What you need to know about collaboration systems

Collaboration is critical for organisations of all sizes, not just enterprises. And with the increased need to collaborate, many companies decide to implement technology to help make the most of their teamwork efforts. In this blog post, we’re taking a look at how some of the most popular systems compare – in functionality and business impact.

What does a good collaboration system look like?

A good collaboration system should at a minimum do the following:

  • Facilitate co-operation, idea sharing and transparency
  • Encourage people to participate
  • Be readily understandable and intuitive
  • Demonstrate clear advantages to the users
  • Integrate with existing resources and documents

Most mature Enterprise Collaboration Systems on the market today tick all these boxes – as well as include video or audio conferencing, chat rooms, screen-sharing, integrated email and diary features, and complete project tracking functionality. And while most of the established systems are cloud-based, there is often also the option of running it locally when security is an issue and you want to keep your resources behind a firewall.

In this list, we’ve handpicked some of the most popular collaboration systems outlining the key features of each.


Jive-n

Jive is an enterprise solution that delivers some of the most popular features of social networking, community, collaboration, and content management software – all within a highly secure enterprise platform. It’s been designed to support team members in making natural conversations and engagement, both inside and outside the corporate firewalls, which has been proven to improve efficiency and increase staff member engagement. It integrates with a wide range of other productitivy tools, too.

Key features:

  • Brainstorming
  • Chat / Messaging
  • Content Management
  • Cooperative Writing
  • Discussion Boards
  • Document Management
  • Group Calendars
  • Project Management
  • Synchronous Editing
  • Task Management
  • Version Control

 

daPulse

daPulse is a project management tool that focuses on real-time visibility of team activity, project tracking, workload and communication. It also enables you to easily keep a document repository in one central location, and search them for keywords. Being a highly visual tool, it’s been praised for its simple-to-use interface and clarity of information. It integrates with several other productivity tools such as Dropbox, Trello and Google+.

Key features:

  • Brainstorming
  • Chat / Messaging
  • Contact Management
  • Content Management
  • Cooperative Writing
  • Discussion Boards
  • Document Management
  • Group Calendars
  • Project Management
  • Synchronous Editing
  • Task Management
  • Version Control

exoPlatform

eXo Platform is an open source enterprise solution for social collaboration within the business and its ecosystem of partners, developers and customers. The platform is based on intranets, websites and various dashboards to show levels of collaboration and engagement.

Key features:

  • Brainstorming
  • Chat / Messaging
  • Content Management
  • Discussion Boards
  • Document Management
  • Group Calendars
  • Project Management
  • Task Management
  • Version Control

 

Smartsheet

If you spend a lot of time using spreadsheets, Smartsheet will feel very familiar. Its interface is similar to the spreadsheet structure, although this solution has a great deal of clever features such as task assignment, project progress tracking, work automation, calendar management, document sharing, and more.

Key features:

  • Brainstorming
  • Contact Management
  • Content Management
  • Discussion Boards
  • Document Management
  • Group Calendars
  • Project Management
  • Task Management
  • Version Control

Noodle

Noodle is a powerful, feature-rich, premium enterprise collaboration system, often deployed as a corporate portal or intranet environment. It supports functions such as wiki pages, group management, video chats, and forms and databases – as well as a full enterprise social network. The rich library of functions probably go way beyond the needs of a medium sized business, but for a large organisation that supports multiple, distributed teams, this is a great all-in-one platform that can scale with the business.

Key features:

  • Audio / Video Conferencing
  • Chat / Messaging
  • Contact Management
  • Content Management
  • Cooperative Writing
  • Discussion Boards
  • Document Management
  • Group Calendars
  • Project Management
  • Task Management
  • Version Control

 

Office365 Enterprise tools

Now – no collaboration system overview would be complete without listing some of the Microsoft applications as well.

With the arrival of Microsoft Office365, collaboration systems became instantly accessible for many businesses who wouldn’t otherwise invest in a standalone collaboration application. In many ways, Microsoft transformed the way businesses adopt collaboration systems. (And one major perk is of course also the fact that these tools integrate seamlessly with all the other file and document formats of the MS Office family.)

Some of the most widely used components include:

  • SharePoint: An advanced document management and storage system, with the ability to use, search and analyse a large repository of information.
  • Teams: A chat-based meeting space with built-in access to various other Microsoft tools.
  • Project: A complete project management tool for managing tasks, schedules and costs across a team.
  • Yammer: Described as “Facebook for the enterprise”, Yammer is a social networking and collaboration tool mainly used in large corporations for internal, informal communications.
  • Outlook: With its increasingly advanced range of built-in messaging, scheduling and task management features, Outlook remains the most widely used tool in the Office365 suite.

Here at DCSL, we are avid users of Outlook and Microsoft Teams for business collaboration, as we find that most of our day-to-day business and project management can be done using these channels. (For development projects, we are partial to using Sifter for user acceptance testing and Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Services.)