Collaboration software is promoted as a tool and platform that you can use online to manage the teamwork, business partners, vendors, project progress, sales, and customer support works and many other daily business operations. Slack, Asana, Zoho Projects, Skype, Gsuite, MS Office and many others are popular online collaboration apps or software that you can use. But you can also turn WhatsApp, Facebook Group, WordPress website into collaboration tools.
Technically you can also turn many software/app/websites into collaboration tools that you’re already using such as Whatsapp. But I think the top 4 things that matter in collaboration, tools, methods, and formulas are the following:
#2. Task/Team/Work Management
#3. File Sharing
Top beneficial features that you will get for your business by using collaboration tools:
- You can share and get files (images/documents/music/video/code) with remote staff and field member instantly.
- You can track the progress on the current project in real-time.
- You can communicate with the team – Video conferencing/Calls, Text Messaging.
- You can assign work to the team members and train them.
- You can position team members on the single file/project and business process.
Examples of Collaboration Tools and Uses/Methods to use:
Example 1: Field worker/Construction Business / Support and Maintenance Services Business
If you’re providing CCTV Camera/Internet Connection, Solar Panel and many other installation and maintenance services for people, companies, organizations then it means you have to monitor and manage the team. And also have to report to the clients for billing, materials and on-site problems. So that you and your team can work smoothly and get more done.
Now you have to share site address, owner name, contact details, requirements through images, excel sheet. Similarly, when the work is done by your team, they will add the status in the sheet and will share the images with you. After that you see images and completed work then you share them with your client. If the client is satisfied and services are working then you will update the billing or you will get paid.
Now there are 3 people or organization in this case. Your Client – You – Your Team in the Field. Now all you three get benefits to get the work done faster and it will improve your revenue and save cost.
You can use WhatsApp for images and communication and excel for the client’s details and payments management.
No matter what type of business you’re doing, today you have to share images, files and have to communicate with them.
Photo sharing with clients and teams are common even in the unorganized sector.
If you’re looking for ideas to manage your field staff effectively and grow their capabilities then you can discuss with me the collaboration options and tools possible in your business.
Example 2: Remote staff Management/Project Management/IT related Business/Project
Current and past progress, performance tracking is important part of project management. Every project has stages and it’s important to track the progress and to report that to clients to get milestone income.
For example, if you’re hiring a freelancer or have remote employees and you want to build your business website then how will they start working on it. And how you want to see it.
Definitely you and remote staff communicate with each other and discuss the project and share the project details with each other, it can be a direct message, chat, telephonic call. For that, you can use skype, slack and many other collaboration tools.
For example, you have an idea for certain online product/service application and you discussed that with IT or business consultant. You have created goals, brainstorm the revenue model and many other things as per your business knowledge.
Now you have hired or assigned the work to your IT project manager or consultant to create the stages or steps to achieve the goals.
It can be like the following:
- Target Audience Research
- Domain Name Selection
- Tag lines/Branding
- Trademark Registration
- Web/app mock-up or scratch
- Finalized Design based on User interface/experiences.
- Coding and Development
- Marketing and Promotional content
- Web/App Testing and error resolution
- Product/Service Delivery
- Maintenance and support
- Payment collection and Management
and many other the common in online business or web/app development project stages.
Now you hire or give the work to each member as per the work and expertise by using collaboration tools. It can be slack, gsuite, skype, hip chat.
How you can use the collaboration tools:
Well, First, you create a group with all team members working in this project. And you set goals and standards for all the team members. Now if it’s remote employees, you can use video conferencing application or tools, skype, google hangouts and many others.
After that you can create team groups:
Such as you created a 1 group for research/domain name/branding/marketing/promotional content creation in this group you have added “Digital Marketer and Graphics Designer”.
In design and Development part you have to create the group of “digital marketer + graphics designer + web developer”.
Not only you can manage and chat them like a conferencing but also communicate with them individually. And you can set goals and challenges for each team member.
And when they will do the work, you can see what they are talking about the project with each other, what currently they are doing, what they are discussing to do tomorrow, how digital marketer speaking to the developer, and how the developer is talking with the graphics designer and many more things.
That’s the powerful example of the uses of collaboration tools that you can also use in your business. That help to manage, automate your business and you will get more done in less time.
The best thing about these collaboration tools is that you can use them in mobile, desktop and anytime from anywhere.
If you’re little confused and looking for collaboration tools and effective utilization of them in your business to manage team, then you can contact with me for consultancy and suggestions to automate your business and grow the productivity.
Example 3: Methods of collaborations tools in School/College and Educational Institutions:
You’re running a school/course and have to manage teachers/lecturers and want control over the educational process. So now what you can do:
You can create and let the teacher add this month class lecture or topics or lessons in an excel sheet or google sheet (Gsuite/Google Drive).
And let them allow to make edit and changes in the sheet.
So, you have 10 teachers and each teacher is assigned a different User ID or sheet or email id to report and enter the progress and feedback.
Your goals have to be following when you use collaboration tools:
- You can communicate. It means you can write certain things for a specific lecture in the next column.
- You can see, the status. It means when teachers finished the class, they will add “Done” in the column.
Now through collaboration tools, you can see the progress and efforts that your team is doing. You can see who is behind and who is faster. You can also incentivize with the gifts and shopping coupon codes and many other things to those who perform the best.
If you’re getting any problem in teacher/syllabus/students/management and want to use online collaboration tools and methods then you can contact me for suggestions, ideas, and implementations.
There are many things in operational management. Not 1 collaboration tool is enough. Many big companies just use Excel/Google Sheet and skype and they are superb in the management and productivity.
It’s not about the tools. It’s about how to use which tool and when.
So, I think the above examples are enough to introduce you about the collaboration apps and platforms.
How to select the best project management and team collaboration software for your business?
While all collaboration tools have unique offers and features. But to reduce cost and unnecessary expenses you have to be smart in selection.
For example, if your goal is to communicate with team members through text and just want to see and share images in a particular group of team members then you can use WhatsApp for free. It can be used in mobile and as well as on the computer.
If your goal is to just chat, video calls, share files with individual freelancer especially IT guys you can use skype for free.
If your team is bigger and have many departments then you can use slack. You can use slack to manage your IT, Sales, Customer support, marketing, and human resource department.
So, here are the top things you can consider while choosing the collaboration tools.
First thing first, you have to define your goals:
What you want to achieve and what are your current team/project management problems that you want to solve through collaboration tools.
What features do you need?
Do you want to integrate it with email, cloud storage, chat apps, websites, etc?
Do you want and need to store images?
How many users Id’s you want?
So, write the features that are most important to you.
Consider how much budget you can spend on team management. Does your investment in collaboration tools help in revenue or not? Also, see is there any other tools that you can use for free.
Do the collaboration app team really want to help you sort out the problems that you’re facing. Are they are responsive and communicate effectively? or they just want to sell you more features. This is most important, it’s because you want to use to automate your business. If something or any feature gets stopped during the business operations then it impacts into lower productivity of all team members.
Try using the trial version for any 2-3 top collaboration tools for 10 to 15 days or month. While using keep noticing the top problems that you have faced. And also notice top features that really helped you and have more important.
So, after the above and all go with a quarter and half-yearly plan if they have or you can go with a yearly plan.
The best thing is that start with a basic plan just for 4-5 users or team members. And on the way, as per its effectiveness update your plans and add more team members.
So, I hope this post will be helpful to you to understand the uses and importance of online collaboration tools. If you want to know more then please let me know.