Virtual teams are becoming increasingly popular in today’s economy.
They provide organizations with the opportunity to save on office space, travel expenses, and other overhead costs without compromising productivity.
If you are leading a virtual team, every member needs to access online collaboration tools to work on projects together regardless of their location.
However, many different collaboration tools are available, and choosing the right one for your remote team can seem like a daunting task!
In this article, we will discuss how you should find the best collaboration software for your needs to keep your virtual team happy.
What Are Collaboration Tools?
Collaboration tools are software pieces that allow remote team members to share information, documents, and files seamlessly without any geographical restrictions placed on them by their physical location.
Collaboration software comes with many different features such as document editing, file sharing, video and voice conferencing features, instant messaging capabilities, and more.
Collaboration software can make communication more accessible in many ways (e.g., online chat rooms, document sharing, project templates). Still, it’s important not to get sucked into one specific vendor as there are many options available at any given moment.
In the following sections, we will go over how to narrow down your selection and make an informed choice about which software product is best for you.
What Are The Benefits Of Collaboration Software?
For remote teams, collaboration is crucial because it facilitates communication between people located in different places at the same time.
Using a suitable collaboration tool has many benefits for your team, including:
- Increased productivity.
- Better access to data due to improved visibility across all platforms.
- Less duplication of effort by everyone involved.
- It also eliminates geographical restrictions that might otherwise keep employees from working in different locations.
- Simplified collaboration that saves time and money.
- Increased visibility for the team due to a more open culture.
Considerations For Choosing Collaboration Tools
The best way to decide on particular software is by first understanding your team’s needs and how often they will be using it to help them work more efficiently.
It would help if you also consider whether your virtual team needs any special skills or training for them to use that specific software while you’re evaluating different vendors of collaboration tools online.
There are a few things you should take into account when looking for the best team collaboration tool suited to your needs:
- What main tasks or projects your team plans to accomplish using this online collaboration software? Do you plan to use the software to manage projects, share files and data, or communicate with others online?
- How often your team plans to use this collaboration tool? Will, it only be occasionally, or do you plan on using it daily?
- How the size and geographic dispersion of your virtual team influence your choice of collaboration tools?
- Which software features match your requirements? If you need to organize meetings or share information with others online, you will want to look for collaboration software designed specifically for these purposes.
- What is the cost of different collaboration tools against their benefits? How much does each vendor charge? Are there any additional costs involved like maintenance fees, fees based on the number of users, etc.?
- How many people can be on the same project simultaneously?
- What are other customers saying about this specific software product? Check out product reviews from other customers before making a purchase decision. What are other customers saying about this particular company’s customer service?
Figure Out The Needs Of Your Virtual Team
When choosing collaboration software, the most important thing to do is to figure out what your team needs from the tool.
- SharePointOnline/Microsoft 365 – is an ideal tool if you need your remote team members to work on documents together and share them with others outside of the company.
- Slack is a good choice if you want to chat with your team members for quick and easy conversations easily.
- GoToMeeting – is a good solution that can provide you with audio, video, and chat features when most of your collaboration needs revolve around online meetings or conference calls.
It’s also important to consider whether your team will need a compatible tool with mobile devices so they can collaborate wherever they are.
If you’ll be using the collaboration software on laptops or desktop computers, it doesn’t matter which one you choose since most of them offer apps for those devices.
If you’re not sure what type of collaboration tool would work best for your virtual team’s needs, then try different solutions before deciding which solution will be most successful. Take a look at various collaboration software reviews from customers to find the best tool for your team.
Almost all collaboration software will have a free trial or demo available. This approach is an excellent way to test out the different tools before committing your team and see which one best fits their needs without spending any money upfront.
Consider How Often You Will Use The Tool And For What Purpose
The frequency with which your remote workers need to communicate and collaborate will also influence your choice of online collaboration software.
If your team only needs to collaborate every few days on specific projects, something like Facebook groups may be the best option. But if they need to work together daily, it might make more sense to sign up with Slack or Chatter.
But online collaboration tools are best suited for more frequent interactions. If you work with your team daily, such as on sales calls or project reviews, using an external collaboration tool could be helpful.
These software packages use internet-based storage to keep all of the files associated with the project in one location and allow participants to interact by sharing changes, commenting on them and attaching notes or other documents at specific points throughout a form.
With these tools, everyone is working with up-to-date information instead of emailing attachments back and forth, leading to confusion.
The most important factors when choosing this kind of solution will depend on any quirks in how you want it set up but will most likely depend on the size of your company and how often you want to update documents.
For instance, some collaboration tools require a monthly subscription for business or enterprise use, whereas others may offer an option where you can pay per document edited.
Virtual Team Size and Geographic Dispersion
The best collaboration tool for your virtual team will depend on the size of the group and how often they need to communicate. If your team members are all in the same office, they may not need a collaboration tool at all.
If you have an entire organization that needs to work together online, Yammer would be a suitable tool for facilitating teamwork and making it easy to communicate with each other from anywhere.
When your team members are around the world, this tool will make it easy for them to share news, file updates, and other information with the rest of your team.
Best collaboration options for small remote teams
For smaller remote workforces, cloud-based software is often a good option. This kind of software offers many of the same benefits as an enterprise-grade solution but at a lower cost.
One option for small teams is to use a cloud-based platform like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). These tools make it easy for team members to share files and communicate online with low setup costs. But they require people to be on the same platform to collaborate, which may not always be possible depending on individual work arrangements.
If you are looking for software that is easy to use and low cost, consider using a tool like Zoho Docs. This tool offers online collaboration on documents with real-time editing features. It also allows users to do other tasks such as scheduling meetings together or creating surveys, which can be helpful if your team needs these functions but doesn’t want to pay for expensive software.
One of the best online collaboration tools is Slack, a tool your entire team may use and does not require any training or special skills. It also has excellent features such as shared projects, channels where you can discuss topics together, and integrations with other apps like Google Drive or Twitter, so it’s easy to find and share content.
A word processing program such as Microsoft Word can also provide some basic online collaboration features that you might need when working on documents together remotely.
For example, it’s not always easy to see every revision in a document through email attachments. This feature allows multiple users to edit the same file at once without overwriting any changes made by another user until everyone has approved their contribution.
Best collaboration tools for large remote teams
For teams of ten or more, online collaboration software can provide several benefits. These systems make it easy to share large files and hold meetings from anywhere globally without additional hardware costs.
The best options for larger virtual teams are enterprise-grade solutions like Microsoft Exchange Server, designed to withstand many users accessing data at once. Smaller groups would be better suited to more lightweight options like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Dozens of vendors provide collaborative solutions for businesses and enterprises, including Microsoft SharePoint Server, Jive Software Inc., IBM LotusLive Engage – Connections Cloud Edition (formerly IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Presence), Google Workspace Marketplace, Box.net, Citrix Sharefile, and more.
Look For Collaboration Tools Features That Match Your Requirements
Figuring out the needs of your virtual team are will help you find a collaboration tool that best suits those specific needs.
Suppose some members of your team are tasked with managing tasks. In that case, others need to share documents in real-time and update project status reports. Then an online collaboration tool would suit these requirements better than a software product geared more towards chatting or being used as part of another platform.
Suppose it’s important for all members of your virtual team to have access to each other’s contact information at any given moment. In that case, this too should factor into which type of software you ultimately decide upon.
Most important collaboration software features for a virtual team
- File sharing/Document management: If you need to share documents, photos, or other files, consider the different file formats your team will use.
- Chatting and instant messaging: Chat features would help keep everyone on the same page during conversations.
- Group calendaring: A collaborative scheduling tool is best for those looking for something with more advanced functionality than simple task management tools offer.
- Intuitive project/task management: Depending on how your team works, you may be looking for something with a more robust task manager.
- Customizable dashboard: If you work best with a visual dashboard, consider the customization level offered by different collaboration tools.
- Real-time reporting: If you need to monitor and report on information in real-time, such as sales or website data, then look for this feature.
- Collaborative document editing: Remember that not all documents are created equal – some require more collaboration than others.
- Social media integration: A social media integration would enable your team to stay connected even when they’re away from their screens.
- API/SDK support: For those who develop software products themselves, API (Application Programming Interface) and SDK (Software Development Kit) support might be necessary for integrating them into your project management tool.
- Time tracking, not just time logging: Time tracking is different from time logging. If you need to break down your work hours into specific tasks, then a tool with this feature will enable that functionality.
- Integration: Look for collaboration software providers who offer different integration options.
- Linguistic flexibility: Software vendors often have the option of providing their products in multiple languages.
- Customization: You should look for features that control how certain aspects of the discussions are displayed or handled. These features would include privacy controls, access permissions, and other settings like notifications- all things that can make using the platform more productive and manageable for teams working on complex projects together.
- Collaborative editing tools (e.g., Google Docs)
- Collaborative drawing tools (e.g., Drawboard)
- Interactive whiteboarding tools (e.g., Easel)
- VoIP Tools: Some collaboration and communication software providers offer VoIP integration as well, which can be helpful for teams that communicate with one another in real-time via video or voice chat during meetings
Ease Of Use And Special Skills Or Training Requirements
Some collaboration tools require a certain amount of training or previous experience to use. If you’re looking for an affordable, easy-to-use alternative to these options, then consider chat apps like Slack or Asana.
Tools like Slack and Asana are great choices because they’re easy to use without requiring any training or special skills — plus, there’s no need to download any software.
A good rule of thumb is that the more features your team needs and will regularly use – such as real-time video conferencing – the higher the cost should be in terms of what’s required by every member who participates in meetings via that tool.
Evaluate The Cost Of Different Collaboration Tools Against Their Benefits
How to compare the cost of different collaboration tools?
Price is an essential factor when determining which collaboration tool best suits a team’s needs. However, the benefits of each software – such as how easy it is to use, its features, integrations with other systems (such as project management or email), customer service availability – should also be evaluated before making your final purchase decision.
Collaboration software is a great way to get work done efficiently in teams, no matter their location. Still, it’s essential not to choose one based on cost alone, as this could lead you to get stuck with sub-par performance or features that make productivity harder rather than easier.
Check-Out Collaboration Tools Reviews From Other Customers
You can check out reviews of collaboration software by reading what other customers have said about the product.
You may read reviews on websites such as Capterra, Gartner Group, or Software Advice. It is also recommended to see if any blogs cover the topic and reference them in your review session.
Select A Vendor With Good Customer Service
A vendor with excellent customer service usually helps you and answers all your questions related to their products. It responds quickly (within a day) to requests made via email or phone call. When possible, it offers live chat options, is quick at solving bugs that arise from time to time, and generally provides reliable responses.
When looking for a vendor of online collaboration tools with good customer service, it’s crucial to stay away from those that offer limited phone or email support. You want to have a company you can turn to for any issues when they arise, making sure the one you select offers 24/7 availability before signing up.
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Collaboration tools can help you and your team works together more efficiently.
Which of these collaboration tools have you used in the past? How did the experience go for you?
What are some features that would be helpful to add or improve upon with any future collaborative software? Hence, it better meets your needs as a business owner in today’s digital landscape? Let us know!
We look forward to hearing from you about how we can best support your virtual team by providing invaluable insights into which collaboration tool will give maximum value for your online success!