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Collaboration software - market, benefits and what to look for when buying

collaboration-software

The market of Collaboration software

Collaboration software was described in 1990 as "intentional group processes, plus software to support them." Today, collaboration software leverages existing technologies to enable groups to communicate, share, coordinate, cooperate, solve problems, negotiate, or even compete for the purpose of completing a task. Collaboration software, also known as collaborative software or groupware, allows for the management, sharing, and processing of files, documents, and other types of data among several users and systems, anytime and anywhere.

Teamwork is now standard practice in the smooth running of any business. Projects are increasingly cross-functional and collaborative working is now a key aspect to project management. However, the same pitfalls remain - too much time spent in meetings, too many email discussions, and too much work to be done. Projects struggle to progress, delays are inevitable and budgets are overshot. The time is ripe for corporate digital transformation, and employees should now be given the tools to match their potential, in the form of a genuine company collaborative platform.

Worldwide market revenues from collaboration software have been increasing in recent years, increasing from around seven billion U.S. dollars in 2015 to over 12 billion in 2019. The market revenue from collaboration software is forecast to keep increasing, reaching about 13.58 billion U.S. dollars in 2024.

What is the purpose of collaboration software?

What is collaboration software and what are its uses? The main purpose of collaboration software is to enhance the productivity of individuals in a group or team within an organization to achieve a particular goal. With this type of program, users can coordinate tasks and create an individual workspace to which, workflows and data can be added. The primary user who created the workspace can allow others to access, view, and make changes, and whatever modifications are made on data and files are synced across all users. This ensures that everyone involved is on the "same page" and has the latest version of the current project.

There are two dimensions to collaboration software technologies, and they relate to time and location.

Time

  • Real-time or synchronous – users do tasks together at the same time.
  • Asynchronous – users work together at different times.

Location

  • Face-to-face or collocated – users do tasks together in one place.
  • Distance or non-collocated – users work together from various places.

What are the benefits of collaboration software?​

You now know what is collaboration software but what are its main benefits? There are a number of benefits of collaboration software that can result in more efficient and effective completion of tasks and goals. Understanding what does a collaboration software do will help you justify its implementation in your organization and bolster its adoption by your employees. The successful execution of good collaboration software will afford you many advantages. Why use collaboration software? Here are four good reasons why.

  1. Saves time – Time is gold, and in a business, that is tantamount to money. The more you save time, the more you save on unwanted expenses, and the better it is for your organization. Collaboration among employees makes possible the quicker completion of end goals that wouldn't otherwise be achievable in other ways. Embracing collaboration methods cuts disparate, uncoordinated work on a particular project from different contributing members and saves not only time but also resources and efforts. If you are looking to cut costs on projects, collaboration software can help.
  2. Enhances project management – Keeping a handle on a project, a team, and its members and their progress is never easy work. Coordination and communication are of paramount importance if you want a project completed. Collaboration is one of the most optimal means to guarantee that you get the most out of your team. It opens lines of communication and makes sure everything is on track in order to avoid mistakes and confusion that can delay projects.
  3. Strengthens team relationships – One surefire way to build effective working relationships among employees is to have them work together to complete tasks and projects. Collaboration programs are designed to do that, making it easy for teams to work almost like a concerted unit with a singular purpose. This makes teams comfortable and confident in working with one another when it comes to completing common objectives.
  4. Improves organization – The process of keeping things and tasks in order has always been a problem for businesses. It is typical to lose track of what has been done and what needs to be done with project workflows simply because everything is a mess. Collaborative programs assist in maintaining order and managing the stages in workflows through open communication and coordination among concerned individuals and teams.

What does collaboration software do?

We've defined what is collaboration software, but what is it used for? The office that we know of has evolved mostly because of leaps in technology. Business organizations are no longer limited by boundaries. Whereas before, you had to be physically in the office to collaborate with co-employees to keep projects going. Now, you can be in another part of the globe or be right at home and still contribute to workflows, be in touch with team members, and keep track of how work is progressing. Technology has produced the telecommuting and mobile workforce, and collaboration software has much to do with it. Consider these statistics:

  • In an opinion poll conducted in April 2020, 20% of adults said that they were able to work from home and were doing so because of Covid-19. (YouGov, 2020)
  • Due to the pandemic, 44% of adults work from home 5 or more days per week. Before the outbreak, only 17% had the same arrangement. (Clutch.co, 2020)
  • 16% of respondents in a survey shared that they work remotely all the time while 35% said they only work remotely occassionally. (GitLab, 2020)
  • 57% of businesses are increasing spending on collaboration tools, among other software, because of the coronavirus pandemic. (TrustRadius, 2020)

Just what does collaboration software do that has impacted the professional business setting? We go over some features of collaboration software that have made remote work the new normal.

  1. Internal Communication System -Teams need an efficient communication system to be able to stay on task and not miss crucial aspects of ongoing projects. With many tools built into collaborative apps that allow all forms of communication – email, IM, voice, video – as well as mechanisms to review and retrieve conversations and discussions, team members are assured of uninterrupted coordination and kept in sync.
  2. File-Sharing – Like communication, the ability to share files, documents, data, and all other forms of media is one of the most important features of collaboration software. Many groupware now carry robust document management systems, providing you and your team members with a convenient means to share, access, view, and retrieve files.
  3. Content Creation – Several all-in-one collaboration platforms offer content creation functionality that allows for the production and publication of content, both for internal and external audiences. This is useful for inbound marketing activities, like creating blogs and informative content to attract a new audience and enhance your business' online presence.
  4. Powerful Search – Finding old files, previous conversations, or past blog posts are facilitated by the robust search feature of collaboration software. What was previously a time-consuming process has become easier as now you can use tags and search filters to find what you're looking for quickly and efficiently.
  5. Personal and Group Calendars – Keeping track of numerous meetings, events, and other important matters that need your attention is a sure headache-inducer. Personal, as well as group calendars, are integral features in most collaborative platforms to help you and your team members stay attuned, involved, and present at all times, wherever they may be.

What should you consider when getting collaboration software?

Getting and implementing collaboration software is a critical business decision. It is important that you assess certain factors and requirements in relation to your business. You would not want to waste time and money on a full-featured collaboration package when, for all intents and purposes, all you need is a good internal communication system. But you also have to be forward-looking and anticipate the time when your business has boomed, the number of your employees has risen, and the multiple tasks at hand have grown to near unmanageable levels. Future-proofing your business now with scalable collaboration software will keep you ready for future challenges.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when getting a collaboration software:

  1. Needs – Many collaboration platforms can provide that gratifying instant solution to many management and collaborative issues. But you have to gauge your specific needs before you jump right into a collaborative software environment. How will it address existing problems? What can the software actually do, and how does it perform? Is it cloud-hosted or on-premise? Will your data and files be secure? Once you have determined the specifics based on your parameters and got a clearer picture, then you can move on to the next important factor.
  2. Features – The software should carry all the basic set of features that you require for it to be an effective productivity tool for your collaborating employees. The features must be easy to use, responsive, and robust enough to get things done. They must add efficiency and improve user performance and not be a burden to users. To get a first-hand experience on how features work, you can avail of free trials usually offered by vendors. For additional information, you can also read actual customer feedback and reviews by industry experts.
  3. Cost – This is always a major consideration since a purchasing decision will rely heavily on your budget. Your investment must be reasonable and must take into account the product's long-term value and appurtenant maintenance expenses. Likewise, will it need a hardware upgrade? Ultimately, the advantages of collaboration software should be worth the cost of acquiring it.
  4. Support – Reliable technical and vendor support is a must. Trainings, tutorials, and a knowledge center should come with the software. There must be regular updates and improvements to keep the software always in top condition, and the user always having a peace of mind.

Source: FinancesOnline​

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