Online Collaboration Software
Published September 01st, 2016 by

3 Common Collaboration Software Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Gone are the days where you come to office at 8, do your work and leave it around 5. Distributed teams, telecommuting, flexible working hours and rise of outsourcing had forever changed the way we work. And with these changes collaboration software has become a necessity rather than a luxury.

But collaboration software comes with its own set of problems as well. Here’s a look at few of them and how to avoid them in your organization as well.

Decrease in Productivity Because of Chatter/Clutter

One of the key benefits of collaboration software is the increase in productivity. Less latency means things get done quickly and efficiently. But if you don’t establish boundaries early things can get out of hand really fast.

When it comes to office communication one of the leaders in the space is Slack, and one of the biggest criticisms of Slack is that people can distracted because of the constant message they see on Slack. Of course this isn’t Slacks faults, they are just providing the tool. It’s up to the users to use it properly to simplify their work.

One main reason for these are the group channels in Slack. Lets say you’re in the marketing team consisting five members. And someone want to send a message to 3 people in the marketing team. Instead of creating a new channel for that they might just post it in the marketing channels, thus disturbing two people who the message is not relevant.

Lets take our collaborative diagramming tool Creately as an example. Users on team plans frequently complain about unrelated diagrams showing on their home project. And almost always the reason is original creators taking the easy option and sharing with the whole team instead of sharing with only the relevant persons.

The solution to this is simple, although implementing it might be a bit of problem. You need to make it clear to your team that they need to share or message only the relevant people for any task. We even considered removing the “Share with team” option because it’s not easy to enforce this policy.

No Room for Non Verbal Communication

Non verbal communication is an integral part of any communication. Gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions and body posture are all important to get the true meaning of any message. Except for an emoticon, which is inadequate at best, collaboration software has no way to capture non verbal communication.

This is especially important in creative work like designing where comments and messages are open to interpretation. Sometimes words are just not enough to communicate what’s in your mind.

Unfortunately there is no easy solution for this. Users and managers has to identify which tasks or actions require non verbal communication and provide room to make that happen. This is somewhat easier to do with small teams but gets harder as the team grows. but once the practice is in place it will become easier.

Security / Access Control

Most collaboration software resides on the cloud, which makes it less of a hassling for companies. But in turn it can be a security risk as well, especially if you’re dealing with sensitive data. Network and Internet security has improved significantly but the risk remains. This was one of the main reasons we’ve come with our server version, which is identical to the online version but that can be deployed on your own servers behind your firewall.

Before choosing your collaboration software do some research on their security measure. Things like encryption is standard these days, but things like server locations, data privacy policies, fail safe measures are also important.

Aside for the standard security another problem with collaboration tools is access control. You don’t want everyone in your organization to view every document, specially when they contain sensitive date. This is why access control is important.

Similar to security see how your collaboration tools team plans work and if they have adequate access control mechanisms.


Since most collaboration software has a low learning curve it’s template to start using them straightaway. But as we all know once you commit to a tool it’s not easy to move away to a new tool. So take your time to research, understand and compare tools so you can pick the right one. And when picking a collaborating tool make sure to see if they have measures to avoid the above pitfalls.


Lead Internet Marketing Specialist at Creately
Software engineer turned online strategist, I work with startups to increase their online exposure and bring qualified leads and sales.

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