Collaboration has a lot of benefits, but two stand out: innovation and timely delivery. Innovation is when many minds are working together to ensure products and services are developed with more creativity. Also, because there are more people working on a project, it stands to reason it will be done early (or, at the very least, on-time). Businesses everywhere are leveraging the collaboration tools that are improving teamwork, so to keep up with the rapidly changing marketplace, you should leverage all available solutions and keep your business competitive.
1. Private Instant Messaging Tool
An internal instant messenger has a lot of benefits. Your employees can communicate instantly without making a phone call or sending an email, both of which take a bit more time and effort. It’s also an effective way to ensure productivity because employees can remain at their desks even when working on collaborative projects. When considering an application for instant messaging, it’s important to put the focus on security. Look for a system with strong encryption, such as an enterprise instant messenger, which allows for secure corporate messaging across multiple platforms.
2. Task and Workflow Management Tools
Task and project management tools are incredibly useful. Like an instant messenger, it ensures your teams can communicate without leaving their desks. It’s also a single interface for tasks, to-do lists, appointment reminders, and more. The Center for Technology in Government defines workflow as “the movement of documents and tasks through a business process.” It’s with these tools that you can store pictures, video, objectives and more. Everything can be changed in real-time, so there’s real-time collaboration happening no matter the hour or who’s in the room.
3. Real-Time Management Feedback Tools
Before launching a beta or submitting a proposal, why not have management or a trusted colleague take a look at the project? Much like a teacher’s marking pen, feedback tools allow others to make comments about an ongoing or finished project. Many work in real-time, so developers can integrate changes and update the project, offering the feedback-giver another opportunity to review the project. Once all parties are in agreement, the project can then be submitted to a client or beta testers for review.
Remember: Feedback is critical to improving projects. The Huffington Post reports that feedback “unlocks change and innovation,” as well as it “increases growth and happiness for both sides.
4. Drawing and Visual Boards
If you’re in the business of graphics or have a marketing department that uses graphic design for promotional materials, your business can benefit from creative tools. There are drag-and-drop network-connected boards that update in real-time with media and drawing files. These boards are great for brainstorming, especially when it comes to building a theme or choosing a color scheme. Often, these boards can be connected to tablets and smart phones and work a bit like Pinterest; or, just use a private board on Pinterest for similar brainstorming.
5. Group Video Chat Apps
Video conferencing means your employees can be virtually anywhere and still attend an important meeting. Typically, these applications allow you to conference with up to 12 people. What’s better is some even allow you to record the video chat for transcribing later, which means no one has to take notes. Freemake.com has a list of 5 free video chat applications for groups up to 12, but keep in mind that free versions may not be as safe as something you’ve purchased.
When it comes to collaboration, tools can be very beneficial; however, they’re not going to do much good if communication isn’t effective. As a final piece of advice, remember to provide team members with project details before they begin and communicate all your expectations. Be open to suggestions, and always encourage your employees to speak up with new ideas, questions, and concerns.