Collaborative software alternatively known as groupware refers to a “range of applications designed to allow multiple users to collaborate on related tasks on local or remote servers.” In simple terms, collaborative software is any online platform that allows 2 or more people to work together for a common goal.
As a company or organization expands to a regional, national or even multinational level, collaboration between amongst the dispersed employees becomes a challenge. The distance means that individual employees aren’t always in a position to physically present themselves whenever they are required to do so. But since work has to go on, a mechanism is developed where workers can communicate and collaborate beyond the geographical barrier.
How does groupware help?
· Data is stored in a central location
A successful implementation of groupware requires that data is placed in a centralized location. Every user should be able to access this data location with utmost ease. Typically, the management retains the master copy of the data. A user can request for access to the data store and work on/with the data. However, if the user makes any modifications to any set of data, he/she has to inform the management of such changes before signing off. This way, an incoming user is informed of the changes and doesn’t have to waste time doing duplicate work.
· Instant communication
Collaborative software is also known for fast communication tools. These include web conferencing, Instant Messaging, E-Mail, Intranets, Extra-nets, discussion threads, and forums among others. These tools enable members to stay on the same page at all times. Intranets and extra-nets are largely used to send chunks of data while emails could do for simple messages. Forums, discussion threads and instant messages are used where continuous engagement is required. For more holistic discussions, web conferences could be used. Group calendars and workflow management are also used.
· Problem solving made easier
Perhaps the greatest strength of groupware lies in its problem solving capabilities. Collaborative software implementation allows group members to work only on relevant, up-to-date data. The software provides users with the latest version of the shared data. A user is straight away led to the starting point (probably the point where you stopped during your last session.)
Software collaboration has become invaluable in the modern world. It’s a great way to cut on costs within the organization. They could be a little pricy but they greatly save on staffing costs, hardware maintenance and license fees. A company also saves on trainings in terms of time, material and travel costs.