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Working dimensions are changing at a remarkable rate and the prospect of finding the right collaboration tool can be daunting! With a boundless sea of options right in front of you making a wise choice never gets easier.
Now, when the world is leaning towards remote operations, collaboration tools are the way to organize and eliminate the chaotic management problem. It has now become critically important to get on board with a tool that encourages swift workplace conversations.
What is a Collaboration tool?
In simple terms, it is a tool that makes collaboration easy. This also means that you can connect with a team located for instance in Germany from anywhere in the world.
Team collaboration tools create a 100% digital workspace empowering project management, video conferencing, document sharing, and messaging.
In short, online collaboration software allows employees from all over the world to share their knowledge and work together to meet project deadlines.
Common features of collaboration tools
Every collaboration software has distinctive features that make it unique and perfect for different purposes. But, most tools remain the same at the core and possess the following features:
- Task management
Managing multiple tasks in the absence of handy tools can be strenuous. The purpose of a collaboration tool is to accelerate the problem-solving process and reduce the project completion timeline.
- Data collaboration
Business operations today involve data from multiple sources, data collaboration allows you to find data, manage it and get it delivered to the right people in a timely manner. Besides, every person in the collaboration loop can stay updated on edits and changes in business data.
- Document management
The collaboration process involves a great deal of sharing data through social networking. Tools with a cloud document management features are highly effective when the team is scattered around the world.
- Security measures
End to end encryption and flexibility of allowing/restricting access are some common peculiarities collaboration tools must fulfil. Some platforms consistently improve their security standards to ensure that the data remains guarded.
Smooth and flexible user interface You know you have made the right choice when your employees love working on the collaboration software. A flexible user interface allows you to access the software without any hassle.
Notification engine and reminder
The idea behind collaboration software is to eliminate miscommunication and pace up the project timeline. This cannot be done without establishing proper internal communication channels. Notification and reminder feature allows you to configure event-based notifications to automate workflows
How can collaboration tools help your business?
The world is taking a massive shift in terms of business operations, collaboration tools will assist you in the following ways.
- Organized conversation, easy sharing of resources, and delegation of work will skyrocket the productivity
- Collaboration across different countries and timezones becomes more manageable
- You will be able to track and report errors in a remarkable time. Besides, with real-time feedback features, problems can be resolved quickly
- Inter-department collaborations will give employees the push they need to meet their goals
Online collaborations are transcendent, it helps your team focus on high priority projects by cutting useless emails and meetings.
Types of collaboration tools
Developers generally build software to cater to the specific needs of the organization or audience. As with any tool, collaboration tools have advantages, drawbacks, and types; it can be broadly categorized into two major types.
- Communication Centric
As the name suggests, communication-centric tools provide interactive ways for employees to connect and share information. Project managers can create internal groups for team-related discussions. Users can modify their notification settings to avoid chatter and receive important information only.
- Coordination Centric
Coordination-centric tool focuses on collaborative management and offers easy tracking, reporting the progress of the project. Managers can assign, monitor, and leave feedback for employees to ensure that the overall project is perfectly aligned with the schedule.
Pointers to pick the right project collaboration tool
You may already have an idea of the kind of collaboration tool by now. If not, pointers ahead will serve as a guide to make the right investment.
- Focus on your problems
The need for improvement arises when problems pop up. Sit back, decipher your management problems, and outline your present organizational goals. This will help you shortlist a range of tools that cater to your intricacies.
- Think long term
Have you picturized your organization in the next five or ten years? Do you think you will still stick with the collaboration tool you are picking now? These questions will give you a clear idea of the type of collaboration software you need.
- Stalk the features
Collaboration software is a feature-rich platform that offers everything from basic task-management to no-code application development. So, try to go through and understand all the features offered to you.
- Don’t miss the customer support
Customer support is not something you need daily but one must not return with disappointment. To avoid all setbacks, look for vendors that offer a solution within 24 hours of your query.
Benefits of collaboration tool in a workplace
For the longest time managers have struggled to bring people together in the same location to work collaboratively. It seemed like an impossible task until collaboration tools came into the picture. Besides, with the new age collaboration tools, small businesses can reach out to employees globally without any turmoil.
Clearly, collaboration tools are jam-packed with benefits that reduce the burdens of a manager. We took the liberty to briefly define a few supreme benefits of collaboration tools.
- No travel. No cost
A large array of organizations arrange training sessions for their newly appointed employees. By no means these training sessions are feasible and the industry needs a reliable way to conduct them. With collaboration tools, employees can remotely access these sessions. Most tools come with recording and save for later features; training sessions can be saved for learners who are unable to join or for future references.
- Better employee engagement in projects
The long CC list can be put to rest by investing in collaboration tools. Employers face major problems in receiving adequate feedback and suggestions from employees. With cloud documentation and instant messaging features, everyone can comment, suggest, and give feedback on accessible documents. This will improve the quality of output and increase the efficiency of the overall project.
- Increased work efficiency
Most companies now have multiple branches or teams scattered around the world. With a platform that makes sharing and collaborating through documents easy gradually increases the work efficiency. Meeting project deadlines becomes impossible with distorted document sharing. An effective collaboration tool makes it easy to resolve the issue then and there without harming the flow of work.
- Overall employee satisfaction
Employee satisfaction plays an essential role in the overall growth of the company. A system should be elaborate and easy enough for the employees to fall in love with it. Besides, it is a fact that collaboration tools remarkably decrease the overall expense. Most organizations use this money to provide interactive learning sessions to their employees. Not only will these lessons enhance their knowledge base, but it will contribute to improving the overall productivity of the employees.
- Swift access to information
More often a project is delayed due to distorted channels of communication, however, social networking is a common feature of collaboration tools. Real-time feedback, instant messaging, video conferencing, and cloud documentation are some features that allow swift access to information. All you need is a decent internet connection and you are sorted for the rest of your professional journey.
- Brainstorming made easy
When people from different departments come together to engage, new ideas tend to come up. Collaboration tool creates a virtual workplace, where people constantly share ideas and provide feedback. Besides, communicating and collaborating with people from different departments minimizes the risk of inter-departmental brawls.
What is the future of collaboration tools?
The collaboration tools in the future will become more seamless, convenient for both employers and employees. In fact, businesses are leaning towards telecommute operations, and major business operations these days are happening on the go.
In the short term, collaboration tools are bound to become more mobile-friendly. A shift in the paradigm is expected to eliminate or minimize the use of emails as much as possible. The mobile-friendly version will initially be available as a communication-centric tool.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are other breakthroughs that collaboration tools will witness soon. Major IT companies like IBM are already using such technologies to summarise the conversation between colleagues.
There are 3 keys to building a successful business - determination, communication, teamwork. While determination depends on person to person, communication and teamwork are taken care of by collaboration tools. Cost-efficiency, employee satisfaction, and improved productivity are some of the many benefits associated with the tool. Besides, having the flexibility to work from all around the world is what makes collaboration tools your perfect operational partner.