How collaborative software can benefit your business

author Brett Dixon, March 29, 2017

Collaboration is important within any organisation as it increases individuals’ understanding. Effective collaboration and team working in a project environment are more likely to bring success as the team can easily share ideas and address any problems over intranet software or other forms of collaborative communication.

Whereas traditional collaboration required physical meetings, which could be time-consuming and not always productive, online collaboration tools provide the user with many benefits. As with most technology, there are a few drawbacks, although these can be easily overcome and are far outweighed by the advantages that collaborative software offers the digital workplace user.

Efficiency

Online collaborative software allows project team members to work together from almost anywhere. Collaboration can be facilitated efficiently even if some of your team are working at home, out on the road or in the office. This improves efficiency by reducing employee downtime.

All your project files can be stored centrally and can be accessed online 24/7 by all team members. Editing and revision of documents can be carried out remotely and the whole team alerted to the changes via an automatic email, removing the need for a member of the team to notify their colleagues individually.

One disadvantage of online collaboration is that it removes the personal touch that can be gained through face-to-face meetings, and sometimes it can be more effective to sort out problems through personal meetings. You can overcome potential issues by using the calendar feature and task lists provided by the collaborative software tool to help your project team members to manage their time from project inception to conclusion.

Cost-effective

Traditional collaboration methods are usually not cost-efficient. Online collaboration enables project operating costs to be reduced significantly, which is especially beneficial when team members are located in different places.

It is possible to use the cloud for storage, which is cheaper than using an on-premise server with its incumbent IT team. However, it is sometimes possible to end up paying for a feature within the software that you don’t actually need. To combat this, check that the collaboration software tool you are buying is the most suitable for your project’s needs.

Project management

The central file storage facility and collaboration element makes management of projects much more straightforward, especially when your team is made up of individuals from different organisations or from different branches of your business.

In addition to file storage and automatic email notification of document updates, management and monitoring of individual work streams is much easier because of the integrated calendar and task list. The project manager can quickly and easily track the progress of individual tasks via the calendar, meaning that slippage can be addressed before it has an impact on the overall project end date.

Each project team member can clearly see their allocated work stream and can track its progress remotely, facilitating a sense of task ownership and preventing any confusion as to who is responsible for the completion of which task.

Audience

Collaboration software brings many different people together, allowing many diverse individuals to become engaged in the different project tasks. This can lead to a more creative and efficient team if individuals are representative of different professional and technical backgrounds. Often, solutions to problems can be found from unexpected sources through the use of collaborative software.

Sometimes a wider audience of collaborators can lead to a slowing down of the project’s progress, especially if not everyone is contributing regularly. There is also the danger that one person will try to take over discussions and dominate the team. This could result in divisions within the team. To avoid this issue, be sure to evaluate organisations and individuals before they are invited to join the team and are given access to the collaborative software.

Internet connection and software compatibility

Your internet connection is essential to the success of online collaboration across multiple team members in many different geographical locations. If your connection is unstable or intermittent, there may be too much interruption to your team when they are working online. Before embarking on a project where collaborative software is to play a major role, be sure that your internet connection is robust enough to accommodate your requirements and have an upgrade carried out if necessary.

Make sure that you select a piece of collaborative software that is compatible with the all the various mobile devices used by your staff. This will ensure that everyone can still receive system updates no matter where they are located or what device they are using.

In conclusion

Online collaboration software can provide a really positive contribution to any project. Although there are a few drawbacks to using collaborative software, these can easily be overcome through good management and thorough planning prior to the project’s commencement. Often, a combination of traditional methods, including regular team update meetings where project team members in the various streams meet face-to-face, and the use of collaborative software works well.

For further advice on utilising collaborative software, contact Claromentis today.