What is collaboration software? Best practices and examples

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Collaboration software or tools and online platform help in managing various aspects of daily business operations, including teamwork, business partnerships, vendor relationships, project progress, sales, customer support, and more.

Slack, Asana, Zoho Projects, Skype, Google workplace, MS Office, and many others are popular online collaboration apps or software that you can use. But you can also turn WhatsApp, Facebook Group, and WordPress websites into collaboration tools.

Technically you can also turn many software/apps/websites into collaboration tools that you’re already using such as Whatsapp. But I think the top 4 things that matter in collaboration, tools, methods, and formulas are the following:

#1. Communication

#2. Task/Team/Work Management

#3. File Sharing

#4. Storage

Top beneficial features that you will get for your business by using collaboration tools:

  1. You can share and get files (images/documents/music/video/code) with remote staff and field members instantly.
  2. You can track the progress of the current project in real time.
  3. You can communicate with the team – Video conferencing/Calls, Text Messaging.
  4. You can assign work to the team members and train them.
  5. You can position team members on a single file/project and business process.

Examples of Collaboration Tools and Uses/Methods to use:

Example 1: Field worker/Construction Business / Support and Maintenance Services Business

If you’re providing CCTV Camera/Internet Connection, Solar Panel, and many other installation and maintenance services for people, companies, and organizations then it means you have to monitor and manage the team. And also have to report to the clients for billing, materials, and on-site problems. So that you and your team can work smoothly and get more done.

Now you have to share the site address, owner name, contact details, and requirements through images, excel sheet. Similarly, when the work is done by your team, they will add the status to the sheet and will share the images with you. After that you see images and completed work then you share them with your client. If the client is satisfied and services are working then you will update the billing or you will get paid.

Now there are 3 people or organizations in this case. Your Client – You – Your Team in the Field. Now all you three get benefits to get the work done faster and it will improve your revenue and save cost.

You can use WhatsApp for images and communication and excel for the client’s details and payments management.

No matter what type of business you’re doing, today you have to share images, and files and have to communicate with them.

Photo sharing with clients and teams is common even in the unorganized sector.

If you’re looking for ideas to manage your field staff effectively and grow their capabilities then you can discuss with me the collaboration options and tools possible in your business.

Related: Importance of leadership development in the workplace

Example 2: Remote staff Management/Project Management/IT related Business/Project

For current and past progress, performance tracking is an important part of project management. Every project has stages and it’s important to track the progress and to report that to clients to get milestone income.

For example, if you’re hiring a freelancer or have remote employees and you want to build your business website then how will they start working on it? And how you want to see it.

Definitely, you and remote staff communicate with each other and discuss the project and share the project details with each other, it can be a direct message, chat, or telephonic call. For that, you can use skype, slack, and many other collaboration tools.

For example, you have an idea for a certain online product/service application and you discussed that with an IT or a business consultant. You have created goals, brainstorm the revenue model, and many other things as per your business knowledge.

Now you have hired or assigned the work to your IT project manager or consultant to create the stages or steps to achieve the goals.

It can be like the following:

  • Target Audience Research
  • Domain Name Selection
  • Tag lines/Branding
  • Trademark Registration
  • Web/app mock-up or scratch
  • Finalized Design based on User interface/experiences.
  • Coding and Development
  • Marketing and Promotional content
  • Web/App Testing and error resolution
  • Marketing
  • Product/Service Delivery
  • Maintenance and support
  • Payment collection and Management

and many others common in online business or web/app development project stages.

Now you hire or give the work to each member as per the work and expertise by using collaboration tools. It can be slack, google workplace, skype, hip chat.

Related: Uses of Email in Business Communication

How you can use the collaboration tools:

Well, First, you create a group with all team members working on this project. And you set goals and standards for all the team members. Now if it’s remote employees, you can use video conferencing applications or tools, skype, google hangouts, and many others.

After that you can create team groups:

Such as you created 1 group for research/domain name/branding/marketing/promotional content creation in this group you have added “Digital Marketer and Graphics Designer”.

In the design and Development part, you have to create the group of “digital marketer + graphics designer + web developer”.

Not only you can manage and chat with them like a conference but also communicate with them individually.  And you can set goals and challenges for each team member.

And when they will do the work, you can see what they are talking about the project with each other, what currently they are doing, what they are discussing to do tomorrow, how the digital marketers speaking to the developer, and how the developer is talking with the graphics designer and many more things.

That’s a powerful example of the use of collaboration tools that you can also use in your business. That help to manage, and automate your business and you will get more done in less time.

The best thing about these collaboration tools is that you can use them on mobile, desktop, and anytime from anywhere.

If you’re a little confused and looking for collaboration tools and effective utilization of them in your business to manage a team, then you can contact me for consultancy and suggestions to automate your business and grow productivity.

Example 3: Methods of collaborations tools in Schools/Colleges and Educational Institutions: 

You’re running a school/course and have to manage teachers/lecturers and want control over the educational process. So now what you can do:

You can create and let the teacher add this month’s class lecture or topics or lessons in an excel sheet or google sheet (Gsuite/Google Drive).

And let them allow to make edits and changes to the sheet.

So, you have 10 teachers and each teacher is assigned a different User ID or sheet or email id to report and enter the progress and feedback.

Your goals have to be the following when you use collaboration tools:

  1. You can communicate. It means you can write certain things for a specific lecture in the next column.
  2. You can see, the status. It means when teachers finished the class, they will add “Done” in the column.

Now through collaboration tools, you can see the progress and efforts that your team is doing. You can see who is behind and who is faster. You can also incentivize with gifts and shopping coupon codes and many other things those who perform the best.

If you’re getting any problems with teacher/syllabus/students/management and want to use online collaboration tools and methods then you can contact me for suggestions, ideas, and implementations.

There are many things in operational management. Not 1 collaboration tool is enough. Many big companies just use Excel/Google Sheets and skype and they are superb in management and productivity.

It’s not about the tools. It’s about how to use which tool and when.

So, I think the above examples are enough to introduce you to collaboration apps and platforms.

Related: How to be innovative in business: Business and Innovation

How to select the best project management and team collaboration software for your business?

While all collaboration tools have unique offers and features. But to reduce cost and unnecessary expenses you have to be smart in selection.

For example, if your goal is to communicate with team members through text and just want to see and share images in a particular group of team members then you can use WhatsApp for free. It can be used on mobile and as well as on the computer.

If your goal is to just chat, video call, and share files with individual freelancers, especially IT guys you can use skype for free.

If your team is bigger and has many departments then you can use slack. You can use slack to manage your IT, Sales, Customer support, marketing, and human resource department.

So, here are the top things you can consider while choosing collaboration tools.

First thing first, you have to define your goals:

What do you want to achieve and what are your current team/project management problems that you want to solve through collaboration tools?

What features do you need?

Do you want to integrate it with email, cloud storage, chat apps, websites, etc?

Do you want and need to store images?

How many users Id’s you want?

etc.

So, write the features that are most important to you.

 

Pricing:

Consider how much budget you can spend on team management. Does your investment in collaboration tools help in revenue or not? Also, see if there are any other tools that you can use for free.

Support system:

Does the collaboration app team really want to help you sort out the problems that you’re facing? Are they responsive and communicate effectively? or they just want to sell you more features.

This is most important, it’s because you want to use it to automate your business. If something or any feature gets stopped during the business operations then it lower productivity of all team members.

 Final Decision:

Try using the trial version for any 2-3 top collaboration tools for 10 to 15 days or months. While using keep noticing the top problems that you have faced. And also notice the top features that really helped you and have more important.

So, after the above and all go with a quarter and half-yearly plan if they have or you can go with a yearly plan.

The best thing is that start with a basic plan just for 4-5 users or team members. And on the way, as per its effectiveness update your plans and add more team members.

So, I hope this post will be helpful to you to understand the uses and importance of online collaboration tools. If you want to know more then please let me know.

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