Emails are great communication tools but are quickly becoming old-school, especially when it comes to effective collaboration between team members.
The steady rise of remote work situations has continued to increase the demand for team software. With the right collaboration tools, teams can work seamlessly, track changes effortlessly, and share ideas quickly, even if they are half-way across the globe from each other.
Here are quick tips to know before you choose from the plethora of team tools available.
Evaluate Your Team’s Working Model
First, you need to figure out how your team handles projects before deciding on the right digital collaboration tool.
Do you mostly deal with unstructured tasks (last-minute opportunities, ad hoc tasks, and assignments) or lean heavily toward structured tasks (standardized workflows and regular projects)?
Once you’ve established a regular work pattern, you can begin to shop for team software that meets your objectives and gives room for improvement. Generally, most companies (both large and small) want team collaboration tools that will:
- Increase their team’s productivity
- Integrate with other existing tools
- Standardize workflow
- Generate reports
- Improve communication between sub-teams and individuals
- Allow for easy creation and editing of shared documents
These are good objectives, but they are rather vague. Here’s exactly what you should be scouting for when deciding on the type of software that will increase your team’s velocity.
What to Look for When Choosing Team Software
Team software that doesn’t provide real-time collaboration is likely to create more problems than it solves.
Try to picture the level of chaos that could happen if different team members simultaneously work on a document without real-time collaboration. That would result in a colossal waste of time and resources.
Choosing a tool that offers real-time collaboration will ensure that everyone on the team is up to speed with the most recent project changes. Besides, all team members can have access to the same document or file at the same time without causing confusion.
Number of Users
You want to find out how many people can use the team software before investing in it. What is your team’s size, and how many people do you want to give access to?
If you currently have a small team or you want a tool that grants access to only a few people, think about how your needs might grow over time. A digital collaborative tool that allows you to upgrade or increase the number of users at a later time may be a better choice. It will save you the costs and hassles of getting a more comprehensive option down the line when the need eventually arises.
Teams are made up of different levels of authority, with each member playing a different role. It is a good practice to choose collaborative tools that reflect these levels. This allows for greater control over what each team member can access and do on a project.
For example, you may want one or a few people to add new users, one person to overwrite changes, and another to lock-in the final version of a project. Each of these tasks requires different levels of authorization, putting the entire collaborative process under greater control.
A porous system is definitely a no-no. Make sure that any team software you choose does not expose your system to malware or hackers. Keep in mind that security breaches during collaboration are caused by individuals on the team or people working in an organization in many cases.
Look for software programs that offer robust security. You definitely don’t want to put a lot of effort into building a safe system and then risk exposing it via poorly developed tools.
Easy File Share
This is non-negotiable when it comes to choosing team software. File sharing is a crucial part of any collaboration, and your team should be able to do this automatically when a new file is created without even thinking about it.
Regardless of whether you choose a cloud service or some other program to handle this vital aspect, you need to make sure that your preferred tool can handle the different file types your team creates.
In the same way that real-time collaboration is essential, you also need to choose software that can track comments and changes on a shared project. Make sure the tool offers the type of tracking approach that will keep everyone on the same page.
If each member working on the same project can see what others are saying or have said as well as what they have done, it will be a lot easier to harmonize the team’s effort and know exactly where each person stands.
Conversely, your team will run into problems down the line if the software doesn’t allow people to track comments and changes easily. If it is difficult to keep track of what others are doing and saying, the result would be nothing short of a disorder.
Another feature you could look for in a good team collaboration tool is the ability to schedule tasks. This is particularly useful when you need everyone on the team to know what they are expected to do and what projects and jobs are up next.
If you have a rather complex project with seemingly moving targets, scheduling tasks quickly will save the entire project from going south or delaying workflow.
Ease of Use
Lastly, but of utmost importance, you want to choose team software with a less steep learning curve.
You might lose valuable time if you get a team tool that requires users to go through rigorous training sessions. Getting everyone trained to use a new tool is usually not a walk in the park. For this reason, consider investing in a robust but easy-to-use team tool.
Collaborative tools that integrate easily with existing systems and options with an intuitive interface will go a long way to make teamwork a lot easier and more fun.