Types of Collaboration Software: 5 Groups You Should Know About

Wrike: No. 1 Collaboration Software

USER SATISFACTION 99%
OUR SCORE 9.7

Collaboration software, also known as collaborative software or groupware, is the technology designed to facilitate and handle group work. Collaboration software may be used by groups to communicate, coordinate, share, cooperate, solve problems, negotiate, or even compete.

Collaboration software technologies are generally categorized along two main dimensions:

  • Users are working or doing tasks together at the same time (known as “realtime” or “synchronous” collaboration software) or different times (known as “asynchronous” collaboration software)
  • Users are doing work together in one place (also known as “collocated” or “face-to-face”) or in various places (known as “non-colocated” or “distance”)

Here are some of the most important reasons why you should consider using collaboration software for your small business:

  • To make communication easier, clearer, more persuasive, and more productive
  • To allow communication at times and in places which otherwise would be impossible
  • To allow telecommuting
  • To minimize if not eliminate travel costs
  • To allow various perspectives and expertise in one discussion
  • To create groups that have common interests where it would be hard or impossible to assemble enough people face-to-face
  • To cut down time and cost in facilitating group work
  • To coordinate group problem-solving
  • To allow new modes of communication, including anonymous interchanges or structured interactions

Three types of collaboration software

The 3 Cs of Collaboration Software

There are three main types of collaboration software:

  1. Communication – Early collaboration software applications like Lotus Notes are more focused on communications. Other platforms include instant messaging or chat.
  2. Conferencing – Groupware software tools consist of real-time collaboration of project members who are presented with a unified view screen. In most cases, one presenter controls the view screen, while others provide their inputs by talking or chatting.
  3. Coordination – The most recent collaborative software type and the one with the highest growth potential today, coordination software solutions help you manage complex or big interdependent tasks with a common goal.

What’s the best collaboration software?

Wrike won our Best Project Management Software for 2016

Our expers did a detailed analysis of all popular collaboration software services and we were really impressed with Wrike. This software offers a wide range of useful features nad its pricing plan is both flexible and budget friendly. In our test Wrike got the highest total score of 9.8/10 and it has a satisfaction rating of 98% which puts it at the top of our best collaboration software category. Wrike is also the winner of two prestigeous awards: the Supreme Software Award for 2016 as well as 2016 Best Project Management Software Award which further highlight the high quality of services provided by this vendor. Our experts also appreciated noticed the exceptional level of customer support which was always a very important factor when evaluating any SaaS products. If you’d like to test how Wrike can improve the efficiency of your collaboration you should give their free trial a go. You can get Wrike free trial here.

Wrike stands out from the rest of collaboration software because it was clearly designed around the idea that everything you and your team does revolves around individual tasks. That’s why in Wrike, tasks look like mini-projects because in your everyday assignments everything if focused on the tasks you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Most of the actual work—which is mostly collaborating and sharing—happens directly at the task level. Therefore, at the task level, you have the sense that this app feels very natural to use.

If you are a company that has fewer tasks or you have project that require a longer time to complet, you will be happy to learn that Wrike is more user-friendly compared with the other solutions that prefer breaking tasks up into parts. You can learn more about the numerous advantages of this software from our Wrike reviews section.

wrike-screen

Two Dimensions of Collaboration Software

Generally, there are two main types of collaboration software solutions, at least if we base the division on different dimensions of operation.

1. Asynchronous or non-real time collaboration software

Email is the most common collaboration tool out there. Email is regarded as the grandfather of today’s collaboration software applications, but it is still the most commonly used collaboration program. Today’s email, in comparison with its older features, includes intuitive algorithms for forwarding or filing messages, creating mailing groups, or attaching dozens of files with one single message. What is also sophisticated about today’s email technology is that it could automatically sort and process messages or automatically route messages online, among others.

Mailing lists and newsgroups are very similar to email systems, but the main difference is they are messages to groups of people instead of just one-to-one communication.

Workflow systems on the other hand allow files or documents to be routed through groups or organizations using a relatively-fixed process. Workflow systems can provide interesting features including routing, development of various forms, and support for roles and privileges.

Group calendars allow you to schedule and manage projects, coordinate people, and will help you schedule deliverables or deadlines. Typical features of a group calendar include: detection of conflicting schedules and coordination of meeting schedules that can work for everyone. Group calendars can help you to locate people, too.

2. Synchronous or real-time collaboration software

Real-time or synchronous collaboration software programs allow two or more people to view and edit documents or information even if they are from different areas. Shared whiteboards for instance allow people to work collaboratively on a problem on a web-based platform. Many shared whiteboards are used for informal discussions, but these tools may also serve communications that are structured or more sophisticated, including collaborative graphic design, engineering, or publishing applications.

Video communications systems, on the other hand, allow two-way or even multi-way calling using live video, basically a telephone system that have an additional visual component. Example of this would be Skype, which you can easily use for free.

Chat systems permit various people to write and send messages in real-time. Chat groups are typically created by assigning chat rooms using name, number of people, location, topic of discussion, among others.

Decision support systems are designed to help groups manage the decision making process. They allow the use of tools for brainstorming, analyzing ideas, putting weights, as well as probabilities on events or alternatives, and even voting.

Furthermore, you can look at collaborative software categories in terms of open source and paid softeare. If you have coding skills this article explains how open source collaboration software can be a smart move for you.

If you want to learn more about collaboration software then TMCNews further explains the concept behind it and the associated work process. Likewise, PBWorks talks about a short history of these collaborative software applications. And if you have a small business and you want to try and use some of today’s outstanding collaboration software applications, PCWorld gives a list of free collaboration software tools that you may find useful.

Armed with the knowledge on the different collaboration types, you should also learn the best practices in collaboration software use. Furthermore, if you want to know more about other business software applications and their history, read the guide to the history of CRM applications.

Category: Collaboration Software, guide

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