Thursday, April 2, 2015

Collaboration Tools

Project management, idea generation and content organization is becoming an important element of general business practice in today’s information economy. There are several tools to get the job done and here we look at several different options but each has its own unique feature sets and configuration options for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises.

Project Management Meets Information Handling

Businesses need tools that will help them in their never ending quest for relevant information. Whether it is a small business with a small network, a midsize company with growing sets of data or an enterprise with both growing data and archived data, collaborative tools, apps or other software can help organizations meet the demands of handling complex or large volumes of information sufficiently. Project managers need tools that will help them enable their team or teams to work efficiently. An efficient workflow for that team might mean that they will need tools to communicate, share files, work from different locations in real time or analyze data in some way.

The cloud and big data have evolved over time together and they will continue to do so. Ensuring that your organization is employing a carefully constructed set of security policies and procedures, using cloud apps and other non-cloud or software configurations within your network (maybe a hybrid) will allow your organization to be flexible and powerful enough to grow revenues because an efficient workflow will allow you to save time, money and resources.

You may eliminate the need for paper, for one. But the real benefit for your organization is the need to improve the information handling ability. Finding content easier within a content management system (CMS) certainly helps, but finding the most relevant material and being enabled to put that content to use immediately is the real benefit.

When members of your organization are enabled to perform these tasks quicker, easier and more collaboratively, that is when the real work takes place. In fact, you will also notice more innovation, success and overall team involvement once that essential workflow is improved within your CMS and within your information governance policy (another topic discussed within this blog and website). Project managers will be happy. Those working on the project will be happy. All other stakeholders will be happy with the results you can now bring to the table.

The Right Collaboration Tools and Solutions for the Job

As previously mentioned, there are many tools to get the job done, but the focus here is on the best in collaboration and workflow management solutions that will help to move your business in the right direction – toward profits!

So, let’s take a brief look at what is currently available on the market to collaborate on projects. We will start with the paid big enterprise systems and move our way down the shelf to the options for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Some of the least expensive and free options that are on the market may be sufficient but will lack the functionality, reliability, and support that paid project collaboration solutions provide.


It is well worth watching the two minute video on the Huddle website. The Huddle collaborative system for project management, workflow and communication in real time is an industry leader for enterprise apps of this kind.

Huddle is a cloud-based app that allows users to work on various types of documents, track progress and delegate in a modular, modern interface that can update in real time so multiple users can work on a project at once. Huddle offers a secure space to distribute workloads.


SharePoint is by far the most widely used tool for collaborating on complex enterprise projects. SharePoint is a Microsoft product so it does have good support and can be used on a wide variety of machines, devices and networks and also works in the cloud. It can be extended with Yammer, a social network that allows your organization to create a social network or hub where users can connect and share ideas and plans with one another. It also integrates with OneDrive, Microsoft’s flagship cloud storage. There are also other apps to extend SharePoint for more configuration, functionality, and customization.

With SharePoint, users can administer projects and easily integrate content from their Microsoft Office apps. Like Huddle, SharePoint users have a secure environment to work and collaborate. The maintenance is automated for minimal downtime.


SAP seems to a bit different. Still an enterprise solution provider of collaborative apps for business, SAP tailors their solutions for specific industries such as aerospace, defense, banking, consumer products, engineering, construction, technology, energy and others. Their software comes pre-configured based on their professional evaluation of various industry needs. They also provide solutions for SMBs. Some of their solutions include analytics, cloud, big data, customer relationship management (CRM), security and others. Their business suite helps organizations deal with their content, share with others and create custom workflows for their operation. Pricing seems to be tied to the specific solutions provided by SAP.


Their motto is “coordinate anything” and that is what you should be able to do with great project management and collaboration tools for your business. They offer their product to companies of any size but the enterprise will find many solutions tailored to their needs. They use an easy to understand dashboard with plenty of toolbars and customizable viewing and working options. It also integrates with other common platforms, making it a perfect fit for most corporations.

Google Drive and other cloud platforms

There are a number of different options for cloud storage including Google Drive, but that is not all these options offer. You can also connect a number of free (usually limited but upgradeable) apps designed to collaborate on projects. If you are using databases, spreadsheets, documents or other commonly available software, you could also design your own project management systems for use in the cloud. Make sure you use plenty of security precautions and set permissions. You should have a secure and private data policy for this. Google also offers Apps for Business and integrates its tools for use with companies.

By using any of these tools, you will help your company become more efficient. Take your time to look at each one of these software options with your IT department to ensure compatibility, proper cost to benefit ratio and other factors. Using a consultant to help you to navigate this new road of information security, inter-operability, and shared access is a logical step to ensure policies, procedures and programs are implemented properly.

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