If you’re the owner or manager of a business you may have heard about collaboration software tools. In this post, we’ll describe what this software does and the main features offered by this type of solution that can greatly benefit your business.lWe’ll also tell you what tools we use at Keeping™ to collaborate effective.
The Definition of Collaboration Tools
Let’s first determine what collaboration tools is. Perhaps the best definition is that ‘It’s a solution to assist people working together on a certain task or project’. The tools available to businesses today is the result of a long history of development and best practices.
With collaboration tools, a business can improve on the following processes –
- Discussing and sharing information;
- Coordination of efforts and activities;
- Communication; and
- Working together on information/data.
Single Purpose Collaboration Tools
Below we’ve listed the main examples of single purpose collaboration tools, which focus on an aspect of joint tasks or projects –
Email is perhaps the oldest yet greatest collaborative software tool available, and it’s still used extensively. The purpose of email is for both internal and external communication, with the structure of email allowing its usage for other collaboration tasks. However, you need to ensure that your email lets you collaborate.
This is one of the reasons why we have developed Keeping™: to lets teams collaborate over email, specifically when using Gmail.
- Document Management
Collaborative software tools allow you to create, store, organize, and access your most important documents. Generally, a lot of our time at work consists of producing, collaborating with other people on, or disseminating documents with other staff members, groups, or even businesses. Many of today’s document collaboration tools have version control features, in addition to permissions to coordinate access, and audit trails for facilitating multiple contributors.
- Project Management
In your business, most efforts can logically be divided into different sets of tasks, dealt with by many people who may be both inside and/or outside your organization, with these tasks then aggregated as projects. Because these tasks and projects consist of sequenced relationships and dependencies, the use of project management collaboration software tools allow for milestones, delegation of tasks, progress tracking, set dependencies, and so on, ensuring everything is on track and goes according to plan.
- Social Tools
Today, many regard social media tools such as wall messaging, news activity streams, networking, and so on as the new email. Even though their main purpose is communication and sharing, these tools, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, have been created in a dynamic and individual-centric way, arguably offering a huge improvement over email. But there’s a lot more to come with social media, and it’s widely regarded as one of the future tools of collaboration software.
To manage your social accounts in a collaborative manner, we recommend HootSuite that offers a very generous free plan.
- Instant Messaging
Instant messaging is typically designed for, and oriented towards, instant communication.
Important Factors for Consideration, Prior to Purchasing a Collaboration Software Tool
Before purchasing a collaboration software tool, you need to create a plan for your business, because it’s critical that you have usability, flexibility, and integration with popular third-party tools. Use the following factors to create a plan for your business to ensure successful collaboration software implementation –
Determine who will be teaching you, your team, and even future users how to use these tools.
From the perspective of your company, determine who will be responsible for managing, or ‘owning’ the collaboration software. By this we mean, who will be responsible for setting processes, priorities, policies, and strategies, even when you’re not there?
Ensure that all data and conversations are secure from both internal and external hacks. From your company’s perspective, who is the person in charge of making sure your data security is monitored? In preparation for possible downtimes or crashes, determine that the vendor of this software has a backup plan.
What’s your plan of action for when something’s not working in your collaborative software tool? By this we mean, who do you call on? Does the vendor have an office you can call, or are you required to employ IT staff to maintain the tool? What about upgrades and upkeep: your software may require customization, so make sure you know who to call on.