What are collaboration tools?
Collaboration tools make decentralised and connected work possible. These digital tools support companies in very different areas in the process. They make the workflow of projects clear or allow conversations in one-to-one or group chats. The tools collect and prioritise ideas, structuring everyday work. But above all, collaboration tools support communication.
Effects of collaboration tools:
- Productivity is increased by direct communication
- Project management is made clearer
- Stress levels are reduced
- Employee satisfaction is increased
- Lower threshold for individual employees to participate in the tasks of the organisation, making more independent work possible
- Lively communication drives innovation potential
Improved teamwork: creativity in the cloud
When brainstorming, it’s always difficult to put your own perspective to one side. But if people from different specialist areas come together to work on the same problem, it drives forward the creative process. That is why connected teamwork generates the best results. Joint brainstorming on MindMeister or GroupMap makes it possible to share and collate ideas despite distance. All employees get the chance to be involved.
Collaboration tools can also be helpful when sending high-resolution images or videos, because with email you soon find inboxes fill up, and large attachments are not possible. In that case, you can simply use tools for file transfers. Large files relating to your projects can be shared via Dropbox or WeTransfer, for example. This allows colleagues all over the world to access the most important materials.
Direct communication: analogue and digital
The international consultancy RW3 CultureWizard surveyed managers for the fifth time as part of the Global Virtual Teamwork Survey. 1,620 managers from 90 countries answered the questions. 84% of those surveyed responded to the question of what type of communication they prefer by saying that virtual communication is more difficult than face to face.
As face-to-face interaction is not always possible, software like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Yammer is available. These tools allow employees to connect and exchange messages and files. Slack, Yammer and Microsoft Teams are available with a free version as standard and a premium version. The more you pay, the more features are available to you.
Some messaging services such as WhatsApp, Threema and Facebook Messenger also offer a business version of their services. These generally also include the possibility of transferring files. Some messaging services also allow the integration of other tools so the user can configure a customised interface.
Transparent project management with collaboration tools
For organisational tasks, it is particularly important to have transparency regarding what tasks and responsibilities are assigned to whom. In the age of ‘agile project management’ and the related flexibility in particular, that is a major challenge.
All employees should also know the stages of a project. Collaboration tools can also be used to clearly present this to everyone. Transparent depiction of their aims makes employees active and gets them involved in the organisation of their tasks. This makes work more manageable, reduces stress and thus increases employee satisfaction.
How do collaboration tools improve the organisation of projects?
Tools such as Redbooth, LibrePlan and Trello support your project management. With Trello, you organise your tasks similarly to on a pinboard. All tasks and those responsible for them are clearly organised on the Trello board. You can assign tasks, comment on them and schedule them. The flexible tiles allow you to easily rearrange processes and keep an overview.
Redbooth shows the user their current to-do list and also allows project-related time recording. The progress of the project can also be recorded in this tool without difficulty.
Libre Plan primarily supports your resource planning. The presentation of workload and capacities allows you to divide tasks better and coordinate projects more easily. LibrePlan can also be used to calculate budgets and costs.
You can use Wunderlist to arrange and prioritise individual tasks. The digital list of tasks quickly brings order to everyday work.
Dare to try out different tools. Many providers offer a free basic version or a test period for their products. Once it finishes, you and your team can decide whether the new tool has proven itself and is worth purchasing.
Centralised management – decentralised work
The existence of lots of collaboration tools means lots of choice. If you don’t want to make a decision, you can either use several tools or make use of tools that include many functions. Basecamp and Asana help with communication, project management and allocating tasks. That means you can enable decentralised work and retain an overview.
Important tips – what you should be aware of:
- Free applications must make clear to what extent the provider has access to sensitive customer data.
- On cloud-based applications, the sender and recipient of data are mostly not anonymised. If data is hacked, it can lead to problems.
- Before you choose a collaboration tool, you should determine potentials. That way, costs will be appropriate for the actual effect.