Skype vs. HipChat vs. Slack: Tools for Offshore Development Collaboration

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Skype, HipChat, Slack: Which online communication tool to collaborate with your outsourced team?

Miscommunication, while perceived as a normal occurrence in outsourcing, should be the exception and not the rule. Since outsourcing follows a sensitive project timeline, miscommunication can result in delays in the development. Worse, it can affect the quality of the end-product.

Organizations and providers should continuously adapt to the changing and demanding environment. Aside from having an established system and proactively managing the project, teams on both sides can make use of online collaboration tools to improve communication.

Here are some of our most recommended tools that can help your company improve communications with an offshore software development team.



Skype, one of the most commonly used online communication tools today, has become a necessity among teams who thrive on agile systems. Skype has a business package that allows up to 250 users to connect to an online meeting, which can also be recorded for future reference.

The company’s tie-up with Microsoft allows users to access MS Office documents, which is ideal for online meetings. But, what makes Skype one of the top communication tools is its ability to make real phone calls whether you are using the free version or the business package.

Free Skype is powerful enough for small to medium-sized enterprises, enabling up to 10 people to join a video conference. Skype for Business is designed for bigger organizations without their own internal chat or video call systems.



HipChat is designed as a chat solution for teams and businesses. But unlike Skype, HipChat doesn’t allow users to go into a conference call, which can be limiting to bigger teams. However, the premium version makes up for it with other features such as unlimited cloud-based storage, screen-sharing capabilities, and searchable message history.

Another advantage of HipChat is that it can be installed on your own server. It comes with an admin tool that you can use to control users’ access to the secure network, which is advantageous to companies working with offshore software deployment teams since guest users have limited access to the network.



Slack is mainly designed for collaboration and file sharing. The software comes with an integrated internal and external file sharing option, allowing anyone from your team to upload and download files thereby improving cross-team transparency.

Slack has a powerful search functionality, enabling users to search not just in the team’s message history but also in uploaded files such as Word Documents and PDFs.

In terms of communications, Slack allows users to send direct messages. External systems such as Twitter, Dropbox, and Google Docs can be integrated with the Slack system, and the latter automatically indexes and archives not just the messages but the files as well. This means that searching for a specific conversation or file is very easy using the Slack software.


At a Glance: Skype vs. HipChat vs. Slack

Features Skype HipChat Slack
API (Allows integration with custom-made apps) Yes Yes Yes
Application Integration (Accepts integration with popular and widely-used apps) Yes (Microsoft Office, Wimi, WorkExpress) Yes (Bitbucket, Google Drive, Jira, Asana) Yes (Trello, Abacus, PagerDuty)
Application Security (Encryption) Partial Partial End to end
Application Sharing (Allows multiple access and collaboration on a single file) No Yes Yes
Real-Time Notifications Yes Yes Yes
Video Conferencing Yes No No
Contextual Search (Provides optimized results based on search context provided) No No Yes
Document Comparison No No Yes
File Transfer 2 GB Max Size 50 MB Max Size 1 GB Max Size
Instant Messaging Yes Yes Yes
Multi-Channel Communication (Allows sending of messages to other platforms) Yes (Facebook) No No
Support Type Free Free and Premium Free and Premium
Pricing From $2.00 /user/month From $2.00/ user/month From $6.6.7/ user/ month"
Trial Free trial for 30 days (By invitation only) Free trial for 30 days Free for unlimited amount of time 10,000 message limit

All three collaboration tools have their own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right online communication tool will depend highly on your organizations’ requirements, budget, and business model. You can also have a look at our selection of the 8 best tools to improve collaboration with offshore developers. Whichever you choose, these tools can help improve your collaboration with your outsourced team, ensure better communications, and improve project monitoring.

About the author

Fred had been working on IT and operational projects in the finance and software industry in Switzerland for 10 years before co-founding Arcanys in 2010. He carefully negotiated with and managed outsourcing suppliers as a corporate buyer on the one hand, and led delivery teams as an internal provider to operational departments at an executive level of listed companies in Switzerland, on the other. With nearly 20 years of experience in the industry in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, Fred is now leading the worldwide sales and marketing efforts of Arcanys. View on Linkedin