Advancements in Online Collaboration Systems

Years ago, collaboration between team members took place one way. Everyone came together in a single room at the same time, and in the same place, and worked together. With the advent of the speakerphone, a few adventurous companies expanded this model to include someone calling in. Years later, more daring organizations employed video conferencing. Still, the basic model of everyone coming together in one place at one time did not fundamentally change.

As the workforce expands geographically, and, in some cases, experiences near shoring or off shoring, the possibility of coming together in the same place and same time becomes more and more difficult. National and international organizations with employees in different time zones add more complexity to this mode of collaboration.

Online collaboration systems solve problems associated with disperse geographic locations, multiple time zones, and the source of the team members, whether they work in an office or at home. With mobile computing and remote access, it is possible to access the system at any time and from any location in and out of the office.

Everyone who is part of the team can access the online collaboration system, regardless of where they are and what time it is. Further, each and every person can access the information or documentation they need when they require it. Importantly, the exchange of data and documents between collaborators can be done in a way that is secure and safe. Information technology security has evolved to the point where what is stored in online collaboration systems can be deemed safe.

In an online collaboration system, the information is not only safe, but levels of access can be determined in advance. Executives may have total access, members of certain administrative departments can have access to data specific to their work, and Workgroups can have access to the areas related to their expertise.

Another advantage of online collaboration systems is that all the users accessing the system can share ideas, data, documents, project and program information as soon as the information becomes available. Work can proceed, literally, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

The instantaneous sharing of information through online collaboration systems has the additional advantage of inherent multiple reviews. As the data or documentation is quickly seen by multiple team members, any inaccuracies or problems with what is being shared will be rapidly communicated. The information in online collaboration systems, in this way, is self-correcting.

Organizations with either a national or international footprint may, beyond time zone differences, have issues with cultural differences as well. These cultural differences are reflected in body language, linguistics and verbiage. Online collaboration systems may not resolve all the cultural differences, but it certainly simplifies communications and facilitates collaboration by creating a common context and framework for the discussion.

Online collaboration systems can be easily integrated with project management software to optimize resource usage and their work products. Used together, the combined functionality yields a more effective workforce.