What are the different types of collaboration tools? (+5 features)
In this post, we shall be looking at the different types of collaboration tools that are commonly used in organizations. We shall also be describing the various features and the different dimensions of these tools. Lastly, we shall discuss the importance of using these collaboration tools in any organization.
What are the different types of collaboration tools?
The different types of collaboration tools are explained in detail below:
Instant messaging tools
Instant-messaging tools can be used by team members to send messages to one another and interact, even if they are not physically in the same place. These tools enable team members to have one-on-one conversations or even send a group message, targeting a bigger audience. Instant messaging tools can be used both synchronously as well as asynchronously.
File-sharing or document-sharing tools are used by team members to share information with each other. With the help of these tools, team members can save a lot of time looking for files in repositories. These tools further the productivity of the team by providing quick and easy access to information.
Video-conferencing tools are used by team members to communicate with each other in a much more effective manner. Since these tools enable the participants to see each other face-to-face, they can improve the efficiency of remote working in the organization. Video-conferencing tools can also be used to attend or host meetings with employees located in different places.
Cloud storage tools
Cloud storage technology helps the organization store away all its information in the cloud storage system. Though this may seem strange or unsafe, it is highly popular to its great security benefits. Cloud technology uses security features like two-step authentications and end-to-end encryption for the purpose of reducing security breaches and data leaks.
Document synchronization tools
Documents ( might undergo several changes and edits at the hands of several individuals before the final versions are created. Sending these edited versions through email can lead to flooded inboxes. Through document synchronization tools, edits can happen in all directories simultaneously, thus bringing employees the latest updated version of the document.
Shared calendar tools
Shared calendars allow team members to notify each other of meetings, discussions, calls, appointments or any other work events. Through these tools, many phone calls to check the availability of the person can be cut short. Shared calendar tools can also be set up to automatically notify of upcoming events, thus promoting attendance.
Project management tools
Project management tools have a wide variety of features that can allow teams to communicate, share files, assign tasks, track the progress of the project and also easily share information with others. Many organizations only use an efficient project management tool for their collaborative needs and requirements.
Creating a team wiki can help in accessing the required information to complete the task. The wiki can also be edited and updated by different team members so that everyone is on the same page. Having an easily accessible database through which information can be easily gathered, effectively promotes productivity in the organization.
Enterprise Social Networks (ESN)
These networks follow the models of social media in order to improve collaboration in the organization. These networks greatly improve the efficiency and productivity of the teams by providing easy access to information, resources and also professionals in other levels and departments of the organization.
Task management tools
Task management tools can be used to improve both individual and team productivity. A list of tasks to be completed can be created and the progress can be tracked. The tool can also help in setting deadlines for the tasks and highlighting those which are high priority. The list can also be easily shared with the team so that everyone is aware of the progress.
These tools can be used to take down noted during meetings or team discussions. They also have features that allow the proper organizing of the information in the notes. In addition to this, they can also be easily shared with others who might require the information.
Features of collaboration tools
Collaboration tools or collaboration technology that are used by large organizations, usually have some common salient features. These are described as follows:
- They have a virtual workspace which all employees can access and work in
- They have features for chatting or discussing between team members
- They allow file sharing between employees
- They can be easily integrated with other apps or technologies
- They also allow customization of dashboards for individual employees
Dimensions of collaboration tools
Collaboration tools work on two different dimensions, and they are:
Synchronous collaboration is called real-time collaboration. This means the participants in the collaborative process are working at the same time. Through synchronous collaboration, there is no time spent waiting for messages and responses are immediate. And thus, this type of collaboration is highly preferred when it comes to urgent requirements.
A few examples of synchronous collaborative tools are chat apps and VoIP calling. While synchronous collaboration can bring immediate responses, it also has several disadvantages. This type of collaboration might be difficult to handle if there are a large number of participants. It may also not allow proper documentation and thus can be an obstacle for cross-referencing.
Asynchronous collaboration, on the other hand, conducts collaboration in non-real time. Thus, the interactions and communication between the employees might not be so immediate. The participants might have to wait for indefinite periods of time in between messages. Through asynchronous collaboration, team members can sort their thoughts before they relate them.
Examples of asynchronous collaboration tools are e-mail, document sharing tools and even some whiteboard apps. Even though asynchronous collaboration has its advantages, it still poses many challenges for a team. There might be long delays between responses and can lead to disruptions in the collaboration process itself.
Importance of using collaboration tools
Collaboration tools carry a lot of importance and advantages for teams and organizations. Some of the important benefits of using collaboration tools are:
- Collaboration tools help in making the communication process smoother and clearer between team members
- They can also team members who are located in different parts of the world to collaborate and interact with one another
- They help in increasing the efficiency and productivity of remote-working
- They save the organization a lot of money that goes into travel
- They also cut the cost of working together in the same location
- Collaboration tools are known to boost individual productivity
- They can encourage even shy or introverted employees to voice their opinions and give new ideas
- Collaboration tools allow easy access to information and data across various levels in the organization
- They can be highly useful for cross-functional collaboration
- The use of collaboration tools can contribute to a flatter organizational structure
In this post, we have looked at the different types of collaboration tools that are commonly used in organizations. We have also described the various features and the different dimensions of these tools. Finally, we have discussed the importance of using these collaboration tools in any organization.
Frequently asked questions: (What are the different types of collaboration tools?)
What are the 4 types of collaboration?
Collaboration is of mainly 4 different types in an organization. These different types are as follows:
In open collaboration, a large number of individuals work together for the purpose of generating ideas or giving feedback about a particular issue. The participants in this collaboration can be both from within the organization as well as outside it. The collaboration process itself, however, might not be that intimate and can be for a shorter-period of time.
In this type of collaboration, the members are restricted to a few and need to have specialized skills or qualifications to be a part of the team. Closed collaborations are held with the purpose of making important decisions or solving a specific problem. These collaborative relationships are intimate and require high confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of the information.
Internal collaboration basically refers to any kind of collaboration that occurs inside an organization. It can refer to team collaboration within a department or even cross-functional collaboration. These collaborations occur under a proper and a strong sense of purpose. And thus, the team members are strongly united and interact closely with each other.
External collaboration, on the other hand, refers to an organization collaborating with individuals or groups outside of it. This can be for a variety of purposes, such as training and development, sharing of tools and resources, business expansion and even building brand awareness. It is through external collaborations that organizations grow and create large impacts.
What steps can you take to make collaboration successful?
Effective collaboration takes time and effort to take place in an organization. The different steps you can take in order to make collaboration successful are:
Setting a clear goal for the team
A clear goal can cut a clear path for the team to collaborate. When the team members are clear about the goals of the project, they are aware of the work processes and tasks that need to be completed. They are also aware of the individual responsibilities they need to fulfill for the team to accomplish the shared goal.
Practicing open communication
Open communication between the team members is essential for communication. Leaders and managers need to encourage this by practicing open communication themselves. When there is an open mind-set in the team, it can improve transparency and encourage honesty from the individual team members.
Encouraging healthy discussions
Healthy discussions can greatly promote collaboration by using and capitalizing individual strengths and talents. When team members deeply discuss and debate a topic, there might even be constructive conflicts. These can be used to generate new ideas and come up with multiple solutions which the organization can use.
Focusing on the bigger picture
To encourage team members to collaborate effectively with each other, the team has to focus on the bigger picture of the project. If team members are not convinced about the use and impact of the project, they might not participate intensely in the collaboration. Thus, leaders need to promote the goal of the project and make it meaningful and relatable to them.
Nothing beats a solid one-on-one interaction. Even though collaboration requires the entire team to work together and be on the same page, leaders need to take time to interact with the team members personally. This can create opportunities to build healthy relationships and giving as well as take valuable feedback.
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