As a large number of workers started working remotely after the pandemic outbreak, the demand for collaborative software tools grew by leaps and bounds. They served as powerful work management platforms for workers to coordinate remotely with their teams and helped businesses work seamlessly. As the world continues to fight the malicious virus, the collaborative software tools’ role will be crucial in ensuring the smooth working of organizations.
There are various types of collaboration software tools offering a range of features for efficient working of hybrid workforces and remote teams.
Types of Collaborative Software Tools
There are three types of collaborative software tools.
As the name suggests, communication technology allows for communication to take place between individuals and teams via the Internet, irrespective of their locations.
Some examples of communication technology are:
- Instant messaging apps
- Voicemail applications
- Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls
- Team, department, or organization-wide chat forums
Conferencing tools allow a group of individuals to communicate with each other in real-time, via the Internet or cloud-based platforms. When using these tools, the group of people connected can view a unified screen.
Based on the software used, the group members can also access, make changes and work on the unified screen – all at once.
Types of Web-conferencing tools are:
- Video conferencing – Examples: Skype, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, MSN Live Messenger
- Shared Whiteboard – Examples: Skribblar, DabbleBoard
- Virtual Classrooms
It is a holistic, collaborative tool designed to integrate both task work and teamwork functions. They allow individuals and groups to coordinate work tasks and activities while connecting interpersonally, making end-to-end workflow management simpler and more efficient.
Some examples of today’s types of coordination tools include:
- Employee time trackers or scheduling systems
- Project-management systems
- ERP software
- Internal employee as well as client portals
The Two Dimensions of Collaborative Software
There are two key operational uses or dimensions of collaborative software — synchronous and asynchronous.
Synchronous Collaborative Software
Synchronous or real-time collaborative software works in real-time, i.e. when a group of people communicates and collaborates on the same platform at once. There are no lags or delays in responses, and one can expect to receive an answer or hear a solution promptly.
Some examples of synchronous collaborative software in the workplace include chat forums, VoIP calling, instant messaging, and digital whiteboard applications.
Benefits of synchronous collaborative software:
- It is expedient and hyper-efficient.
- Users can get the feedback, files, or information they need almost instantly.
- Increases productivity of workforces.
- They lack documentation or future cross-referencing capabilities.
- These platforms can be difficult for value-driven and high-order conversations.
- These platforms can often become disorganized when large groups of people are involved.
Asynchronous Collaborative Software
Asynchronous collaborative software is not designed for instantaneous tasks or activities. A brief waiting period is involved between communications.
Some examples of asynchronous collaborative software include – email, document sharing, group calendars, and some ERP systems.
Asynchronous Software benefits:
- They allow for fresh expertise to be brought into a project.
- They are more documentable than synchronous communications.
- Users can take more time to reflect before responding.
- Long delays between interactions cause bottlenecks in the tasks and hurt team collaboration.
- Such communications are often complicated.
Different types of collaboration tools offer different features. When choosing the right tool for your organization, the most important thing you should keep in mind is the problem you need to solve and the goals you are trying to achieve.