online workspace that tracks a team’s discussions, decisions, and other activities. It’s simple to link with Jira and works with Google Apps.