Why Web Collaboration? Evaluating Web Collaboration Tools So They Suit the Way You Work

Online_Collaboration_suitableThe era of web collaboration has arrived! Using a variety of online tools for tracking tasks and communicating with fellow team members and clients is becoming the natural choice for business owners.

Thinking in terms of online news feeds is no longer a novelty: a child learns to do it with the help of numerous social networks, almost at the same time as learning to read and write.

To adults it is part of everyday life. So it’s no wonder that people find it natural to use web collaboration tools built largely upon the same principle. Nowadays, most people wonder how they ever existed so long without the Internet, so it is a natural step for more projects to be handled using online software.

In his “Rethinking Work” article Jonathan Follett talks about our fantastic time –  when business partners from different parts of the globe can meet just once in several months, but still collaborate successfully throughout. He doesn’t talk in-depth about the role of web collaboration tools in this new business model – but only because it’s obvious from the start that without them it wouldn’t work. He does talk about the older models of business and management though, and does mention that they are out-of-date.

TJ Keitt, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, says: Cloud-based collaboration tools give enterprises valuable advantages, but vendors must step up now to answer some key questions on security and integration. Those questions are:

  1. Are these services enterprise-ready?
  2. How secure are these services?
  3. Do these services integrate into my environment?
  4. Are these vendors even committed to online services?
Email is no longer Enough

Emails are scattered among dozens of personal mailboxes. Web collaboration tools have become sophisticated and flexible enough to do the job that email does, plus much more. An online tracker – or a shared document – will give the project manager a clear idea of what is happening with each and every task, its history, the problems that occurred in the course of its implementation and even the strain in the relations between the team members, if any.

Companies not using web collaboration software often have to CC each and every email to at least ten people; and company reports have to be compiled by collecting numerous Excel spreadsheets from many different sources, for instance. While there are just ten employees on the books this system might work, but if you have fifty, it’s woefully inefficient. A good web collaboration tool will auto-generate any report you need within seconds.

Distributed Teams

Working from home is a common thing now too. Teams of employees all working from home has allowed the boss to ditch the office in many cases, making important cost-savings. In this case web collaboration software becomes the best answer. Emails and Skype play their roles too, but without a proper task tracker nobody will be able to sum all the processes up and get a clear picture of what is going on with one project or another.

Evaluating Web Collaboration Tools

It’s usually unwise to go against the dominating worldwide trends, and businesses that assume the new model earlier will benefit from it quicker…but not before they carefully evaluate which web collaboration tools suit their purposes and best fit with the way they work. How can a business do that effectively and ensure they get the right one? Evaluating web collaboration tools is not so straightforward. While big enterprises might have strict requirements to the tool, freelancers may have a complete different point of view. And it’s no surprise they will choose different web collaboration software, not because some of them are god or bad, but because they are suitable for different needs.

According to GigaOm.com, the trouble with evaluating web collaboration for small businesses is that SMBs differ in their needs. For a small business the choice of professional web collaboration tools that are a good fit for how it’s teams go about their work becomes crucial; standard solutions provided by Google and others may not be exactly suitable. Also large organisations like Google cater to the numbers and are far less likely to listen and respond to your specific requirements than a small, but dedicated company that works with you directly.

The only true way to see if specific web collaboration tools work for you is to try them out on a real project and assess feedback from your team. Still haven’t tried any web collaboration? Now, perhaps, it’s time to start with Kanbanchi?

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