How To Choose The Best Collaboration Software: A Beginner's Guide

When you have employees spending a lot of working hours in the field, it can be difficult to organize and manage projects or share information. Today, an increasing number of companies, either small business or large enterprise, are using collaborative software tools to be more efficient, productive, and competitive.

According to a survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and HR.com, a virtual community of human resources experts of 118 organizations, about 22 percent of companies are now using real-time collaboration solutions for their online meetings. Likewise, about 24 percent of them are using document-sharing software.

In a 2012 study by Clinked.com, a UK-based business collaboration startup, said that 75 percent of B2B and B2C companies admit online collaboration software tools are “important” or “somewhat important” to their business in the next twelve months.

Without doubt, streamlining your top business processes is the solution.To stay being the best in your field, using collaboration software is the way to go. This makes organizing workloads as well as team collaboration faster and more efficient compared with accessing tools scattered either across the web, personal computers, or the company’s network. Good collaboration software solutions also help integrate productivity apps into your workflows.

When looking how to choose the best collaboration software for your business, always remember these tips:

How To Choose The Best Collaboration Software

1. Determine which applications or solutions you really need and how you will use them.

Before buying a collaboration software, it is crucial that you fully understand the needs of your business. Sometimes, businesses buy software with the widest array of features, but forgetting how these features can actually solve their problems. The collaboration tool you need should depend on the needs of your business or team; thus, the tools you need may be different from those used by other businesses.

So evaluate first the needs of your business or your organization and check how the collaboration tools can address your needs. Maybe your problem is that not everyone in your team is kept abreast on the project’s latest developments; a document-sharing application that allows the team to see and edit the most recent document version may provide a solution. Or maybe you want to hold a meeting but some of the staff are in the field or in another time zone; a video or audio conference application can be useful.

2. Implementation: A step-by-step process

Collaboration software tools are designed to help you, but they cannot not save your business without your inputs. In short, before you even start buying and using collaboration software, make sure that you fully realize and understand the needs of your business or your team, and the resources you have to implement the software in the long term.

Read more:  6 Hidden ERP Accounting Software Licensing Costs

When using collaboration software solutions, employee adoption is critical. You should know how these tools can boost your staff’s workflows (for beginners, here are the different classifications of collaboration software). For instance, instead of simply emailing an important financial sheet, then forgetting to include in your email the contact of an important team member, your team can upload the said financial sheet to specific team areas or business departments. Once the file is uploaded, authorized employees can provide comments or even edit the file; thus, workflow is streamlined and synchronized.

When selecting how to choose the best collaboration software, take a good review of the following questions before deciding which vendor to tap:

  • Is the collaboration software cloud-hosted or on-premise?
  • Is there a trial period?
  • Do you need to employ consultants or a full-time IT staff to set up and customize the service?
  • Do you or your staff need training to understand how the program works?
  • Does the collaboration software have a mobile version?
  • Is the pricing transparent and clear?
  • Are there hidden fees to purchase the software?
  • Is a long-term arrangement required?
  • What if I need help? Is there customer support?
  • Are the added features cost you extra?
  • Are my data safe and secure?
  • Are there backup features or facilities?
  • Can my data be exported?

Finally, before considering how to choose the best collaboration software, look at the following features:

  • Check if the collaboration software keeps everything under wraps with easy-access quick views. Look for a dashboard where you can monitor the projects, tasks, and calendars.
  • Check for collaboration software with interactive timers that you can use to track task accomplishments.
  • An activity screen that can help you and your team to track project activities, while only allowing authorized members to view the progress reports.
  • Set milestones for you and your team by assigning and delegating task lists. You should be able to divide the task or project into stages.
  • Collaboration software tools that enable users to manage a company social network, create groups, microblog, or send files, RSS feeds, integrate email accounts, provide a clean and simple interface, or help make a creative setup process.

Here are more features, functions, and types of collaboration software.

If you’re  interested to know more about CRM software applications and tips on how you can choose the right solution for your business, check the guide on how to choose the best CRM software for small business.

Category: Collaboration Software, guide

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