As you might expect, the document management tools we review usually focus on managing business documents. These file formats include word processing documents, spreadsheets, and slide shows. These are the standard document types for business tasks. But Hightail Business (acquired by OpenText in February 2018) is different. This application targets creative businesses or departments that have different requirements, particularly regarding images and videos. Although other document management suites do store these file types and, in some cases, can perform some coordination tasks, Hightail Business not only handles these file types but also offers interaction and coordination features for companies that work with these files. Hightail Business (which begins at $325 per month) is well designed, but in the document management space, Ascenscio System OnlyOffice and Microsoft SharePoint Online earn our Editors’ Choice honors.
Hightail offers three different pricing options which depend on your team size. Each option offers unlimited projects, unlimited storage, and access to all of the features that Hightail offers. The Starter tier has a cost of $125 monthly with a 1-year commitment and allows for up to three team members. For teams up to 10 members, the Business tier (which we reviewed) is available for $325 per month when you sign up for one year.
Teams larger than 10 members will require a heart-to-heart chat with Hightail’s sales team to discuss the Enterprise plan. Enterprise subscribers have the additional benefits of priority support and single sign-on (SSO) capabilities.
Document Management for Creatives
Most document management suites rightly focus their features on tasks that are commonly performed on office documents, such as in-browser editing and change tracking. Even the advanced security and compliance features built into higher-end suites such as Microsoft SharePoint Online are all designed for a typical business scenario in which users are performing typical document tasks such as copying, editing, moving, printing, or sharing.
While Hightail Business can work with standard office documents, that’s not its forte. Where document management suites such as Ascenscio System OnlyOffice and Microsoft SharePoint Online let you comment on word processing documents and spreadsheets, Hightail Business provides tools to highlight portions of an image or a section of a video to provide context for comments. These tools can also be leveraged on some standard office document formats, letting you highlight portions of a document and apply comments. But just don’t expect to be making edits to the document inline. Hightail Business works with the following file types: MOV, JPG, PNG, MP3, DOCX, PPT, Adobe Illustrator (AI) and PDF.
Hightail Business offers a couple of different options for organizing files. Projects are the top-level organizational entity and are ideal for targeting a specific customer or product. Spaces provide an additional level of management capabilities and can either be added to a project or used on their own. Both entities let you manage access, such as which team members can contribute and who is involved in the approval process. At the end of a design effort, spaces can be archived and removed from view but saved for reference. Meanwhile, projects are simply deleted and disappear into oblivion.
Streamlining the Creative Process
Whether you’re a one-person creative shop or a member of a corporate design team, a large portion of your workload probably involves communication with customers to ensure design choices meet with their approval. It’s also likely that you’ve experienced a communication issue with your customers, where somehow the design requirements were lost in translation and some amount of redesign had to take place. Hightail Business can offer some tools to enhance this back-and-forth with customers through the use of approval requests. By selecting the customers’ files, you can send an approval request to the customers, asking for them to accept the changes you’ve made or provide comments on areas that still need work. You can also manage permissions on spaces as a whole, letting customers or team members follow progress and interact in real time.
Another common task for creative professionals is receiving files from customers to be used in their artwork or video. This could be anything from corporate logos to voice-over scripts to photographs. Due to the nature of the file types being worked with, email isn’t an optimal file transfer method due to file size. One option Hightail Business supports is integration with cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox Business, Google Drive for Work, or Microsoft OneDrive for Business. Using these options would let customers share their files by using these services, at which point you could access them within Hightail Business.
Another option Hightail Business provides is its uplink feature. Uplink lets you configure a custom URL, which you can provide to customers for them to directly upload files into your Hightail Business instance. To upload files you can select the files, drag and drop and import them. Once uploaded, you can move files to
Hightail Business isn’t just about interacting with customers, though. Team tasks can be managed by using a to-do list within a space. These to-do lists can be assigned to team members along with a due date and a reminder. Team members can mark to-do items as done, and progress can be tracked within the space. It’s not as comprehensive as a true project management solution, but for basic work management tasks it’s a handy addition.
Artists Are People, Too
Hightail Business doesn’t aim to directly compete with Microsoft SharePoint Online or even Ascensio System OnlyOffice, as it’s focused squarely on creative types looking to streamline the work they perform and to make customer interaction more efficient and effective. Its features, such as approval requests, uplink, and to-do lists, will enable your creative team to prioritize work and facilitate both team and customer communication. This will increase your chances of creating content that exceeds client expectations.