With the rise of collaboration technology, walking over to your colleague’s desk to discuss a work issue is becoming less of a thing. Thanks to a rise in geographically-distributed teams and the telecommuting culture, workers are increasingly dependent on technology for collaboration. According to an Alfresco survey, more than 83% of professionals revealed that they depended on technology to collaborate at work. A staggering majority of these workers also believed that they would feel “impacted” if this technology to collaborate was lost.
How effective your collaboration is depends to a great extent on the technology available. The past decade has seen a sharp rise in the number of desktop and cloud based collaboration tools in the market. Picking one from the hundreds available is a matter of choice. In this article, we will take a look at the factors one must consider while picking a collaboration tool that suits their business.
The first and foremost factor that determines the pool of options to choose from depends on your process framework. Some project collaboration tools are based on Kanban, Scrum and Agile methodologies. If you follow any of these frameworks at work, it is a good idea to pick a tool that adheres to this framework. For example, Trello is a great choice if you would like to follow the Kanban model. In contrast, Wrike is a fantastic option for enterprises that follow the Scrum model because it helps them take their scrum period from one week to even one day.
A number of modern day startups do not like to follow any specific process frameworks and would rather prefer a tool that they are comfortable with at an interface level. For example, Slack is based on a group chat interface and is popular among young startup employees. Basecamp, on the other hand, is popular among users who like to organize their collaboration into specific folders. There is no one ideal platform as far as interface is concerned and the choice is entirely personal.
The product ecosystem is an underrated factor when it comes to picking a collaboration tool. While each of these dozens of tools in the market today is great in their own way, there are always use-cases where each of these tools falls short. In other cases, the tools may need to be integrated with other apps and software tools you need at work. The most popular collaboration tools have dozens of third party plugins and add-ons that should help you integrate your collaboration software with other apps and tools. You may, for instance, need to set up a poll for your team members on Slack. Or, you may want to create/modify tasks directly from your Gmail window. There are third party plugins and add-ons that can perform many of these tasks. Make sure that your collaboration tool comes with the necessary third party support to do things you want for your projects.
Pricing plays a big part in determining the right collaboration tool for your business. This is especially true if you have a large team or work in an industry that needs to share large files. For example, Trello, is free to use but does not permit file attachments that are over 10 MB in size for free users. Slack is similarly free to use, but has an overall 5 GB storage for free users. Wrike, on the other hand, is free for small teams of under 5 members, but can cost around $10 per additional user per month. Basecamp charges a flat $99/month for unlimited collaboration and is therefore great for large teams. You should pick a tool that is most cost-effective for your team size and collaboration requirements.
Hosted Vs. Cloud
There are not many reasons why you should go for a hosted system over a cloud based service. But sometimes, users may not really have a choice in the matter. This might be due to management decisions to not trust third party servers for confidential internal discussions. Other times, businesses (like those in the healthcare or financial services industries) may be mandated by law to keep patient or customer data within their servers. Keeping your collaboration software hosted within your company servers may make sense in these instances. However, hosted systems may hinder collaboration especially if you also have remote workers who may not have access to your intranet. These factors must go into consideration while picking a hosted solution. It may also be pointed out that such software applications come with an annual licensing fee and bootstrapped startups that prefer a monthly subscription may find this expensive.
Collaboration tools are a fundamental requirement in the modern workplace. CrowdReviews has over 100 such tools listed in its database. A lot of these tools offer free trial and it is a good idea to experience the product before making the purchase decision.
Benjamin S Powell
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