What is Team Collaboration Software?
What you should know about Team Collaboration software
Team collaboration software refers to any kind of web tool that helps to coordinate one or more people within an enterprise, potentially offering solutions for management, tracking the development of a project, and more. From calendar sharing solutions to conferencing software, team collaboration solutions make it easier to ensure that a team can work tightly together, even when some members work remotely.
Commonly, “Team collaboration software” is simply the title that’s used for any integrated solutions that combine a suite of team-management tools in a single product. Most modern services will include app-based or web portals with synced mobile solutions to keep people cooperating well on-the-go.
For businesses, team collaboration software provides a way to streamline communication, and the most sophisticated solutions make it possible to keep all correspondence, relevant files, and to-do lists in one location – ideal for tracking the progress of any project.
Key Features and Benefits of Team Collaboration Software
So, what makes Team Collaboration software so ideal in today’s professional landscape? Well, it offers a range of useful features to start with, such as:
- Unified Communications: When you combine virtual meetings with group chats, text messages, and emails, it can become all-too-easy to lose who said what and when, or miss an important message. Good software draws everything together into a single, simple solution
- Calendar Integration: With calendar integration features, you won’t need to manually input tasks, meetings, deadlines, and other important elements, which means there’s less space for conflict and confusion
- Activity Streams: Check out who’s working on what at any given time, so you can ensure that no-one is dropping the ball.
- Conferencing: Team collaboration conferencing solutions allow you to further integrate all of the communication on a project
- File version control: As attachments constantly move back and forth during a project, a versioning feature helps to limit questions and confusion. Usually, changes can be made in a live document, with a reliable paper trail
- Remote file access: Cloud-based storage means that working from the road is simple, with the ability to open a document at any time
- Screen sharing: Whether it’s used for presentations, training, or customer service, the ability to check out someone’s screen helps to streamline business processes
What to Include in a Team Collaboration Software Solution
When you’re choosing your own ideal Team Collaboration service, it’s important to look for:
- Ease of Use: If team collaboration software is too complicated, it will simply add to the chaos of the average workday and mean that people continue to lose track of the conversation. That’s why it’s important to have an intuitive UI with all the features you need most
- Targeted and Integrated messaging: While the ability to store conversations centrally is just one part of a team collaboration tool, it becomes more useful if the commenting is integrated with the files themselves. It can also be useful to have the direct ability to tag contributors
- Integrations: As we face “app overload”, the last thing enterprises want is for their Team Collaboration solutions to become another “problem” that busy employees need to check. Integration with the tools you already use makes managing systems easier
- Mobile: Since one of the main benefits of collaboration software is the opportunity to integrate with existing mobile services, it makes sense that the tool should work properly with mobile devices. As most products are cloud-based, they will come with native mobile apps. This, alongside robust syncing is crucial for any Team Collaboration tool
Collaboration – it’s not a new concept.
Humans, animals, insects – everything collaborates. After all, sometimes we simply need a little teamwork to get things done.
However, the concept of team collaboration has changed drastically in recent years. In the past, most examples of team collaboration involved people working together in the same office environment toward a specific end goal. Today, the dispersed digital workforce means that although we still need to work together, we need to find new ways of maintaining that productivity.
The definition of “team collaboration” in a world where the standard “team” is changing is one that involves technology, unified communications, and often the integration of the cloud.
Collaboration, Coordination, and Cooperation
To better understand “team collaboration” and what it means to the modern business, let’s look at three terms: collaboration, coordination, and cooperation. These words all mean different things:
- Collaboration means to work together to accomplish a shared vision
- Coordination means sharing information and resources to help people accomplish a mutual objective
- Cooperation means creating a network where people can support each other’s goals
In today’s agile, and rapidly-evolving work environment, all three of those terms have now joined together to form the new “team collaboration.” When today’s digital workers come together over collaboration software, they use the latest tools to cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate on business outcomes.
Supporting Team Collaboration in the Modern Workforce
Used correctly, team collaboration in the modern world is incredibly valuable. After all, uniting experts from a range of departments in your business generally leads to greater insights, fresh perspectives, and faster innovation. However, collaboration needs to be delivered carefully and efficiently for firms to generate the right results.
To begin with, business leaders need to be able to communicate their expectations for collaboration to the workforce. This could mean rolling out guidelines for using new software or providing training sessions to people who aren’t familiar with collaborative tools. Once expectations are outlined, and the correct education is provided, there are a few additional things that companies can do to improve their chances of a successful team collaboration strategy.
Team Collaboration Requires Connected Team Members
Though communication and collaboration aren’t the same things, collaboration can’t exist without reliable connections between employees. For a team to perform at their best, all the people within that group need to be able to interact through a range of touchpoints. For instance, to improve collaboration, you could:
- Use video conferencing to ensure that remote and flexible workers in a team remain connected to the rest of the group. Video allows people to communicate as if they were in the same room, sharing images, and body language that can support better understanding
- Allow for constant communication through real-time instant messaging: Instant messaging is generally an easier way to keep conversations flowing into the workforce than simply relying on everyone to connect through dispersed email streams. Instant messaging also ensures that there’s a central hub of conversation in the work environment, so people can scroll back up through the discussion and find information that’s relevant
- Use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to keep people from around the world connected. Globalisation has led to companies hiring staff members from around the world. Whether you have multiple offices that need to stay connected, or you want to reach out to contractors from overseas, VoIP keeps costs low and allows for high-quality audio conversations
Additionally, it’s worth noting that today’s team collaboration strategies demand that communication isn’t just available, but cohesive and centralised too. When you’re connecting people from different teams and environments into a single collaborative space, you need to make sure that all the information your team requires is located in that same central hub.
Project management applications like Trello and Asana are quickly becoming a common part of the collaboration environment because they help to make sure that everyone remains focused on cross-team goals and expectations.
Defining your Version of Team Collaboration
On the surface, the idea of modern team collaboration seems simple enough. Ultimately, all you need to do to create a collaborative workforce is ensure that your employees can work together. However, in a changing enterprise environment, that’s often easier said than done. For people to work together effectively, they need the right tools, aligned over the correct situations. This means that business leaders need to deliver:
- Open and unified communication environments that allow people to connect how and when they choose, using the devices that are most comfortable to them
- Collaborative tools that allow for the sharing of information and data, without compromising on the security or privacy of business assets
- Support and guidance for a multi-generational workforce, with teams that each have their own preferences for how they want to collaborate and communicate
For some smaller businesses, achieving team collaboration may be as simple as investing in a WebRTC tool for file and screen sharing, as well as a strategy for instant messaging, so that everyone can talk about projects on the go. For other companies, it may be necessary to invest in a range of advanced devices, all the way from digital whiteboards, to video conferencing solutions.
Some businesses are even beginning to support their team collaboration environments by replacing the standard conference room with miniature huddle rooms where team members can quickly and cost-effectively connect with clients and co-workers.
As the business environment becomes less of a one-size-fits-all concept, it may be time for companies around the world to begin choosing their own definition of collaboration, and building strategies based on what their teams need to perform.
Work Backwards from Your Team’s Needs
Ultimately, the best way to define team collaboration, and implement the right strategies for success today, is to find out what kind of support your staff needs to thrive. Look for the gaps in your workflow that can be supported by things like video conferencing, file sharing, and instant messaging, and decide how you can implement new tools without making employee lives more complicated.
When you’re searching for great team collaboration software, it’s important to remember that the right services can give you an edge throughout a project life-cycle, from strategy and planning to follow-up. These services cut down on the common problems that plague most projects, from file versioning, to scattered email trails and missed communications.
Before you make a choice, remember to consider those who are going to be most affected by your collaboration choices: your employees. Your staff need to feel comfortable using the team collaboration you implement, otherwise the upgrade is likely to be a failure.