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Collaboration and Productivity Software 2020: Complete Guide

What is Collaboration and Productivity Software?

The rise of a global and a distributed workforce has led organizations the world over to switch to using technology that lets work go on seamlessly, anytime and anywhere. Collaboration and Productivity Software also called collaborative software or groupware, essentially helps organizations minimize red tape and increase productivity while helping to build a customer-centric productive workplace.

In a survey of 1100 companies done by The Institute for Corporate Productivity and Professor Rob Cross of Babson College, it was found that collaborative work is 5.5 times more likely to result in higher performance. A collaborative ecosystem lowers costs, raises productivity levels, and results in higher ROI as they promote common goals by connecting teams in complex business environments.

Collaboration and Productivity Software helps organize and digitize standard time-consuming such as team member communication, coordination and workflows, file sharing, approvals, and task management. Some of the most common types of Collaboration and Productivity tools include team collaboration software, meeting management, calendar, project management, and webinar tools.

Collaboration and Productivity Software helps teams of any size bring efficiency to their work, in pursuit of a common goal. It is designed to facilitate teamwork while offering a single platform for them to share knowledge, data, and files to solve business problems and interact from any location on the cloud. Companies looking to improve coordination and teamwork, amongst business workers, often turn to Collaboration and Productivity Software such as ProofHub, Asana, Cisco WebEx, Slack, Flock, and Yammer amongst many others.

According to a McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Report, “Improved communication and collaboration through social technologies could raise the productivity of interaction among workers by 20 to 25 percent.”

We all have a personal recipe for productivity. One person may need six cups of autonomy and just a pinch of collaboration. Another person may require heaps of sociability and noise, with just a teaspoon of occasional privacy

N B

Neil Blumenthal

Co-founder, Warby Parker

With an increase of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), cloud-based SaaS solutions, and enterprise mobility among organizations globally, the demand for Collaboration and Productivity management software solutions is only set to increase. As per a market forecast study, the Collaboration Software Market size exceeded USD 9 billion in 2019 and is poised to grow at a CAGR of over 14% between 2020 and 2026. Meanwhile, the global productivity management software market size is expected to reach USD 102.98 billion by 2027, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., expanding at a CAGR of 13.4% over the forecast period.

Key Benefits of Collaboration and Productivity Tools

Greater Transparency

With less hierarchy, increased interaction, and constant tracking of progress thanks to the software, there is greater transparency among teams. This eliminates the need for constant meetings as hot button issues or decisions are tackled in a quicker, more democratic manner while keeping everyone in the loop and thereby leaving very little room for rework and duplication of tasks.

Improved Team Engagement

Collaboration and Productivity Software breaks the organizational silos letting top management and teams interact informally and pass along pertinent information, rather than stay stuck in an endless cycle of emails. It resolves common stressors and opens lines of communication, leading to the organization becoming a more transparent and evolved workplace.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

A C

Andrew Carnegie

Industrialist and Philanthropist

Consolidated Data and Communication

Rather than toggling between apps and wasting precious time finding information, Collaboration and Productivity Software brings all tasks on to one platform thereby reducing the time wasted in going back and forth between multiple business apps every day.

Improved Productivity

With a single platform to share information and organize conversations, teams can be encouraged to stay on the job with greater focus and efficiency. A rough estimate suggests that 80% of businesses today are employing Collaboration and Productivity Software to streamline their business operations and increase productivity by up to 51%.

Enhanced Employee Satisfaction

Productivity tools or lack thereof figure prominently in many Employee Satisfaction or Voice of Workforce surveys. Collaboration and Productivity Software enables quicker onboarding of new members to projects and teams. This reduces employee stress and reduces miscommunication and rework. Additionally, a Gallup Poll observes that a communicative workplace can reduce turnover by 59 percent.

Improved Workplace Efficiency

With modern workplaces spread across geographies and timelines; many organizations are choosing to work with multiple consultants, part-timers, subject experts, and freelancers. Businesses, therefore, need to offer efficient work collaboration capabilities to be able to connect with the best remote workers. The use of efficient Collaboration and Productivity Software can help ensure that.

It’s not the tools that you have faith in – tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not.

S J

Steve Jobs

Apple Inc

Which Industries use Collaboration and Productivity Tools?

Everyone from governments to creative fields like media and advertising, engineering, technology companies, manufacturing, real estate, and retailers can use Collaboration and Productivity Software. The software has a wide appeal across industries and finds users in any organization that needs collaboration and communication among its staff for everyday business-oriented tasks.

Who are the Users of Collaboration and Productivity Tools?

Collaboration and Productivity Software is useful for companies and teams of all sizes involved in marketing, sales, creative, accounts, administration, and customer-facing roles. Most importantly, companies can onboard and organize all their remote staff who may be spread across different time zones and work smoothly in tandem with consultants, freelancers, and experts who may be collaborating with the company on different projects. 

Key Features of Collaboration and Productivity Tools

Team Collaboration

Team Collaboration features enable team members to message privately, speak as a group, or share relevant content, in addition to addressing queries, cross-checking tasks, and accessing files.

Document Management 

Through cloud document management, Collaboration and Productivity tools help employees access their documents from anywhere, anytime. Users can create or edit documents and share them with their teams for feedback or approval in real-time.

Task Automation and Management

Automation of repetitive activities helps free up tremendous chunks of time for team members. Tasks such as scheduling, tagging files, creation of checklists, and email responses can often be managed using automation tools.

Meeting Management

Team productivity can be impacted by enabling effective and efficient meetings. Collaboration and Productivity Software often includes Meeting Management tools such as scheduling and invitations, agenda-setting and distribution, note-taking while a meeting is on, timers, recording action items and decision tracking, and minutes generation.

Calendars or Scheduling

Key Features of Collaboration and Productivity Tools

Digital Calendars help teams coordinate and sort goals, tasks, and schedule appointments in a visually simplistic manner. This enables users to set agendas or plans which are easily accessible can be edited and shared with employees company-wide.

Calendar Software falls among a generic category of software known as PIMs (personal information managers) which are also called schedulers.

Time Tracking and Employee Timesheets

Work time tracking is a key feature of productivity tools specifically for organizations with remote and distributed teams. Such tools provide time spent by employees with a breakdown at employee, project, and task level. The tools also provide the ability to track specific apps or program usage as well as time spent on specific websites. This is useful to control overuse of social networking site usage during work hours.

Workflow Automation

Collaboration and Productivity Software provides automated workflows that help organizations monitor progress on tasks and keep team members on the same page. 

Social Networking

Integrated Social Networks support the internal communication of a company by categorizing topics between appropriately authorized team members only. These interactions can stay private between team members or kept public to be viewed by anyone. This way staffers can view topics or have pertinent conversations rather than having to scroll through irrelevant interactions.

AI in Collaboration and Productivity Software

AI is a combination of related technologies, such as Machine Learning, Data Science, Predictive Analytics, etc., that imitates human thinking and actions. Typically, it does so by learning from its experiences, which are provided in the form of data. Similar to the human brain, the complexity of the world of AI makes it perplexing to figure out which technology from among natural language processing, machine learning, or just plain old automation is the right fit for the needs of an organization or process. 

Automation

AI enables automated processes to improve over time, through advanced machine learning analysis. When applied to Collaboration and Productivity Software it will intuitively be able to perform repetitive tasks, thereby freeing up more time for employees to engage in productive work. A great example of this is troubleshooting activities, which were handled by IT teams and took hours, and can now be managed by chatbots in minutes, reducing work overload. Another example is email automation such as SmartReach.io, which makes email marketing easier using AI. Users pre-program a set of responses and based on conditions the system sends out the right email response.

Smart Assistance

A voice-enabled smart assistant can save time by scheduling meetings and taking notes in real-time. AI assistants can reschedule and send important notifications automatically. AI can also suggest documents and resources that a person may need, and make them available during a presentation or a conference.

Video Collaboration

Artificial Intelligence combined with Natural Language Processing works together to improve video collaborations in several ways. In meetings, it can provide automatic transcription or translation, which can facilitate the efficient collaboration of people from all over the world. By automatically detecting echo and minimizing the background noise, AI can also improve the audio quality of these meetings.

Buyers Guide: Guide to Choose Right Collaboration and Productivity Tool

A few top considerations before buying the software include:

Cloud vs On-Premise

The cloud-based monitoring and productivity tools are popular as they provide ease of administration and management, attractive price points, and ease of use. This is very attractive for small and medium enterprises and companies with distributed and remote employees. Large enterprises may go in for on-premise versions mainly due to security, pricing, and scale considerations. The cloud versions will have to provide security and offline mode working for easy adoption.

High Availability

Downtime in a company’s lifecycle can generate huge costs and also impact the entire organization’s productivity. It is essential that Collaboration and Productivity Software have built-in redundancy and a solid comprehensive backup and recovery plan that can shorten downtime and get systems up and working easily.

Ease of Use

The productivity tools are largely used by employees and hence ease of use and adoption is critical for success. The tools should be simple, intuitive with a great user interface, easy to use, and should require very minimal training. Teams must be able to navigate and use their various tools and features, without having to go through extensive training.

Integrated Suite vs Point Product

Productivity tools include many dimensions and there are several specialized tools that cater to the individual aspects very well - like meeting management, project management, webinar tools, task management to name a few. There are products that bundle all related features as a suite. The suite approach might work very well if companies need to address all related aspects. A prudent buy can save valuable employee time, which they may spend switching between complementary business apps to get their work done.

Data Privacy and Security

Many of the monitoring and productivity tools involve screen capture, and collecting employees’ private information. The tools should support end-to-end encryption to transfer and store data. Also, the data should not be collected during an employee’s break time. Collaboration and Productivity Software should offer controls where information and interactions among team members can be shared or withheld with ease, as may be required. The tools should provide complete control over who sees what data in the reports. Role-based access and configurable reports are some of the required key features.

Scale and Performance

The tools should provide the necessary scale as it is expected to be used by a large number of employees. The tools should support the necessary scale as companies expand and more number of employees use them.

Also, the tools are expected to boost productivity, so they should have critical performance numbers so as not to hinder work.

Pricing

Organizations will be constrained by the budget while investing in productivity tools as they are more for internal efficiencies. ROI plays a key role in buying decisions and price points and the plans offered by the vendor play a key role in buying decisions.

Integration

Integration and compatibility are key to the successful deployment of Collaboration and Productivity Software. It must have tools that can seamlessly integrate with other apps or software. Similarly, it must support all file types and offer easy API integrations and allow all media to be easily stored in the company’s storage system.

Vendor Support

IT snags are common in modern offices and at those times, strong vendor support becomes crucial. Choosing a vendor who offers support 24/7, provides troubleshooting kits, demos, and offers periodic maintenance and upgrades at no extra cost or a nominal fee is crucial.

Challenges in adopting Collaboration and Productivity Tools

Too many tools

When companies do not map out their specific needs and goals, they end up making short-sighted purchase decisions in adopting software that may have too many tools several of which are not needed by the organization.

Lack of Strategy

While buying Collaboration and Productivity Software companies are often short-sighted and end up upgrading to the software simply to replace manual processes. This short-term view can be damaging when it comes to choosing collaboration tools as it covers a large workforce and is responsible for several important functions.

Resistance to Adoption

Companies potentially face resistance to adoption from employees for reasons of privacy, security, misuse of data. This is especially true for employee monitoring tools and some productivity tools. Some of the tools can also cause morale issues for the employees. Companies can solve such issues by including employee representatives in the buying decisions and adoption process.

26 Collaboration and Productivity Software

Megapath Icon

Megapath

4.61
★★★★★
★★★★★

MegaPath | Cloud Solutions That Fit Your Business

Nexonia Expense Reports Icon

Nexonia Expense Reports

4.49
★★★★★
★★★★★

Nexonia Expense Reports: simple, highly configurable, cloud-based...

Google Hangouts Icon

Google Hangouts

4.45
★★★★★
★★★★★

Web Collaboration software with messaging, video or voice calls facility for group or individual communications

Fleksy Icon

Fleksy

4.32
★★★★★
★★★★★

Fleksy – World fastest virtual keyboard, re-invented.

Egnyte Icon

Egnyte

4.32
★★★★★
★★★★★

Fyber FairBid - Fyber is a holistic publisher platform

OpenText Hightail Icon

OpenText Hightail

4.30
★★★★★
★★★★★

Hightail: File sharing & creative collaboration

Savah App Icon

Savah App

4.29
★★★★★
★★★★★

All-in-one design sharing |Savah App

DATABASICS Time & Expense Icon

DATABASICS Time & Expense

4.29
★★★★★
★★★★★

Time & Expense For Enterprise/Mid-Size Companies | DATABASICS

BrainCert E-Learning Platform Icon

BrainCert E-Learning Platform

4.26
★★★★★
★★★★★

BrainCert: E-Learning Platform for Instructors | Teach Online

Dock Intranet Portal Icon

Dock Intranet Portal

4.23
★★★★★
★★★★★

SharePoint modern intranet portal - mydock365.com

Ranktab Icon

Ranktab

4.23
★★★★★
★★★★★

Ranktab | Decide Smarter, Together.

Mass Communication System Icon

Mass Communication System

4.17
★★★★★
★★★★★

Mass Notification System - xcommsdirect.com

WizIQ Virtual Classroom Icon

WizIQ Virtual Classroom

4.15
★★★★★
★★★★★

Virtual Classroom Software to deliver live ... - WizIQ

Abak Icon

Abak

4.13
★★★★★
★★★★★

A COMPLETE SOLUTION ADAPTED TO YOUR NEEDS: Abak

Collabee Icon

Collabee

4.12
★★★★★
★★★★★

collabee - Team Collaboration Software For Deep Work

Kyber Icon

Kyber

4.11
★★★★★
★★★★★

Kyber - Task management, Project Management and Calendar ...

Nikec NetDocuments Icon

Nikec NetDocuments

4.11
★★★★★
★★★★★

NetDocuments -Nikec Solutions

Bitrix24 Icon

Bitrix24

4.06
★★★★★
★★★★★

A free collaboration software enabling communications, CRM and other tools for small businesses

Cisco Spark Icon

Cisco Spark

4.02
★★★★★
★★★★★

Cisco Spark : app-centric cloud-based service....

CubeAnywhere Icon

CubeAnywhere

4.01
★★★★★
★★★★★

Cube Anywhere: perfect for businesses, contractors, consultants....

Eminera Icon

Eminera

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★

Eminera: Collaboration made simple...

TaskOPad Icon

TaskOPad

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★

TaskOPad, a customized task management software

Wurkr Icon

Wurkr

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★

SaaS platform to better cultivate company culture, & encourage spontaneous collaboration

Onstream Webinars Icon

Onstream Webinars

3.96
★★★★★
★★★★★

Onstream Webinars | Onstream Media

Calabrio Workforce Management Icon

Calabrio Workforce Management

3.85
★★★★★
★★★★★

Elevate Your Approach to WFM | Calabrio WFM

MyOffice.NET Icon

MyOffice.NET

3.67
★★★★★
★★★★★

Small - Medium Business Office Apps