Is your company making use of online collaboration?
Nowadays, there’s no shortage of online collaboration tools for businesses to use.
In fact, you could even say that there’s too many.
In the digital age, online collaboration tools can be a very effective and cost-efficient way of improving the teamwork and communication among your employees. This can lead to higher overall productivity and efficiency. They also allow for teammates in different locations to work with each other remotely. This is an increasingly important feature for large multinational companies and small businesses alike. MNC’s will often have employees from different regions collaborating on certain projects, while small businesses also benefit greatly from this feature as it allows employees within your company to easily collaborate with partners and clients working from outside the firm.
Collaboration tools are also known as project management software. The core feature of many of these tools is that they provide a central online location for documents, team calendars and ongoing project information so that it can be easily accessed and worked on by multiple team members at the same time. This can help employees communicate more effectively. It also makes it easier for management to keep track of project progress by keeping an eye on the virtual work environment provided by these collaboration tools.
Some collaboration tools provide more advanced features to assist with team projects. This could include features such as the ability to create project timelines, personalized to do lists for team members and resource reports.
Good online collaboration tools are easily accessible and have intuitive interfaces that run smoothly. They should also be easy for your workers to learn how to use and integrate into their workflow. Preferably without the need for extensive training.
It can be difficult to choose the right collaboration tool for your workplace. Attempting to integrate a collaboration tool into the workflow of all your employees can be a time-consuming process, and you don’t want to waste time and resources trying to get your employees to use a collaboration tool that doesn’t suit the needs of your company. This can be even more devastating if you’ve decided to invest in a paid collaboration tool which turns out to be detrimental to your company’s productivity. The sheer number of collaboration tools available can also make it difficult to even decide where to start.
Here is a quick rundown of some collaboration tools that are best suited for small businesses.
This might seem obvious to some, but it’s important to point out that Google’s free service can function as an extremely useful collaboration tool for a lot of businesses.
All it takes to utilize this service is a Google account. Setting up a new account can be done in less than a minute. Furthermore, Google provides plentiful free storage which should be adequate for the needs of most small businesses.
Once you’ve created your documents and sheets, collaboration is seamless and intuitive as access of each file can be easily shared to team members or external collaborators. Comments and changes can then be made by multiple people at the same time. All changes made are also visible to all users that are viewing the sheet in real time. This makes real-time remote collaboration possible to a degree that can almost rival being in the same physical space as your collaborators.
Despite the power and flexibility of Google Docs/Sheets, it does have a weakness in that it doesn’t really provide the same level of project management features that other collaboration tools do. Google Docs/Sheets is primarily for creating and working on documents and spreadsheets, but your company might require other collaboration tools with the ability to present and collaborate on other forms of media such as images or videos. Therefore, Google Docs/Sheets should be considered as just one of the primary collaboration tools that your company can use.
If you aren’t quite ready to adopt full-on project management software, Trello is an online collaboration tool that is safe and easy to introduce to your company and see whether your employees can adapt that using online collaboration.
Trello functions most simply as a digital noteboard where members of your team can post and edit “cards” to keep track of tasks and key points of information. You can have separate “boards” for different projects and departments, and the cards within each board can be updated to contain information such as deadlines and reminders for particular tasks.
To test out the collaboration among your employees try creating a board for a project and then posting cards on the board to highlight each individual task in the project. After the cards are created, team members can then post comments or attachments on each card. The comments can be used to facilitate discussion of the task or to provide updates on the status of the task. The completed task can then be attached to the card as a file for anyone on the team to access and utilize in the next step of the project. Cards can also be categorized under columns to mark the urgency and/or completion status of each task. This can also boost the effectiveness/efficiency of your team when it comes to time management and work prioritization.
Trello has a number of other features to facilitate online collaboration among your employees, but the above summarizes the most basic way that Trello can be used. The other great thing about Trello is that it’s actually free to use. This makes Trello a great starting collaboration tool for almost any business.
Try using Trello within your team and see if it catches on among your employees. Generally, your employees should be able to see an immediate benefit just from having a central location to keep track of all the tasks that are divided among the team.
Slack is another useful collaboration tool that is relatively easy for companies to try out and integrate into their workflow.
Slack has a sleek interface and its features are easy to pick up on, but it works very differently from Trello.
Where Trello can be described as a kind of virtual note board, Slack is more of a messaging program for businesses, so anyone who is already familiar with technology and social media should find it easy to understand how to use Slack.
It features paid subscriptions, but also has a perfectly functional free package that will serve most businesses just fine.
The business functionality of Slack comes from the way it allows you to create a virtual environment for your company known as a workspace. This makes it far better for collaboration among your teammates than something like Skype or Whatsapp. Each workspace allows you to send and receive messages from each team member in the workspace, allowing for team members to communicate with each other and work together without external distractions.
You can also create and name channels within the workspace so that messages can be shared among several team members at once. Another great feature is the ability to upload files to Slack and send them directly to team members. Each uploaded file is stored on your workspace. After that, it can be forwarded/shared to any of the team members on the workspace. This feature is available for free users, but it’s important to note that you’ll have limited storage space until you upgrade to the paid subscription. This means that you’ll always be able to upload new files and send them to different members of your workspace, but older files will be deleted to make room for the new files once your workspace runs out of storage.
Finally, one of the best things about Slack is the search function. This allows you to instantly search through all of your conversations and groups for files and keywords. This can be a huge help when your team is managing multiple tasks and/or projects at once.
Overall, Slack is a great collaboration tool to help employees communicate with each other directly. Slack sets itself apart by facilitating direct, instant communication between employees. Trello, on the other hand, is better for helping employees and management keep track of the overall picture of projects within the workplace. Slack is also generally better for quickly sharing files between employees.
There is a stunning amount of collaboration tools available on the internet. In this article, we’ve just given you a rundown on 3 of the most useful collaboration tools for small businesses.
These collaboration tools are great for small businesses because of their high effectiveness for facilitating better teamwork and efficiency among your employees while also being free, simple to understand and easy to use. This can help improve employee motivation and drive growth in your company.
Try integrating any of these tools into your company’s workflow and see how it benefits your employees. You could even try using a combination of all of them to suit different needs that your employees may need to cover. From there, you can start to identify what features your business requires from online collaboration tools and possibly look up other, more advanced collaboration tools that can better suit your company’s needs.
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