What is Project Collaboration Software?
Project collaboration software is any kind of tool that allows teams of people to work together on a specific piece of work. It is typically used to increase productivity, allow for monitoring by project managers or other stakeholders and foster clear communication and creativity.
What makes these tools collaborative by nature is that they are usually designed in a way that lets multiple people work at the same time from multiple locations while having precise documentation of changes and updates on cloud servers.
This creates a flexible approach that frees up people to do their best work while also offering transparency and visibility on progress and decision-making.
Types of Project Collaboration Tools
Project collaboration is a broad church as described above. It can include point solutions all the way up to entrerprise collaboration tools, but there are several key sub-categories within it.
Task management: these tools allow a project manager or team leader to break down a project into specific tasks and then set and track those on a platform that usually also incorporates workflow management in the form of Kanban boards or sprints.
Ideation: this software lets multiple users work together to brainstorm ideas, typically replicating the office whiteboard or wall of post-it notes. Interfaces will often be quite free form, allowing for customisation.
Documentation: If you’re old enough to remember the days of emailing Word and Excel docs back and forth and ending up with filenames like ‘QBR - v3.112 [FINAL].doc’ , then you’ll appreciate the simplicity of cloud-based software that allows simultaneous real-time editing of documents.
Communication: Are you someone that can’t live without your chat app or are you triggered when you hear the Slack notification? Communication tools like chat and video have made it easier to communicate in real-time, lowering the barrier for reaching out with questions or scheduling meetings.
Why Are Asynchronous Collaboration Tools Important?
The changing nature of work has placed a real emphasis on the ability of employees to work asynchronously. This is when two people don’t necessarily do their work at the same time or in the same place. It would seem to contradict the idea of collaboration, but in fact asynchronous collaboration with people working on an online project collaboration site can be just as effective as two people working on the same physical site from 9 to 5.
Remote working, flexible working and the globalized nature of work have made it essential to build continuity and collaboration even when teams don’t share the same time and space. You may have a marketing team in London, an engineering team in Eastern Europe and a product team in the US all working across different time zones.
This is where online project collaboration software helps foster collaboration where otherwise it may be difficult.
How to Create Real-time Team Collaboration
Creating effective real-time collaboration is about more than just buying specific tools. If the culture of the team or wider company is not conducive to collaboration, the tools will likely gather dust.
Key to collaboration is transparency, feeling free to share what you are working on, as well as being able to see what the rest of the team is working on helps build connections between different parts of a project and a clarity on workload and timelines.
A study by Google found that psychological safety is a key feature of high-performing teams. What they mean by psychological safety is a situation where team members are not afraid of making mistakes or sharing ideas. This leads to greater knowledge sharing and risk-taking thanks to a shared sense of trust.
Collaboration is hard without a clear structure - that’s where collaboration tools can be incredibly helpful, if the right approach is in place. Give team members a clear schedule, clear expectations, clear lines of communication and feedback and it will ensure that everyone knows where they stand.
Best Project Collaboration Software
Here is a select list of some of the best-in-class team project collaboration tools on the market. It's not exhaustive, but covers a range of online team collaboration tools and their key features.
Forecast can be used as a project collaboration app, but also offers the ability to manage resources and connect finances all in a single piece of software. Forecast is used by project management professionals all around the world to successfully deliver crucial projects.
As well as basic features like task planning and time tracking it also uses AI technology to automate administrative tasks and predict problems and opportunities with enough time to act. It also has Advanced Analytics giving you full control and insight into the performance of your project.
You can request a free demo of Forecast here.
An online collaborative whiteboard platform that facilitates digital brainstorms, documenting meetings, teaching a class, or managing Agile workflows.
A dynamic virtual environment for asynchronous and real-time collaboration, Mural offers a whiteboard for ideation and planning as well as other features.
Along with Slides and Sheets, Google Docs provided a viable alternative to Microsoft Office, with the added benefit of real-time collaboration, cloud-based file storage and no paperclips.
Coda promises an easy-to-use document-like app, but with the benefit of 'building blocks' that you can use to create a workflow that's tailored to you.
Trello takes the classic Kanban board and presents a card system which is incredibly simple to use with clear visuals and functionality.
Basecamp has been around for a while but during the pandemic has doubled down on its place as the ‘remote working’ app for teams that need to-do lists, group chats and calendar functionality.
Zoom and Slack
If you don’t use Google’s suite of products or Microsoft Teams, then chances are you spend most of your day in Zoom or Slack. If you can survive the fatigue, both of these solutions are tried-and-tested with great functionality, reliability and intuitive features.