As part of Attensa's Project Dogfood we've been using BaseCamp and Central Desktop to manage projects and collaborate with partners. These tools definitely makes working with a distributed team easier. Both of these collaboration tools feature: milestones, to-do lists, file storage, messaging and Web feeds.
Apparently we aren't alone in experiencing the communication and collaboration benefits.
Benchmark Research recently completed a sponsored research study looking at the returns from the use of collaboration technology in the construction industry.
- 98% of collaboration technology users felt they benefited from having information held centrally
- 93% of users said there was less chance of losing important documents
- 90% said it was easier to find and retrieve their documents.
I'd add, getting project updates in a Web feed makes it easier to stay on top of progress.