Top 10 Best Communication Software Comparison (2021)

Monday, October 18, 2021
Sandra Petrova
SHARE:

The days of collaborative work are here. 

As the number of freelance and remote workers grows, managing your business with just email chains and file attachments won't cut it anymore. What businesses need are cloud-based team communication solutions that can help steer the office into the future of work. 

That's what the best communication software tools are built for. To make sure nothing falls through the cracks. To streamline communication. To bring teams closer together. And they're perfectly suited for both remote and growing co-located teams that struggle with clear communication.

Nobody knows the exact number of communication tools that have been created so far, but there's probably an abundance. Each communication tool has something unique to offer, whether instant messaging, voice chat, or task collaboration. Some of the tools nicely integrate chat, video, and phone solutions into one central communication platform. 

Whether you're a distributed team or a growing co-located company, here's a roundup of the 10 best communication software for 2021 that can simplify internal communication and improve workflow.

 

Communication software comparison chart (top 10 highest rated)

Product

Best for

Pricing

URL

Slack

Best communication tool overall

  • $6.67/user/month

  • Free plan available

Visit

Wrike

Project management

  • $9.80/user/month

  • Free plan available

Visit

Discord

Voice chat

  • $9.99/user/month 

  • Free plan available

Visit

Google Chat

Google Workplace users

  • $6/user/month

  • Free if you're a Google Workplace user

Visit

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft 365 users

  • $5.00/user/month

  • Free plan available

Visit

Mattermost

Self-hosting

  • $10/user/month (cloud-hosted

  • $3.25/user/month (self-managed)

  • Free plan available

Visit

Flowdock

Teams on a budget

  • $3/user/month

  • 30-day trial

Visit

Basecamp

Task management

  • $99/month

  • Free plan available

Visit

Workplace by Facebook

Bringing teams together

  • $4/user/month

  • Free plan available

Visit

RingCentral

Call management

  • $19/user/month

Visit

 

 

What is communication software? 

Communication software refers to tools that are used to improve work efficiency. It enables users to quickly share information via text, video or audio formats across different computers and devices. The most common communication systems are chat, video calling, video messaging, web conferencing, email, and VoIP. 

Some types of communication software support asynchronous communication, such as email and chat. Video calling and video conferencing allow for synchronous communication, where all participants communicate in real-time. Video messaging, on the other hand, supports both asynchronous and synchronous communication at the same time. VoIP tools allow users to speak like with a telephone, except with an internet connection.

Let's take the life of a remote IT worker as an example. An IT worker spends the entirety of their working day on a laptop. It's only sensible for the entire back and forth communication with their manager and co-workers to happen through the laptop. They come across an issue, send a quick message to their team leader, get a reply instantly, and get on with their work. If the issue is more complex, they can quickly jump on a video call. With some apps, these conversations are visible for the rest of the team, meaning, everyone can see or participate in relevant conversations, or ignore them if the content is irrelevant to them. 

Some software are standalone, meaning they operate as straightforward video or chat apps. On the other hand, some platforms integrate communication features as part of their functionality, such as CRMs and collaboration software. 

 

What are the different types of communication software? 

Here are some of the most popular types of communication software that you can start using with your team today to improve efficiency: 

  • Slack

  • Wrike

  • Discord

  • Google Chat

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Mattermost

  • Flowdock

  • Basecamp

  • Workplace by Facebook

  • RingCentral

 

What are the best communication software? Here’s our top 10 list:

From video conference and group chats to file sharing and project management, there are many types of team communication software that do a fine job of boosting team productivity and engagement. However, the wide range of options can make choosing the best software for your needs quite challenging. 

We've put together a list of the 10 best communication tools that have a reputation for helping thousands of teams worldwide collaborate and perform more efficiently. Some of them come with solid free plans, while others reserve their more advanced features for the paid plans. 

Read on as we highlight their most notable features and explore their plans.

 

Slack (best communication software overall)

Everyone who's ever worked in a team has heard of Slack. Just as Skype entered the dictionary to define the notion of having a spoken conversation with (someone) over the internet, Slack is on the same path to define engaging in a quick chat

In fact, Slack is so popular that we may call it the king of communication software. There are a few reasons for its widespread popularity. Firstly, it's a highly affordable tool that offers a range of free and paid plans that work for any budget. Secondly, it has an impressive list of features that makes team communication enjoyable, effective, and simple. 

It's so versatile that all kinds of teams can benefit from it, including five-people groups or large enterprises that count 100+ employees. 

That’s why we declare it the best communication software overall.

What Slack does best is it replaces the need for long, back-and-forth email strings that slow down communication. Instead, it allows for real-time group chats, direct messages, and file sharing in a central place. 

On the plus side, it lets you integrate tools of all types and custom apps right into Slack, including Zoom, Google Drive, Zendesk, Gmail, Asana, and more. 

Pricing:

  • You can use Slack with a limited number of features for free.

  • The Standard plan starts at $6.67/user/month, billed annually.

  • The Plus plan starts at $12.50/user/month, billed annually. 

  • The Enterprise Grid plan is great for large businesses. Get in touch with Slack for a custom quote. 

Slack is best for:

  • Team communication.

  • Remote teams.

  • Small businesses and larger companies.

  • Integrations with industry-leading software and apps. 

  • Searchable messages and files. 

  • Startups and enterprises. 

Slack

 

Wrike (effective tool for project management )

Wrike is a well-known project and work management tool aimed at remote and co-located teams. It comes equipped with a range of features that do a fine job of creating full visibility and transparency on projects and tasks. 

Companies big and small use it. So do creative teams, marketing teams, and large enterprises like Airbnb and Adobe. 

Teams across all industries can count on this tool to improve team collaboration, speed up approvals, and handle incoming work requests. 

The system is easy to use. You can easily customize views and elements with the app’s drag-and-drop user-friendly interface. 

The main features of Wrike are the Tasks, Folders, Projects, and Spaces that you use to keep track of and organize your work.

Everyone with an account can gain insight into current and finished projects and collaborate with other team members on a specific project or task. Additional features include subtasks, shared calendars, mentions and comments, file sharing, customized statuses, customizable dashboards and reports, and pre-built templates.

In addition to projects, you can also create folders. Folders can have subfolders. And projects can go into folders, too. Spaces, on the other hand, help organize your folders and projects in your Wrike account.

Best of all, Wrike even has a task timer to help measure productivity. Simply click the play or pause button and track one task at a time.

Pricing:

  • A Free plan for up to 5 users, ideal for smaller teams.

  • The Professional Plan for 5, 10, or 15 users costs $9.80/user/month, billed annually.

  • The Business Plan for 5 to 200 users costs $24.80/user/month, billed annually.

  • The Wrike Enterprise plan for 5 to an unlimited number of users comes at a custom pricing.

Wrike is best for:

  • Remote teams.

  • Co-located teams.

  • Project management.

  • Task collaboration.

  • Time tracking.

  • Ease of use. 

Wrike

 

Discord (best for voice chat)

Discord is a popular and widely known chat tool for gamers. However, thanks to its rich functionality, businesses have begun adopting the platform as their primary communication tool to improve team collaboration. 

There's no surprise that Discord's main feature is its voice chat. After all, that is how gamers communicate while gaming. People can see you’re online and get in touch over a voice message. In addition to voice chat, there's also a video feature that lets you engage in a video meeting and share your screen directly with others. 

Discord has a few of the same features you would find in Slack, such as file sharing and text chat rooms, that give it a functional edge, too. Text chat rooms are divided into topic-based communication channels where you can collaborate on specific topics instead of clogging up a group chat. 

If your needs are more specific, you'll be lucky to hear that Discord's API is free to use so you can easily build all the features you need. 

Pricing

  • A Free plan that is abundant with features and has only a few limitations.

  • The Discord Nitro with 50MB of space, higher quality of screen-sharing, and bigger file upload costs $9.99 per month per user or $99.99 per year per user.

Discord is best for:

  • Team communication.

  • Voice chat.

  • Creating customized features.

  • Affordability. 

Discord

 

Google Chat (top communication app for Google Workplace users)

A few months ago, Google announced the rebranding on its videoconferencing app Hangouts Meet to Google Meet. This announcement was followed by another name change: Hangouts Chat to Google Chat.

Now that we got that name confusion out of the way, let's discuss Google Chat's best features. 

The platform is not a straightforward chat app. Instead, it's more of a team messaging space that helps teams stay connected and work move forward. 

Everyone with an account can send direct messages or engage in group conversations. You can create a channel for any topic to keep work organized and on track. 

One of the most attractive features of Google Chat is its integration with other Google Workplace apps like Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Drive, and Docs. 

There are no video or audio calls features, but as the app nicely integrates with every app in your Workspace account, you automatically have access to Google Meet. You can easily launch a video call from every room. 

Additional features include threaded conversations, filterable search, integration with third-party apps, and bots automation to handle simple tasks. 

Pricing:

  • If you’re a current Google Workspace customer, Chat is free.

  • Business Starter is $6/user/month.

  • Business Standard is $12/user/month.

  • Business Plus is $18/user/month.

  • Enterprise Plan has custom pricing. 

Google Chat is best for:

  • Google Workplace users.

  • Team messaging.

  • Quick collaboration.

  • Integration with third-party apps. 

Google Chat

 

Microsoft Teams (great pick for Microsoft 365 users)

Microsoft Teams is a platform that keeps instant messaging, online meetings, video conferencing, and collaboration at one central place. It can be a great pick for teams that want to instantly go from group chat to video call without jumping from one app to another.

The instant messaging functionality lets you create private rooms and group chats to quickly connect with a teammate. You can use @mentions to call a team member’s attention, make announcements in one or multiple channels simultaneously, and ensure everyone's voice is heard with inline message translation.

If the matter requires face-to-face interaction, you can quickly jump on a video call. Microsoft Teams has excellent video meeting features. You cannot only record your meetings, but the automatic transcription feature lets you play back meetings and quickly find important discussions. 

There are many other features you would expect from a leading video meeting software provider, including live captions, digital whiteboarding, and customized backgrounds. 

Pricing:

  • A Free plan with an unlimited number of 45-minute meetings, with up to 300 meeting participants.

  • The Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan costs $5.00/user/month, paid annually.

  • The Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan costs $12.50/user/month, paid annually.

  • The Office 365 E3 plan costs $20/user/month, paid annually. 

Microsoft Teams is also included with Office 365 business accounts.

Microsoft Teams is best for:

  • Large businesses.

  • Team collaboration.

  • Tight integration with other Microsoft Office apps.

  • Groups already using Microsoft products.

Microsoft Teams

 

Flowdock (good if you're on a budget)

What started as a day-to-day communication tool for developers has grown into a powerful app that's suitable for the needs of many professional groups across all industries.

Flowdock prides itself on its most notable feature which is the Flows, open spaces for team communication and collaboration. You can create a 1:1 Flow and discuss things privately with a team member. Some other good-to-have features include organizing conversations by Threads, color-coding conversations, message tags, bots, 100+ integrations, and file sharing. 

Let's say that you want to add a face to the voice or engage in a more detailed conversation. In that case, you can quickly activate the instant video chat and screen sharing feature through one of Flowdock's integrations called Appear.in. 

Pricing

  • 30-day trial.

  • The Standalone plan with unlimited flows costs $3/user/month. 

  • The Enterprise plan with advanced features is $9/user/month. 

Flowdock is best for:

  • Real-time team chat.

  • Threading for conversation.

  • Unlimited integrations with third-party apps.

  • Video chat and screen sharing.

  • Open API to create the integration your team needs.

Flowdock

 

Mattermost (best self-hosted solution)

Mattermost is an open-source collaboration platform specially built for developers. 

Its privacy and security features are where Mattermost shines and differs from all other communication apps. There's no need to rely on someone else's servers as you can host Mattermost on your own server.

 

You can even rewrite its initial code to build a solution that meets your company's needs. 

Apart from that, Mattermost offers a range of standard collaboration features you would find in almost any other app. There are private and group channels, file sharing, unlimited message history, and video and screen sharing. 

Some more advanced features include multi-language support, custom desktop, email, and mobile notifications, keyword mention alerts, and hundreds of integrations with popular tools.

Pricing

There are three self-managed plans, including:

  • Enterprise E0 is free to use and is ideal for smaller teams. 

  • Enterprise E10 costs $3.25/user/month, billed annually.

  • Enterprise E20 plan costs $8.50/user/month, billed annually.

In addition, there are three cloud-hosted plans, including:

  • Cloud Free for small teams of up to 10 users.

  • Cloud Professional costs $10/user/month, geared towards distributed organizations. 

  • Cloud Enterprise is best suited for larger enterprises. Get in touch with customer support for a custom quote. 

Mattermost is best for:

  • Businesses that don't want to rely on someone else's servers.

  • Teams looking for a solid Slack alternative. 

  • Remote work.

  • DevOps teams.

Mattermost

 

Basecamp (top choice for task management)

Before there was Slack, there was Basecamp. It's one of the best-known project management tools that has been around for almost two decades.

Basecamp is designed to help teams improve productivity and organization and it does so by combining work management dashboards with communication tools. 

With Basecamp, you divide your work into separate projects. You can add people to projects, dates, comments, tasks, share files, and more. Each project has its own message board, group chat, project schedule, and to-do lists. In other words, you can see the whole story from top to bottom. 

One unique feature is the automatic check-ins. This feature automatically asks a question at the end of the day, like what did you work on today, and people answer when they have the time. 

Pricing

  • Basecamp Personal supports up to 20 users, 3 projects, and 1GB storage space. It's 100% free of charge. 

  • Basecamp Business costs $99/ month. It includes every feature plus unlimited projects, unlimited users, and no per-user fees.

The Basecamp Business plan comes with a 30-day free trial.

Basecamp is best for:

  • Task management.

  • Remote teams.

  • Keeping work organized.

  • Reasonable pricing. 

Basecamp

 

Workplace by Facebook (top pick for bringing teams together)

Workplace by Facebook is a powerful collaboration platform that looks like Facebook but only it's not.

It's a twist from the standard get-in-touch-with-friends Facebook platform and what we have now is an easy to use and efficient chat platform built for large organizations with massive storage needs. 

To begin with, you can create groups, which separate conversations for you. For example, you may create one group for your Software development team and another for the Marketing team. All of your groups will be nicely located on the left side of the homepage. When you click on each one, you will be presented with a feed for that group with posts and files. 

You can post messages in a group, share files, add comments to posts, and even create team events. Best of all, there's no need to use a separate video communication tool like Zoom as the platform has its own built-in group video chat.

With the more advanced paid plans, you can even hold a webinar that streams a video feed to every employee.

Pricing

  • A free plan with up to 50 groups. 

  • Advanced plan for $4/person/month. 

  • Enterprise plan for $8/person/month.

Workplace from Facebook is best for:

  • Team communication.

  • Large enterprises.

  • Companies with massive storage needs.

Workplace from Facebook

 

RingCentral Office (the best app for call management)

RingCentral Office is a SaaS communications platform that combines messaging, video meetings, and phone calls to make collaboration effortless. 

The messaging feature lets you send private messages, update stakeholders, share and pin files, even assign tasks with the built-in task management. You can easily drag-and-drop files and share directly from collaboration tools like Google Drive.

And if you want to take the discussion face-to-face, you can quickly start an HD video and audio call with instant screen sharing. There's no need to download anything. Simply join or host a meeting directly from your browser. Best of all, you can get on a call from any type of device, including mobile devices, laptops, or tablets. In fact, you can start a video meeting in just one click right from a messaging thread. The higher-priced plans even offer unlimited cloud recording and streaming.

The platform offers a range of calling features, as well. You can choose from a variety of available phone numbers, take calls from particular callers while blocking specific numbers, and improve communications with call forwarding, Call Flip, automatic voicemail transcription, and more.

On the plus side, RingCentral Office is an open platform, meaning you can build your own integrations or connect with more than 100 integrations from the App Gallery. 

Pricing

  • Essential Plan, costing $19/user/month for up to 20 users.

  • Standard Plan, costing $24.99/user/month with an unlimited number of users.

  • Premium Plan, costing $34.99/user/month with video meetings with up to 200 participants.

  • Ultimate Plan, costing $49.99 and offering all the features from Premium + device status reports, device status alerts, and unlimited storage.

RingCentral Office is best for:

  • Business communication.

  • Call management. 

  • Ease of use.

  • Video meetings with up to 200 participants.

  • Team messaging.

  • CRM integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and more.

Ring Central Office

 

Key takeaways

In this informative but easily digestible article, we've managed to analyze the 10 best communication software for 2021. 

We dived into some of the features that make Slack the go-to option for thousands of teams around the globe. We gave a quick overview of Microsoft Teams, one of Slack's fiercer competitors, and Workplace by Facebook, which is a quite promising communications app for bringing teams closer together. 

Flowdock got the title of the best tool if you're on a budget, while Basecamp now holds the title of a great pick for task management

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Slack is the tool that best suits your team, nor that you should go with Mattermost just because it's a tool specifically built for DevOps teams.

There's a term in the workplace realm known as company culture. And your company culture will decide which tool of the bunch is best suited for your team.

At the end of the day, the best communication software for your team is the one that your team likes using. Throwing a new tool at your team just because it's hip or affordable won't work. They may give it a go, but chances are you'll see their productivity levels go down and collaboration sink. 

If there's a tool that your team loves using to stay connected, stick to it. If not, go for a tool that fits your needs, and everyone feels comfortable using, especially the key players on your team. Bonus tip: if you're thinking between a few tools, test-drive their features by signing up for a free trial and then opting for whichever tool steals your teams' heart. 

Taking this approach will get you far ahead. You may even be amazed at how much more productive and organized your team has become.

Good luck! 

 
SHARE: