Maximise your business efficiency with collaboration tools

Business collaboration software

Effective collaboration has never been straightforward for businesses. Everyone is busy, and employees are continuously balancing individual tasks and shared workloads. The increase of remote and flexible working brings an additional obstacle for teams, making it harder to communicate effectively. This is where reassessing your business’ collaboration tools and software is key to enhancing your team’s performance and morale.

Investing in the right technology can transform our workplaces. Whether you have remote, hybrid or onsite teams, digital tools can boost the organisation and synchronisation of your projects. By centralising communication, employees have a controlled space to share, edit, and approve documents, as well as instantly chat, host, train, onboard and more.

For some businesses, an all-in-one collaboration platform is crucial to the smooth running of their operations. This kind of software ensures everyone is on the same page and has a meeting point for department updates, file submissions, etc.

So, even if your employees are spread across many locations or work at different times of day, your collaboration tools are the glue that keeps everyone in the loop. If you’re still undecided, read on to explore the basic collaboration software options and how to choose to suit your business needs.

What are collaboration tools?

Collaboration tools allow team members to communicate with each other or contribute to a project in some way. For example, they might enable several people to edit the same document at once or track the sign-off process for a new company brochure.

Despite what many businesses think, collaboration tools are more than a digital bulletin board. Some software can extend to project management, helping team leaders organise tasks and set deadlines. For design teams, collaboration tools are essential for brainstorming visual ideas and quickly sharing feedback on specific work.

Are collaboration tools right for your business?

Some software packages include collaboration tools as standard. For instance, your office suite may already include file sharing and editing tools. These built-in features allow you to mark document changes made by different people and automate emails on updates.

So, understandably, you may not require a separately paid subscription to a complex platform. Indeed, it may be a good idea to start with simple collaboration tools, then consider more advanced options as you scale up.

For example, if you’re tracking the tasks people are working on, you may want to use an Excel spreadsheet. However, as your team grows and you take on more projects, you could switch to an online project management tool. This gives team members the ability to update their own tasks, while you can filter them by urgency, create clear deadlines and add other details.

Free trials and unpaid versions of business software are also a great way of trying new collaboration tools. With many teleconferencing tools, companies will offer free versions, allowing you to hold meetings between people in different locations. If you then decide you need to give presentations, or host webinars, you might move to an online conferencing system. This will offer more advanced features such as screen sharing and greater access controls over members. By trialling software this way you will also reduce the cost burden of buying an unused software subscription.

Types of online collaboration tool

There are several different types of collaboration tools which your business may want to adopt. Below is a non-exhaustive list of key business collaboration tools:

Real-time collaboration tools

These allow two or more people to work on something at the same time. This can be useful for a wide variety of sectors, with countless software dedicated to design, coding, chats, task planning, calendaring, updates and more.

Document editing tools

These tools, often in the form of cloud suite platforms, let several people edit the same document. They track and merge changes, let users add comments and can even manage the stages through to final approval.

Communication and conferencing tools

With text-based and virtual conferencing platforms, everything from small team catch-ups to 100-person webinars can now be hosted online. Some software also allow app integration for more efficient and centralised file sharing and editing.

Project management tools

These tools help you coordinate projects. They de-centralise control, allowing people to add and change their own project tasks, and automatically update your overview.

Problem tracking and reporting

These tools let you log issues (‘bugs’), which can then be assigned to other people for resolution. They’re useful for managing product development or tracking complaints.

Examples of collaboration software

Google Workspace

This comprehensive suite contains all the well-known Google applications, including Drive, Sheets, Forms and Slides. Although you may already utilise some of these for daily operations, migrating to Google Workspace can help you leverage more advanced collaboration tools.

Essentially on a Google business plan, your team can benefit from cloud storage, where all data is centralised. Sharing and editing capabilities will be synchronised across all added devices and employees can create customised domain emails. It further enables advanced site building features, data analysis, and admin management for better security controls.


A popular all-in-one real-time collaboration platform for messaging, file sharing, video calls, app integration and more. It enables one-to-one communication through direct messaging, as well as separate ‘private’ and ‘public’ channels. This helps ensures no one is overwhelmed with unnecessary notifications.

Slack is therefore used by a wide range of businesses, from startups to large corporations. Creative and tech agencies often use it to manage their assets, as users can integrate specialised apps and tools into the platform. Its search feature assists with locating past files and conversations, so that no important information is lost.

Choosing business collaboration software

There are three key questions to ask when choosing a collaboration tool for your business:

  • What’s it for? Draw up some requirements for your collaboration system. Who will use it? What sort of work will they be collaborating on?
  • Who will use it? Some collaboration tools will charge per user. You will also need to decide whether you need to establish access controls.
  • Will it work with existing systems? Many tools can link with other software or your intranet for extra flexibility. For instance, having employees access documents directly on your intranet may be more convenient than having to open a separate program.

In-house management

You also need to decide whether you want to manage the tool in-house. To do this, you’ll need a network server. This gives you lots of flexibility but can be tricky to set up.

Essentially, you’ll be taking the responsibility for purchasing, maintaining and managing the server to run your collaboration software. This requires a strong in-house IT team and administrator who can handle the necessary infrastructure.

However, with this option, you’ll have full control over your collaboration software and how it’s run. As such, you’ll be able to see exactly how data is handled and have a better sense of security.

Hosted collaboration tool

The alternative is to use a hosted collaboration tool, where you pay to use the service across the internet. This means a third-party cloud service provider will handle your data and provide all ongoing maintenance and security patches.

Hosted services are the easiest to set up as you can access platforms from web browser or app on your desktop. This option is ideal if you have limited in-house tech expertise as your business won’t be required to manage or maintain infrastructure.

Finally, find out what your employees would find useful for effective collaboration. From here you can test tools using free versions before rolling them out across your business. Be prepared to change some business processes to accommodate collaboration tools. Therefore, it’s important to involve your staff from the beginning of the transition.

If you need any help or advice regarding collaboration tools, feel free to get in touch.