How to Select Collaboration Tools and Software
How can online collaboration software improve your business? What are the best collaboration tools for your needs?
What is collaboration software going to improve for your business? It's no secret that the right set of tools can make a job run more smoothly in any line of work. In an ever-changing information technology environment, the best collaboration tools can lead to enhanced productivity, greater efficiency with less waste, improved teamwork and exceptional cost savings across the board. Knowing how to select collaboration tools and software helps to take some of the guesswork out of achieving more for your organization.
What Is Collaboration Software?
Also known as "groupware," the collaboration software definition is as simple as it sounds. Easy-to-use, browser-based tools and software designed for people focused on the same end goal allow those teams to get on the same page and achieve their shared objectives as smoothly, swiftly and successfully as possible. Collaboration software enhances a worker's ability to perform, minimizing the white noise and focusing in on the tasks at hand as directly as possible.
When looking at how to select collaboration tools and software, keep in mind that all tools are not created equal. The tools you choose ultimately will dictate the manner in which your employees collaborate, not necessarily the other way around. Consider these important criteria when deciding on the best online collaboration tools:
Do the team collaboration solutions you are considering operate in real time? Synchronous software allows users to work together in real time, while asynchronous software requires users work on different schedules. Synchronous software often makes file sharing easier and speeds workflows.
Must users be located in the same place to benefit from these collaboration tools? Co-located tools work face-to-face with users operating on-premises. Non-collocated tools allow for more flexible collaboration across the miles.
Collaboration Tools Examples
Seemingly endless numbers of collaboration tools exist to help individuals and businesses achieve more. For any line of work, for just about any company in any geographic location, collaboration software makes it possible to get more done in less time with a better performance record. Here are some of the most common collaboration tools examples:
Collaborative Sharing and Storage Sites
Users can share documents and files, working on them together with set privileges that allow workers to edit, comment or view, depending on their level. Team collaboration apps typically house living, breathing copies of documents that you can update — and see co-workers' updates — in real time.
Meeting and Conferencing Tools
Whether delivering training to employees or presenting demos to leads and prospective customers, a collaborative conferencing environment offers a powerful suite of services. Meet live and share your desktop or share prerecorded sessions as webinars. Different conferencing features lend better credibility and momentum to your business objectives.
Messaging and Communications Programs
The instant message will continue to reign supreme in the business world indefinitely. Collaborative messaging software affords the invaluable ability to ask questions and gain immediate answers. Communications tools make it easy to create groups for strategic partnerships without regard to time zone or location. Some platforms may come with built in video conferencing tools.
Project Management Software
Task management and metric tracking becomes infinitely easier with collaboration tools designed for project management. Tools of this nature are secure and scalable, offering custom dashboards, task assignment and other tools useful in increasing productivity.
Best Collaboration Tools for Project Management
Employees in project management roles wear a lot of hats. They need to be able to delegate, budget, anticipate, assess and always remain focused so that project objectives remain on track. Project management tools and software can improve the project manager's experience as well as the overall process to completion.
Generally, project management software will include features for scheduling and planning, time tracking, task assignment and milestone tracking, reporting, resource management, project budgeting and other financial aspects like billing. Review the features of any solutions you are considering to be sure the feature set maps back to your needs.
To choose the best collaboration tools for project management, consider these important questions:
• What are the current greatest challenges in project management?
• What features are most important in a PM solution?
• How many users, and who specifically will use the tool?
• Do the tool's offerings support your team's style of collaboration?
• Does the tool offer effective communication options that mesh with team preferences?
• Is the tool within budget and if so, can you justify it with a business case?
Best Collaboration Software for Messaging
Messaging is a vital piece of the communication process every day in the office. Instant messaging allows team members and business partners to communicate on demand, increasing productivity and reducing the time from kickoff to delivery. Still, each organization has its own communication style, so be sure your messaging collaboration software maps back to your company's preferences.
Some messaging platforms include desktop sharing tools, video calling and VoIP, to name a few. Others may function like a social network, allowing you to post messages and documents for team members to read later. Larger corporations may call for more features while smaller companies may do fine with fewer bells and whistles. Consider these important questions to help you choose the best collaboration software for messaging:
• Which technical features are included?
• What groups are included in the messaging platform —
just employees or partners and customers or prospects as well?
• How secure is the chat and communications client?
• Does the tool come with all needed features and is it still within budget?
Best Collaboration Software for Conferencing
The best online collaboration tools for conferencing allow you to meet with colleagues, partners or prospects from across the globe. Your objective may be to discuss a project, deliver or absorb training, sell a product or handle another aspect of business in the presence of others. Collaboration software with built-in conferencing makes it easier and more efficient to share information in a more formal setting. Features may include videoconferencing, chat software, slideshows, screen sharing and scheduling, to name a few.
Think about everything you want your conferencing software to accommodate for your business. Consider these questions to help you choose the best conferencing software:
• Which features does the software include and do they satisfy all enterprise conferencing needs?
• Will the conferencing software integrate effectively with your company's existing network?
• Is the conferencing system cloud-capable or are there any location limitations?
• Is there a limit to the number of people that can join the conferences?
• If all aspects seem like a good fit, is this solution within the budget?
Implementing any of these collaboration software tools into your technical arsenal should deliver satisfying results. Increased productivity, smoother processes and greater cost savings will begin illustrating ROI in the near term. To get started, discover which digital workspace solutions will bring the most value to your organization and set things in motion to improve the future for your workplace.
Ready to find the right collaboration tools for your business?
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