Teamwork and Technology: The Key to Team Collaboration
A team’s success depends on the collaborative mindset of each individual, coupled with the effectiveness of their processes. As companies grow, processes become more complex and intricate, calling for more effective means of collaboration.
We know that collaboration is essential for effective business operations and employee productivity, regardless of company size or industry. In fact, 86% of employees and executives blame workplace failures on either a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication.
In this article, we explain and highlight:
- why team collaboration is important;
- how to overcome the most common collaboration challenges;
- the top 12 team collaboration tools.
The benefits of team collaboration
The main advantage of effective team collaboration is, of course, increased productivity. Collaborative teams are found to perform up to five times better because they feel motivated toward a common goal.
Team collaboration also simplifies logistics and breeds consistency. Closer participation saves time spent duplicating work and reinventing the same solutions. As a consequence, your team will finish tasks faster and meet deadlines more easily.
Team collaboration promotes the free sharing of ideas within the group. By sharing knowledge and resources, the team can profit from a larger pool of expertise than would otherwise be available.
If you remove social barriers between workers, each member has an opportunity to contribute their thoughts. This also helps foster diversity and helps your team make more accurate and higher-quality decisions.
Augmented by technology
In the digital age, even before Covid-19, teams began to work from different locations (and different time zones), using technologies to unite them while also taking care of more and more of the grunt work.
As well as uniting a distributed team, modern technology can supercharge collaboration in other ways. The software can provide instant messaging, file sharing, and task tracking at the click of a button, while video calls can decrease time spent in meetings and the cost of business trips.
The challenges of team collaboration
While efficient team collaboration brings many advantages, the path to obtaining it does have pitfalls. Let’s look at each of these and how to overcome them.
Team members may not understand how to effectively use the software tools available, with everyone taking a different approach.
TIP 1. Take time to familiarize yourself with your company processes and team working style so that you can choose which tools are best suited to them.
Building a model for effective collaboration with tangible results takes time. Some managers give up partway through the process, fearing mounting costs for little return. Instead, have the tenacity to continue until everyone is comfortable using the tools they have available.
The main cost is effort. You will have a knowledge gap that will need to be closed, both between and within teams. Moreover, uniting teams across different locations and time zones will require effort from management. Remember that team effectiveness reflects the ethos of the organization’s top executives, so invest in strengthening relationships and demonstrate collaborative behavior yourself.
Naturally, there will also be a financial cost. Collaboration tools can be expensive, especially for a startup or during a downturn.
TIP 2. Take time to understand the ROI of investing in team collaboration tools, and make use of free software trials where possible to see how your team works with different platforms.
Reliance on emails
We all know we over-depend on emails for communication. So much so that one time management technique, in particular, recommends only checking emails two or three times per day. This, in turn, makes urgent updates difficult.
That’s where collaboration tools can help out. These types of tools probably won’t replace email entirely, but you can ease the pressure on your inbox by moving to a team messaging tool for internal collaboration while using email for external correspondence.
Some level of resistance from individual team members is inevitable. If left unchecked, this can decrease productivity, as well as cause frustration and conflict, which undermines team morale.
Try to handle any objections with team members directly, and understand why the objection is being made in the first place. It could be that they don’t understand how team collaboration is beneficial to a company, team, or individual, so be prepared to explain this.
Fluctuating team members
Teams don’t work well if members are constantly joining or leaving. Try to keep the group reasonably stable over time and clarify who is part of the team. Also, ensure each member has a well-defined role, so everyone knows who is responsible for what.
Team members can become bogged down with processes rather than working towards the overall mission. Using collaboration software, managers can set and share goals clearly with everyone.
Just remember – communication is key to efficient collaboration.
Complexity stifles collaboration. One source of complexity is the variety of tools used to complete work. The team needs the right tools to collaborate effectively, and each member needs to be comfortable with that way of working.
TIP 3. Consolidate and integrate the technology you and your team are using. This is where collaboration software comes in.
What is collaboration software?
A team-centric organizational structure alone isn’t enough for effective collaboration. Employees need the appropriate environment and tools to flourish. Collaboration software is part of the framework.
Essentially, collaboration software is an application designed to help team members accomplish their shared tasks to complete their objectives. Its purpose is to help the team handle and achieve common goals to increase productivity, making routine tasks faster and easier.
This type of software keeps track of all the moving parts, such as time spent, project status, deadlines, and progress. It also enables status updates to be automatically generated for your clients. As a result, team collaboration software truly helps businesses overcome some of the obstacles that hamper team collaboration.
Through established principles, effective communication, and the best software, efficient team collaboration can yield results far better than previously expected. With it, you can make your organization’s value far greater than the sum of its parts.
Top 12 tools for collaboration
Scoro is an end-to-end work management software for creative and professional services. Thousands of global businesses use Scoro to streamline work processes and eliminate routine tasks, thereby ensuring business runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible – from sales through to billing.
Pricing: Free 14-day trial, paid plans from $26 user/month
Backlog is an all-in-one platform with an emphasis on software development. It includes industry-specific utilities such as version control and bug tracking and more general features such as project management, progress tracking, and Gantt charts.
Pricing: Paid plans from $35 per month
Podio is a flexible and highly customizable online hub for team communication. Its workflows feature provides ITTT (if-this-then-that) logic to its apps. For example, you can tell an app to automatically create a task when another has been completed.
Pricing: Free & paid plans available
Project management tools
ProofHub offers a replacement for conventional emailing with team discussions and chat but also includes other tools, such as task delegation, assigning user roles, and tracking and reporting of project history. It has a simple and well-designed interface for efficient team collaboration.
Pricing: Free 14-day trial, paid plans from $45 per month
MeisterTask‘s project management app comes with an online collaboration tool. It allows users to organize and manage tasks for ongoing processes.
Pricing: Paid plans from $8.25 user/month
GanttPRO, as the name suggests, is primarily about managing projects using Gantt charts. It also includes a Kanban-style board and enables team members to collaborate using comments, notifications, and attachments.
Pricing: Free version available, paid plans from $8.90 user/month
Cloud services for file storing and sharing
7. Dropbox Business
Dropbox Business is a cloud storage system with multiple features making it easy to collaborate and share documents. It comes in handy when you need to share large files with the team and can’t do so by email.
Pricing: Free 30 day trial, plans for teams starting from $12 user/month
Pics.io is a DAM (Digital Asset Management) solution aimed at distributed creative teams. It’s a centralized hub for your media, enabling you to access and distribute files quickly and easily. Pics.io also integrates with other tools, such as Zapier, Slack, and Adobe CC.
Pricing: Free trial available, paid plans for teams from $100 per month
9. Google Workspace
Google Workspace has evolved from Google Drive to become a leading light in cloud-based file storage and cross-platform collaboration. Much more than a document management solution, Google Workspace offers the full range of front-end business tools.
Pricing: Paid plans from $6 user/month
Tools for online meetings and better team collaboration
Slack is probably one of the most well-known collaboration software tools. It provides messaging for teams but also includes many other features. Slack enables you to set certain words to be highlighted in conversations, star channels to help you find important conversations more easily, and use ‘Slack bots’ (Slack chatbots).
Pricing: Free plan available, paid plans from $6.90 user/month
Chanty aims to make it easy to manage tasks and communicate at the same time. It includes the ability to convert messages into tasks and unlimited search history. Chanty provides audio and video calling, call transcripts, and integrations with other services.
Pricing: Paid plans from $3 per month
One of the most popular communication platforms for businesses, Zoom brings teams together to get more done in a frictionless and secure video environment. It offers high video quality and enables you to record your team meetings.
Pricing: Free plans for single users, paid plans from $14.99 license/month
Whichever tools you use, don’t forget to test them first (for free if possible) and get everybody on board with the idea of improved teamwork through technology.
If you’re considering an all-in-one solution, take advantage of Scoro’s 14-day free trial today.