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What is collaboration software?
Collaboration software is a tool for agile teams located in different geographies or working remotely. It’s used in advertising, banking, government, healthcare, marketing, and IT. Its primary features include document sharing, version control, role-based access and permission control, progress tracking, multichannel communication tools, and a document repository.
The software helps employees collaborate with ease, communicate quickly, and share resources. Working in a collaborative environment, multiple users can simultaneously manage and share tasks, projects, and updates in real time.
The benefits of collaboration software
Collaboration software offers many benefits to an organization that results in a streamlined workflow and effective completion of tasks and goals. It helps businesses do the following:
- Improve productivity: Executing projects on time requires live communication and collaboration. The software allows employees to share ideas, resources, and task updates with anyone, anywhere in real time. Unlike emails, this software doesn’t bury the critical information in a clutter of unrelated messages. Users can create channels for every workflow as well as alerts to track their assignments and project progress.
- Manage projects efficiently: The single, combined dashboard lets multiple users organize projects and tasks, assign those to different collaborators, track workflows, and be informed of the progress. Users can inform their colleagues about the assigned tasks, track their workflows, and communicate with peers in real time.
- Efficiently collaborate with remote workers: The software allows businesses to expand their workflows and include remote workers or peers from different geographies. This way, companies can hire local talent instead of paying to relocate employees. Remote workers will have access to the necessary project files, which ensures continued productivity at a low cost.
Typical features of collaboration software
- Communication tools: Use the tools and resources to facilitate communication with stakeholders on various tasks and projects.
- File sharing: Share files with other users and distribute the right to access, edit, or modify the files.
- Document management: Create, store, track, and manage all the documents in an organized manner.
- Task management: Create tasks and assign those to individuals. Keep a track of the workflow and monitor the overall progress until the task is completed.
- Content management: Facilitate real-time collaboration between multiple stakeholders to create and edit documents in real time. Collect, share, retrieve, and manage content in various formats stored in multiple databases.
- Brainstorming: Facilitate digital group discussions to produce and store new ideas.
Considerations when purchasing collaboration software
With hundreds of collaboration tools in the market, it can be difficult to choose just one. As part of the deliberation process, we recommend keeping the following considerations in mind:
- Know your work style: First, understand your workflows and how your teams work on projects to set expectations from the software. Next, thoroughly review the features and functionalities and match these to your expectations. For instance, startups prefer document sharing and simultaneous multiple-user access, while midsize businesses want a message-centric collaboration solution.
- Deployment options: Deciding between cloud or on-premise deployment depends on many factors such as initial investment budget, implementation and onboarding time, data control and security, and in-house IT capabilities. In general, cloud-based solutions have low upfront costs and can be implemented in a few days. But if you want to restrict access to your data and store it on your own servers, opt for on-premise solutions.
- Free trials for better evaluation: Most vendor offers free trials for a limited period, which gives you a feel of the software, its interface, and features. Once you shortlist a few products that fit your price range, choose a few employees to evaluate these solutions. Collect feedback from everyone, and then make the final purchase.
Relevant collaboration software trends
- UCC solutions to be in the mainstream: As collaboration software offers some features of communication software, the services have been integrated into a new offering called Unified Communication and Collaboration solution. Vendors who offer standalone collaboration software will offer, or are offering, APIs (application programming interface) to integrate their software with business applications such as customer service, communication, and project management.
- Collaboration with AI bots: Chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) allow faster internal communication and better customer interactions. Gartner predicts that by 2020 , the average person will have more conversations with bots than their own spouses. AI-enabled chatbots are handling front-end operations such as answering customer queries. The bots can manage data more efficiently, streamline mundane daily tasks, and improve team communication. Next time you plan a PTO, just tell the bot so that it automatically notifies your manager and your team.