The promise of technology doesn’t always coincide with reality, but this is not the case with team collaboration software. Social media might be working out the kinks, but in business, team collaboration software has brought people together.
As the work landscape changes, software is there to fill in the gaps. The talent pool has expanded beyond the borders of the office to reach into the four corners of the world. Now distributed teams can be working together on the same project in different time zones as if they were all under one roof.
How Team Collaboration Software Works
Yes, real-time collaboration is possible thanks to advances in networking. Team collaboration software has made time and space almost irrelevant. That might be an overstatement, but there’s much truth to the fact.
That being said, not every collaboration product has the tools to fully achieve the potential of remote teams. What is that potential? Increased productivity. If talented people can work on a task together, where they can get feedback and direction, the faster and better that task will be accomplished. It’s critical to find a software that suits your organization’s workflow, so barriers are taken down, not reinforced by ill-fitting tools.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous Collaboration
Teams collaborate in different ways, especially in-house teams versus distributed teams. Collaboration can be synchronous, which is when teams are interacting in real time, such as in online meetings or instant messaging programs. Collaboration can also be asynchronous, where the interaction is not wedded to the same time and can be shifted, such as uploading shared documents or annotations. This way, when teams are in different time zones, the work can continue.
Before you invest in software, you need to do research and make sure it offers features that fit the way your organization does work. Depending on your project, you might need an array of different features to address your workflow.
Team Collaboration Software Essentials
Naturally, collaboration is not exclusively executed in software. There must be awareness on part of the team to work together for a shared purpose. They also must be motivated to solve problems through consensus and mediation.
Teams that thrive in such environments are self-directed, deciding individually when something must be done, rather than having a manager hovering over them. Furthermore, each team member must participate in the success of the whole team: team members share the victories and failures. They are not passive but are proactive and engaged in the work.
If your teams are conceptually aligned, and you provide them with the right tools, then there is little to hold them back. In terms of what you want to have in a team collaboration tool, the following are essential items for turning collaboration into results.
1. More Than Chat
Team collaboration software should be more than a messaging program. While business has embraced communication tools like Skype, there’s much more to collaboration software than simply chat. Yes, any good team collaboration software will have a feature to enable dialogue among team members, but without providing them practical ways to work together, you’re limiting the team.
Collaborative Project Management Tools
With a more dynamic team collaboration software, you can do more than talk; you can actually execute projects together. If the software is cloud-based and features online Gantt charts, they can collaboratively work on the project plan and schedule. If some tasks are dependent upon one another, they can be linked, and everyone will see that. When they have a deadline that is fast approaching, others who are not under the gun can help, adding resources to keep the project on track.
For example, ProjectManager.com features online Gantt charts that can be easily edited to adjust schedule changes by simply dragging and dropping the start and end dates. And when a team member updates a task on ProjectManager.com, everyone is updated instantly, preventing bottlenecks and boosting productivity.
2. Everything Work-Related in One Software
Many teams have one tool for online chat, another for project management, another for to-do lists and another still for file storage. It might seem like a little thing, jumping from one program to the next to continue the conversation and access the relevant documentation, but all those steps remove you from the task at hand. When everything is in the same place, you can stay focused and put all your energies into working and not leapfrogging from software to software.
ProjectManager.com offers a means to collect important images and other files related to the task. These documents can be attached at the task level and team members can access them as needed as well as comment on them. This way supporting materials are always available, and conversations are tethered to an actual task rather than taking place on some other part of the software, or even a whole other program.
3. Everyone Doesn’t Need Access to Everything
If you can’t control who sees what in the software, it can create a sort of information pollution that can be just as aggravating as older, less elegant collaborative solutions. This why it’s essential that your team collaboration software can make groups for different departments project team members. For example, stakeholders don’t need to know the minutia of a project, and team members aren’t going to be interested in broad strokes.
While transparency and real-time communication are essential, so is privacy and security. Some topics are for upper management only, for example. ProjectManager.com has strict access rules, so team members can only see projects and tasks that they are assigned to.
A Space to Call Your Own
And finally, any team collaboration software that wants to sidestep these issues must have a section for private work, such as the “My Work” section in ProjectManager.com. It’s a place to collect tasks across projects, and their own personal work, too. It also gives users the opportunity to track their progress how they like. This could be a task list or maybe a more visual method, such as a kanban board. This is a section of the software that is private.
Team Collaboration Software Helps Teams Be More Productive
Whether you’re distributed across the globe or just the office suite, team collaboration software facilitates working together. It saves time, which is the gold standard of any project, and makes it easier to manage tasks and teams. This culture of empowerment builds relationships that help teams do their jobs better, while fostering loyalty. That means retaining valuable talent.
If you get the right team collaboration software, it will also improve your organization. It inherently helps to add order to tasks and processes. You’re more likely to keep on track, as you have more eyes on the process and more people to respond to things when they are not proceeding as planned.
Team collaboration software doesn’t have to be a standalone program or, as we noted, a separate item from your other project management tools. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that has collaboration, planning, scheduling, tracking and reporting tools. See how ProjectManager.com can make your teams and projects more collaborative—and more successful—by taking this free 30-day trial today.