10 Compelling Reasons to Join the Collaboration Tools Uptrend
The use of collaboration software is not just another fleeting trend that will go out of style when something better comes along in coming years. Oh, no. On the contrary, collaboration and organizational management software is the fast-pass that enables your business to advance to the front of the line in the race we call business. Although at first they were ‘nice to have,' these collaboration tools have become indispensable and invaluable for reaching organizational goals, lest you fall off of the ride and be trampled by competitors.
A Brief History of Collaboration Software - and Why It's at Its Best Now
Collaboration software has modern origins in the 1940's when Vannevar Bush foresaw the invention of the computer, a machine that can store records and communication, similar to the human brain.
Fast forward in 1968, Dr. J.C. R. Licklider, head of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), wrote in an article, "The Computer as a Communication Device" where he saw the need to facilitate communication even without meeting face-to-face.
With the advent of the internet and the eventual birth of office automation through Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES), surveys, threaded replies, and a group-structured approach were started, a clear sign of emerging collaboration tools.
More than a decade later, computer systems called the ‘groupware' programs that support the work of a group of people, came into being. A few years later, Computer-Supported Collaborative Work enabled computer networking.
One thing led to another, and computer systems designed to facilitate group work evolved into what we know as the collaborative software of today.
As companies become more technology-driven and adapt to the emerging needs of its workforce, and as the need to work together as a team becomes increasingly tied to improving performance, the challenges have to be met with simplified but comprehensive collaboration systems.
This is the reason why the use of collaboration tools is on the rise.
Here are some eye-opening statistics concerning the need for more collaboration
39% of millennials believe that their organization does not collaborate enough (source)
Three out of four employees consider teamwork and collaboration as “very important”
86% of managers look at an employee’s teamwork and collaboration skills when considering them for promotion
86% of employees believed that lack of collaboration is the reason for workplace failures.
99.1% prefer to have a common workplace where they can discuss issues effectively and truthfully
Collaboration is essential to knowledge workers - 98% of connected employees collaborate - 94% say collaboration is important
Technology is necessary for effective collaboration - 83% of workers depend on technology to collaborate - 82% would be impacted by the loss of collaboration technology (source)
These numbers tell us two things: the need to effectively collaborate using technology is only increasing, and those who fail to adapt will get left behind. Historians don’t talk about the projects that failed or the structures that were never built; the projects that succeeded have utilized robust tools that were instrumental in their completion.
Collaboration, then, gives businesses a good competitive advantage as it engages existing talents, attracts new talent, and fosters a healthy work culture that will naturally align with a company's mission. Employees who see that there is teamwork and a level playing field feel that their ideas and efforts do matter.
Collaboration in the form of strong project management also has the following benefits:
1. Levels up internal communication.
With a collaborative platform, teams have a way to communicate efficiently. Threads of messages can be dedicated to a certain project only, unlike traditional emails wherein a trail of messages can easily become a mix of confusing topics.
Those who depend on emails alone often get lost searching for a correspondence in an inbox that has at least 1000 unread messages from the past two months, resulting in frustration and wasted time.
Emails don’t show the inter-relatedness of tasks as well as changes in real-time as easily as chat tools. It is also difficult to consolidate feedback when only using email.
Another key benefit of project management is the ability to disseminate information. When your business thrives on a constant and uninterrupted flow of information, such as when undergoing an organizational change, a collaborative platform can prove to be highly beneficial.
Messages are delivered to specific teams, without having to type individual email addresses. This kind of communication efficiency saves time, which can be spent to perform more productive activities.
2. Enables remote work and progress- tracking
As mentioned above, the needs of organizations are becoming increasingly complex as organizations work across different time zones and departments. A collaboration software, like those of SaaS, can help unify dispersed teams by enabling them to work collectively from any geographical location. Project leaders can also see the team’s accomplishments in real-time.
3. Enables organized and centralized file-sharing
Working on the same project may involve intricate file-sharing in which several people work on the same document.
Unlike using traditional emails to toss documents around for editing and approval, and leaving the rest up to chance, a collaboration software will serve as a knowledge portal that enables a team to work on a document and track its changes or versions.
Such a file-sharing portal has a multi-purpose function and can be utilized to share knowledge with new hires; for example, bits of learning, called microlearning, can be introduced through this platform.
All managers have to do is upload a series of knowledge enhancing modules for employees to review at their own pace.
Microlearning even beats seminars that are heavy laden with things to learn, wherein employees tend to feel overwhelmed and forget the information shortly after learning it.
4. Makes reporting easier
When reporting season is near, it can add extra stress on your organization if data is incomplete and paperwork is missing.
It may be the case that a co-worker holds the missing piece of a critical report and not even know it - a common problem that occurs when an organization doesn’t use a collaboration platform.
Leaders who are pressed for time cannot make pertinent decisions without relevant information. When a collaboration platform is available to all teams, however, it is easy to collate and aggregate data for report generation.
Most modern software technologies include features that can automatically make reports with summaries and charts based upon the entered information.
This automation can help workers stay focused on more essential tasks, instead of manually entering data into spreadsheets and slides. It can also reduce reporting-season stress.
A collaboration tool also reduces the need for face-to-face meetings when the agenda includes changes, updates, and reports. When using a collaboration platform, organizations not only save time, but they also reduce overhead expenses for meetings.
5. Collaboration Drives Workplace Performance
Research shows that just the idea of collaborating on a project is enough to catapult employees into action and make them stay with their tasks 64% longer than their co-workers who fly solo.
A similar study proves that organizations that encourage collaboration within their companies become five times likely to be high-performing.
A collaboration tool makes remote brainstorming possible as it allows coordination among team members without the need to meet in person. Many collaboration tools accommodate ‘brain dumps’, leaving the need for frequent talks or meetings aside, enabling the team to develop a plan from all the best ideas resulting from the brain dump.
As a result, teams can more easily put quality plans into action that can pivot when managers inform the team of changes. The platform then provides a vehicle to track these changes over time while simultaneously highlighting the important action items.
A collaboration software also enables managers to track employee progress which can bring about more objectivity into the organization’s metrics. And with a feedback mechanism in place, every team member is involved and not left out. The platform levels the playing field and gives each one equal opportunity to contribute to a task.
6. Breaks down silos
Silo mentality in organizations may be an unfortunate result of power struggles [intentional] or lack of clear communication [non-intentional], deterring an organization from success.
When an organization finds itself in a silo mentality, relevant information and data are kept hidden or limited to a few people rather than being widely disseminated and used to establish best practices. Bad decisions often result, leading to more inefficiencies and lost opportunities.
What collaboration software can also do is create transparency within organizations. It levels the hierarchy because all ideas are kept in one place, creating an equal opportunity to be reviewed and considered by all, from the higher-ups to the newcomers.
A collaboration tool creates visibility and more free-flowing information for both stakeholders and decision-makers.
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7. Speeds up and systematizes decision-making, troubleshooting, problem-solving.
Collaboration isn’t only about planning and implementing, it also involves making sound decisions when pressed for time. It is about knowing where and why a project is failing, moving at a snail-paced, or remains unfinished past the deadline.
In such situations, a collaborative platform can provide insight into the gaps in a project while showing the supporting data without having to dig around in search of answers. It can enable creating a task force to tackle problems and start rectification with all the data at hand.
8. Usually has scheduling and calendar features
When there are a lot of happenings and events within an organization, it is easy to lose track of important events, meetings, and deadlines.
Collaborative platforms with additional event-tracking and calendar features help ensure that members are informed of upcoming get-togethers or project submission deadlines in a timely manner.
They can also be utilized to encourage employees to be present and involved in important assemblies
9. Drives engagement
The collaboration-engagement connection is a strong and proven concept. The elements that drive engagement - how a team member feel about their tasks, how they feel about the management and their colleagues - are all impacted by the way the work culture values collaboration.
It’s hard to feel engaged if team members do things without involving the rest of the team. Without teamwork, there is often an overwhelming sense that a project is going nowhere or is destined to be doomed - and that sense frequently proves valid.
The frustration in this kind of environment kills motivation and curtails great ideas - it’s simply harder to enjoy work and contribute.
On the other hand, working together and achieving goals as a team fosters engagement. With all the benefits of a collaboration software, employees feel involved, energized, and motivated.
With a history that started almost eight decades ago, collaboration software are not a fleeting fancy or a temporary trend that businesses can operate without in the modern era.
These tools are a necessary and a powerful instrument that gives an organization the upper hand and competitive advantage to win against odds and challenges. It is a platform that provides a company opportunity for growth, if only it chooses the right software to use.