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Classification of Collaboration Technology: Introduction for Beginners

Category: Collaboration Software

A lot of the best businesses these days, whether they are big enterprise companies or people who have small business firms, are using collaboration software programs to help improve their productivity and good performance.

If your business or your business team is not using collaboration software tools, then it is high time for you to learn more about the concept and the tools, which can be helpful to grow your business.

But what are collaboration software tools?

Also known as collaborative or group software, collaboration software generally helps people involved in a joint task or project to accomplish shared goals. They are created to improve how documents, files, and other forms of media are shared for a more effective and better team collaboration.

Collaborative software helps you facilitate action-oriented groups or teams that are working together, even across geographic distances, by giving tools that aid communication, collaboration, as well as the overall process of problem solving. In addition, collaboration software technologies may help in various project management functions, including managing deadlines, overseeing task assignments, and shared calendars.

One classification of collaboration technology is based on the level of collaboration among the users of a particular project or task.

1. Communication tools

You can think of these electronic (web-based or cloud-hosted) communication tools as interchange of information and discussions that is unstructured. They allow you to send information (such as messages), files, data or information, or other documents between people or groups of people and, hence, coordinate the sharing of information.

These include:

  • asynchronous or synchronous conferencing
  • email
  • voice mail
  • Wikis
  • web publishing

2. Conferencing tools

Also known as collaboration-level tools, these conferencing tools often refer to interactive work for a common goal. They too facilitate the sharing and collaboration of information, but compared with the earlier communication tools, they facilitate in a more interactive fashion.

Common examples include:

  • Internet forums (also known as discussion boards or message boards), which serve as a discussion platform on the Internet to facilitate as well as manage online messages
  • online chat, which is a discussion platform online that facilitate as well as manage real-time messages
  • instant messaging
  • videoconferencing, where users or groups of users can discuss ideas and information real-time using audio and video (among the top cases for this include Skype)
  • data conferencing, where networked computers use a common whiteboard that the users can each modify
  • application sharing, where users can access a shared application from their own computers in real time and simultaneously
Read more:  Document Collaboration Software: What Is The Best Program Google Docs Or Microsoft Office 365?

3. Coordination tools

Coordination tools generally refer to the more complex interdependent work for a common or shared goal. The best collaboration management tools often facilitate as well as manage group activities.

These include:

  • electronic calendars (also known as time management software programs), which can schedule events and notify or remind group members automatically
  • online proofing, which can share, approve, review, and reject documents, files, web proofs, artwork, videos, photos, between designers, customers, as well as clients
  • project management systems, which can track, schedule, and chart the stages in a project as it is being finished
  • workflow systems, which involves managing of tasks and documents within a business process
  • enterprise bookmarking, which is a collaboration bookmarking engine that can organize, tag, share, as well as search data
  • knowledge management systems, which can collect, manage, organize, and share forms of information
  • prediction markets, which allow people to predict together the aftermath or outcome of future events
  • social software systems, which organize various social relations of groups
  • online spreadsheets, which collaborate as well as share structured data and information
  • extranet systems (also known as “project extranets”), which can collect, organize, tag, and share information that are associated with the delivery of a project
  • client portals, which allow you to interact as well as share with clients using a private online environment

Another classification of collaboration technology is based on the method they are used. These are:

  • Web-based collaboration software tools
  • Software collaboration software tools

A number of these tools offer cheap fees to use, with some even giving out demo versions for businesses to try them out first. Some tools are free.

Yet one more classification of collaboration technology is based on the area served. These are:

  • Knowledge management collaboration software tools
  • Knowledge creation collaboration software tools
  • Information sharing collaboration software tools
  • Collaboration project management tools

An About.com article, “How collaboration can work for business”, explains that collaboration software tools can give you a technological framework to enable you and your team to work together. However, it says there is a need to review the workflow process, as the mere purchase and use of collaboration software technology does not mean things will change overnight.

Still, many types of organizations or firms can find the usage of collaboration software tools very beneficial to their productivity and growth. While B2B or B2C businesses are often cited as examples of companies that will benefit from using collaborative software tools, professional or consultancy services can also benefit. Take for example, how collaborative software technologies can help individual lawyers or legal firms. AmericanBar.org argues that lawyers or legal firms can take advantage of these tools (many of which are cheap or even free) to prepare cases, share information, manage projects, among others.

Read more:  List Of Collaboration Software: Top 5 Picks For Small Business Groups

PCMag also gives a simple definition of collaboration software to help you remember the basics. Now you know the different collaboration technologies, here are some tips on how to choose the best collaboration software. Also, if you’re a teacher, there are specific collaboration software tools for educators.

In case you are also interested in knowing more about other business software solutions like CRM and its future, read the guide on the future of CRM software applications.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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