What makes good collaborative software?

Summary:

Collaborative tools are software applications that let people working on a common project, collaborate, communicate, and coordinate. It enables users to share information, exchange ideas, converse (through video, text, or audio), brainstorm using virtual whiteboards and mind-mapping tools, and do a lot more.

C-level executives need to be sensitized to what impact inadequate software may have on the whole company. This will result in delayed decision-making, miscommunication, a lack of clarity, a slowed flow of information, and a variety of other issues. It can also waste significant time of the executives themselves, which can be quite costly to the organization. Furthermore, it may become more difficult to achieve firm goals and aspirations, not to mention security difficulties.

Therefore, here are the features to look after while choosing your collaboration tool to be the most efficient and relevant to your organization:

  1. An intuitive and clean, user-friendly interface: in a collaborative tool, visual management features should allow users to exchange various types of content for communication. It should also be able to make projects move forward with instant reporting and information display.
  2. It should be a hub rather than a simple add-on: good collaboration software should serve as a central hub, providing a standardized platform for teams to conduct meetings, share documents, collaborate on projects, and manage file versions. 
  3. It should also foster interaction among employees: ready-to-use templates for employee involvement, active participation during conversations, shared whiteboards for brainstorming, dedicated spaces for document versioning, and other features should be offered.
  4. It should be open to all: the greatest tools are cloud-based since they allow users to access their work from any location and at any time.

With the increase in the adoption of remote work all over the world, it is becoming very common to have employees scattered across different geographical locations and time zones. While your marketer could be in Seattle, your editor might be in the Philippines, and you could even have another worker in Australia. Then, only a good collaborative software can help you bridge the distance between all your workers for a seamless work experience

But here’s the thing: plenty of collaborative tools are on the market today, and making a relevant choice for your needs is becoming harder. The thing is, if you make the wrong decision, it can affect your employees and your company at large. Some of the downsides of ineffective collaborative software include challenges with data security, lack of engagement and participation, lack of concrete ROI, and so much more. 

That’s why in this article, we’ll be providing a guideline to help managers and executives look for and choose the most relevant and complete collaborative tool for your employees and your company. 

What is considered a collaborative tool today?

Collaboration tools are software applications that are designed to facilitate teamwork, communication, and coordination among people working on a common project. Just like an online workspace, all participating individuals or groups of individuals can relate, interact, and even benefit from visual management features, even if they are not physically located in the same region. 

The difference between collaborative software tools and a simple online workspace is that collaborative tools allow users to do much more than manage projects or edit documents simultaneously: 

  • Share information;
  • Exchange ideas;
  • Communicate through video, text, or audio;
  • Brainstorm with ready-to-use methods, virtual whiteboards or mind-mapping tools,... 

In a word, this type of software allows for the most efficient collaboration between employees and executives, regardless of distance.

Now, let’s look into why so many of so-called collaborative tools can be found on the market today. 

Why are there so many collaborative tools today on the market?

A publication by Indeed in early 2023 mentions that there are over 65 collective intelligence tools in the market. While this might not sound like a lot, imagine trying to pick one tool and facing over 65 options

Which one would you pick? 

Why? 

What would be the basis of your selection? 

It would probably take you a lot of time to answer these questions.

We’ll get into that very soon, but before that, let’s talk about why there are even so many collaborative software in the first place.

There’s a rise in demand

This is the most obvious reason the supply of tools has increased. From an economic standpoint, when the demand for a certain product increases, the supply will also increase to meet the demand. But why is there a rise in the demand for collaborative tools?

  1. The conventional office model is evolving, with more C-level executive companies embracing the flexible and remote work models.
  2. There are more changes in work culture
  3. More companies need a more efficient communication and coordination strategy for their workspaces
  4. Many C-level executives are starting to recognize the unique preferences and workstyles of different teams and individuals when it comes to communication and collaboration.

Specialized requirements enforce more offers

Besides more people needing the tools, different industries and sectors have distinct collective intelligence requirements

For instance, a company involved in software development would need more tools involved with version control and code. However, when it comes to more creative teams, their requirements would center around tools for design collaboration. 

That’s namely why there are many types of tools. Each efficient collaborative tool would cater to different needs and specialized requirements

Advanced technology makes it easy to develop software applications

Once upon a time, it was rocket science to create software tools and digital platforms. 

But now, digital systems are spreading like weeds, and a person with the right skills and teams can kick off an software business. Remember the increase in demand we mentioned above? Exactly! It’s like a market that is sure to bring in profits. 

Competition for the best evokes more products

The competitive landscape in the tech industry drives innovation. As more companies develop collaborative software tools, they strive to offer unique features, better user experiences, and improved functionality to stand out in the market, hence, more products in the market. 

But as you can already tell, not all these products are great for your proper needs.

What are the effects of ineffective tools for companies?

Part of these effects was mentioned in the introduction of this article, but you need to know that companies led by top-level executives such as CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, etc. cannot make random decisions about the tools their teams will be using, because of the following reasons: 

Ineffective tools can break, which leads to a big setback

Imagine a videoconferencing tool breaking down right in the middle of an important call… It can cost a lot of money and energy to work with an inefficient tool. 

Whatever type of breakdown, it can lead to delayed decision-making, miscommunication, lack of clarity, hindered flow of information, and so much more. But luckily, an effective collaboration can save you from all of that.

Ineffective tools reduce productivity which could lead to loss 

Efficient collaboration tools are built to facilitate productivity, coordination, and collaboration

When you have to re-enter data, troubleshoot multiple times, or look for manual workarounds to certain problems, this can affect focus and productivity. 

It can also make both executives and their teams waste a lot of time, which could be very costly for the company, especially if deadlines and opportunities are missed. That’s why you need to be intentional about finding the right tool.

Ineffective tools make it more challenging to reach company goals

Every top company has daily, weekly, and monthly goals. However, reaching the goals and targets can be difficult when there is a misunderstanding with the tools, conflicting objectives, or a lack of cohesion caused by ineffective tools. 

But if you have an effective collaborative tool that allows for seamless process monitoring and employee efficiency, then company goals are easier to meet. 

So, what are the things you can do to prevent investing in the wrong one? 

What are the characteristics of the best collaborative software?

There are so many features of great collaborative software. We’re going to list out the few that are most paramount among the many.

Strong security measures

It’s almost inevitable not to share sensitive information across collaborative software. 

Things like sensitive URLs, social security numbers, location information, vendor and partner information, passwords and credentials, or financial information could be transferred via the software. So, that means you need a tool that prioritizes data protection. The few things to look for (or inquire about) include;

  1. The data encryption provision.
  2. If there is multi-factor authentication or other forms of verification.
  3. Access control to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.

Friendly UX clarity and intuitive interface

Another feature of an efficient collaboration tool is the intuitive interface and the User Experience (UX) clarity. 

Not only does a tool with a user-friendly interface require minimal training for new users to get started, but it can also significantly enhance productivity and engagement. 

Look for options to customize so that the interface matches your company’s requirements. The tool should have a responsive design that works seamlessly across multiple devices — and most of all, it should provide accessible channels for users to seek help and receive prompt support.

Top-notch operability

Operability refers to the tool's performance, reliability, and scalability

Therefore, choosing a collaborative tool with top-notch operability will ensure your team can work smoothly without disruptions. But you might not be able to find ‘operability’ from the tool’s name. So how can you tell? You’ll need to look out for a few things:

  1. The performance and loading speed, even with large, complex files.
  2. Proven track record of high uptime and reliability.
  3. Real-time editing, commenting, version history, and other features that allow collaborative work.
  4. Regular updates and maintenance.

Visual management & representation

Visual management is the procedure that uses visual elements like images, charts, or graphs to communicate information, manage processes, or track the progress of individuals or a group of individuals. 

It is great for displaying relevant information to teams or other executives to highlight problems, or communicate ideas.

But why are collaborative tools so much related to visual management? 

A report on LinkedIn shows that the majority of C-level executives use visual management to track the progress of their companies. 

Because who wants to be reading a full report when you can have all ten pages fitted into a graph? Also, it is proven that we retain information better when it is received visually than in text. 

The great news is that only good collaborative software tools can help your team achieve this effortlessly with accurate data, great security, and efficient collaboration features.

Central hub features

Another feature of great collective intelligence software is how the software enables you to centralize all your exchanges and documents

What is the point of a collaborative tool if you have to rely on secondary tools to perform some of your activities? Good collaborative software should be a central hub— a unified platform where teams can conduct meetings, share documents, collaborate on projects, and manage versions of files. 

Engagement features to encourage employee interaction

Most collective intelligence tools stop at the first two features, but if that tool does not provide features that foster team engagement, it’s not the best. 

Engagement features like ready-to-use methods and templates, activities for enhancing participation during discussions, shared whiteboards for brainstorming, quizzes or surveys for efficiently collecting the teams’ feedback, and so much more should be available. 

Accessibility

Have you heard of cross-platform compatibility? It is a very important feature of good collective intelligence software. 

If the tool cannot work seamlessly across various devices, then you might want to take a second look. The best tools are cloud-based since they allow users to access their work from any location and device, as long as there is a working internet connection.

Other features include…

  1. Great integration with other tools
  2. Real-time collaboration
  3. Communication tools
  4. Task management and tracking
  5. Can it, or can it not provide notifications
  6. Support for simultaneous editing
  7. In-depth analytics and reporting
  8. Backup and data recovery

So, are you ready to start using visual management tools? What about digital collaborative tools that’ll help push your company toward your goal? 

Klaxoon visual collaborative platform is designed for today's teamwork, with multiple tools and templates readily made available for your office activities, from brainstorming to document, visual, and product management. Ready to try it out?

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