Charlie owns three restaurants in New Jersey, and is thinking of getting a group collaboration software for his establishments. He asks—
“Hi, I have read in dozen online reviews and comparison sites for small business about the benefits of using collaboration software programs which groups of users can use for their businesses. I am really interested. However, I have little idea of what that application is. What is a group collaboration software program? And why should I get this software program for my business? Thanks!” – Charlie, NJ
Thanks Charlie for asking. And by the way, if in case you want to streamline your accounting system in your workplace, you may want to read this side-by-side comparison of the top accounting applications for businesses like you.
In essence, these are collaboration software programs that provide tools for various groups of people or even organizations to share information as well as coordinate activities among and within themselves. Collaboration software applications enable the sharing, processing as well as management of files, documents and even other data types among its several users and/or systems. This kind of software gives two or even more remote users to jointly collaborate or work on a certain task or project.
Collaboration software is mainly designed to increase the productivity within a group of users and within organizations. This is obtained through the coordinated tasks provided by the software, allowing joint processing and management capabilities.
With collaboration software, remote users can create his or her own workspace and add data or information and/or workflows to the workspace. The created workspace is then viewable and accessible by other users, regardless of physical location, and can be have access to the workspace which is provided by its primary user. Any changes made to the information or documents get synced across all the group users using the collaboration software, assuring that all will have the most updated version of a certain document or ongoing project.
In the case of collaboration software that is cloud-hosted, the same data or information is hosted and directly accessible from the software host site.
Collaboration software is also referred to as collaborative software, groupware, and online collaboration software. They are related to but different from other content management systems and social networking tools.
Generally, these tools include:
Some of these group collaboration software applications provide a number integrated tools while some focus more on providing a single solution such as shared file storage.
Some exist as free, if not cheap, tools. The more popular ones include the old Yahoo! Groups although other companies also provide simple online group solutions. Other website business startups have similar group solutions, even offering more sophisticated applications and technologies. The newer group solutions charge a minimal cost, often providing a demo version for potential customers to try it out first. Others offer cloud-hosted collaboration solutions for groups.
Wikis are good tools for group collaboration and it seems they are among the major innovations in such collaboration software programs. Of course, one can immediately think of Wikipedia, which may be the most representative example of a group collaborative software in the public domain.
Google Groups combines the features of email, web-forum, as well as a group wiki.
P.S. For further reading on collaboration software, I recommend the following helpful guides: where to look for cheap vendors of web collaboration software; 3 highly recommended collaboration software for small business; and good cloud based collaboration software.
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