Buyers Guide

 

Our Guide To Collaboration Software

If there is one business element which has been revolutionised the most by the digital era, perhaps it is communication. A quicker and more versatile form of communication is one of the major attributes which collaboration software offers organisations. Team members can now be anywhere in the world and still combine their efforts for the greater good. Group work has never been simpler or more flexible, incorporating users of different devices in different time zones all through the same collaboration software. Users can choose their favoured communication mode at any given time, typically using email, voice or video calls and instant messengers. Collaboration software is utilised across a wide range of sectors, from finance to retail, construction and healthcare.


Key features

If you are in the market for collaboration software, there are certain typical features which you should watch out for. You might require all or some of these key features, and a large share of collaboration software solutions on the market will include them:

Calendar

If you are involved in any kind of project or team, there is a good chance you recognise the critical importance of organising your time. Look out for collaboration software which allows you to align your calendar with fellow team members, viewing both group and individual versions. Some software also provides easy synchronisation with your existing calendars such as Outlook or Google Calendar.

Communication tools

Being able to engage with fellow users is a key facet of collaboration software. Typical tools offered as part of today's solutions include video calls and conferencing, instant messaging, and forums which offer 'thread style' discussions. The way you prefer to communicate is key to discussing projects and updating fellow team members, so pick a solution which suits your preferred mode of communication.

Project management

Being able to organise projects more effectively is one of the typical advantages offered by collaboration software. You should be able to split ongoing work into separate projects, and then further segment into tasks or duties. Users are commonly able to set and adjust deadlines according to progress, and some software provides visualisations which present project progress in a chart or graph form.

Document sharing

Files from videos to text messages and images are shared simply between users thanks to collaboration software, with users able to set permissions based on roles, offering added security.

Content options

Documents such as text content can typically be worked on simultaneously in 'real time' by a number of users, allowing ongoing editing and a clear idea of who has made changes, and when.

Storage

On cloud-based collaboration software, it should be possible to store all completed documents related to projects in an organised manner and access them via a search function. Organisations which typically store a large number of files should ensure that their solution offers the required space, with the option to 'scale up' if necessary.

Benefits

Cutting overheads - the costs involved in employing a number of different communication tools concurrently can be negated thanks to the integration of collaboration software. For organisations with disparate teams, the chance to save on travel costs by being able to communicate effectively through digital means also makes collaboration software tick the box of return on investment.

Streamlining information - having a centralised location for content, which can be accessed by all teams irrespective of their time zone, encourages easier collaboration and more efficient organisation. Collaboration software can mean an end to the days of long email chains in which different versions of a document are edited by different users, meaning there is more potential for errors.

A productivity boost - with the speed and added organisation offered by collaboration software, a natural consequence is an increase in employee productivity. Less time needs to be spent searching for documents, tracking the most up-to-date versions of files within email chains, and opening and closing different communication tools which can be brought under one solution by collaboration software.

Employee satisfaction - nobody likes to spend more time looking for something than they need to, or wait while different programs open and close on a computer, slowing down progress. Collaboration software can make working a less laborious and time-consuming process, meaning employees channel less of their efforts into undertaking mundane tasks, and more time making a difference by using their specialist skills.

Current trends

Collaboration software is developing all the time, in line with the changing face of today's working habits. For this reason, it is worth keeping an eye on emergent trends, in order to prepare your organisations best for what lies ahead. Here are some 2017 trends which we have tracked:

Individual software choice - because many collaboration software solutions are increasingly viable for individuals, rather than just organisations, it is becoming more common for personal users to have their own preferred tool. Such is the increased level of synchronisation offered by today's solutions that individuals who are joining an organisation or working with them for the first time might be able to simply 'plug in' to the preferred solution used by a company using their existing tool of choice.

IoT input - the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up a whole new world of big data, via uninterrupted connectivity between devices as part of a network. Expect to see an increased incorporation of IoT into collaboration software, allowing users to manage IoT networks, extract data from them, and discuss IoT projects with fellow users in real time.

Bots - while collaboration software has helped us communicate more effectively, what happens when there are no team members around? Chat bots which use conversational software can be ideal for new team members who need answers to their questions, offering an instant response delivered in an engaging and personal manner. As the complexity of collaboration software solutions increases, bots can help break down how to best utilise tools.