As workforces become increasingly distributed in the era of remote work and outsourcing, the need for cloud-based collaboration tools is clearer than ever.
Every business can be defined as the collaboration between four fundamental components – people, assets, finances, and time. That collaboration produces information, which requires governance – hence the PAFTCIG model.
Success, whether in the form of financial growth, project completion, or anything else, depends on how well these functions work together. Fostering a collaborative environment is, therefore, essential to the long-term success of any organisation.
While most business leaders recognise the vital role of collaboration, there’s also no denying the enormous challenges they face in today’s highly interconnected global marketplace. With so many moving parts across increasingly complex supply chains and distributed workforces, it has never been harder to keep everything running smoothly. These challenges have given rise to the so-called silo mentality, in which different divisions within an organisation are unable or unwilling to share information in pursuit of a common goal.
Cloud collaboration software seeks to address these challenges by keeping everyone on the same page.
What is cloud collaboration software?
Collaboration software can mean many things, but the overarching goal is always the same. That is to maximise team effectiveness by providing a centralised platform where people can openly share knowledge and work together, regardless of where they’re physically located.
A collaboration platform incorporates many features and functions, such as desktop-sharing, video conferencing, and file-sharing. There’s also some crossover with project management software and human resources software, among others. This is why it can be difficult to define cloud collaboration, which is ultimately just a function of a much broader ecosystem.
Today’s collaboration software is predominantly cloud-based, since running through a browser over the internet means that anyone can access and use it no matter where they are. This is particularly important now that businesses often have highly distributed workforces consisting of employees working from home and freelance contractors located in different countries.
Here are some ways cloud collaboration software can improve your operations:
1. Foster seamless team communication
Cloud collaboration software serves as a virtual workspace for all team members, regardless of whether they’re working at home or in the office. While the importance of cloud collaboration was greatly highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic, many business leaders are starting to realise its long-term benefits too. For example, even for teams that routinely meet in person, having a centralised hub for sharing knowledge makes it much easier to keep track of projects than things like sticky notes.
A core function of any cloud collaboration software is instant messaging. This includes topic- or team-specific community channels, private messaging, and even virtual watercoolers where employees from across teams can get together during their downtime. Most platforms support audio and video conferencing, screen-sharing, and file-sharing too – all of which play a central role in creating a truly collaborative environment.
2. Ensure everyone is on the same page
Cloud-based collaboration platforms are all about breaking down the various administrative or technical barriers that prevent teams from working effectively together. In the case of remote work, these barriers are often exacerbated by the fact that people often use different devices. However, since cloud software works through a browser and requires no installation, it should work on any internet-connected mobile or desktop device.
Cloud collaboration platforms often include project management capabilities or are integrated with project management software. This helps team members track progress and ask for help when they need it. Notifications about upcoming deadlines and other important matters appear on the user’s screen immediately to ensure that everyone is always on the same page – no matter where they are.
3. Enhance transparency and accountability
One of the biggest challenges organisations with distributed workforces face is maintaining a strong and consistent corporate culture. It is, after all, harder to foster healthy and professional relationships between teams and employees when they are not working together in person. In many cases these days, people often work together for months or even years on end yet never meet in person.
Maintaining accountability and transparency in such an environment can be difficult, but cloud collaboration software helps break down the barriers with accessible communication. Because all actions are recorded, team leaders can quickly get to the root cause of problems down to misunderstanding or misconduct. Furthermore, the provision of video conferencing helps bring people together in a way that can be almost as effective as in-person meetings – albeit without the substantial logistical challenges.
4. Share files and documentation anywhere
Many of those born before the 90s will probably remember the times when sharing files usually involved copying larger documents and other files over to external drives. This persisted even when email became ubiquitous, due largely to the fact that many email providers place limits on the size of attachments. Email is also a thoroughly cumbersome way to share documents with large teams. Fortunately, file- and screen-sharing are now core components in any cloud collaboration platform.
By now, the vast majority of businesses use cloud storage for easy access to their information and documents. Cloud collaboration platforms may either provide their own online storage or integrate with a major third-party vendor like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. Either way, this allows team members to drag and drop files of any kind into group chats and private messages or even during calls and conferences.
5. Avoid information and organisational silos
The aforementioned benefits of cloud collaboration software combine to break down the siloes within an organisation by making it easier to share information. While there are many possible reasons for the silo mentality to appear in an organisation, such as competition between senior managers, having an agile and scalable technology environment can greatly reduce the risk of that happening. After all, collaboration software exists to promote and facilitate the free flow of information. That way, all components of the business can function effectively.
Organisational siloes may also be born of technical issues, such as incompatibilities between different systems. In these environments, different teams may want to share information, but they are unable to do so easily. Cloud software helps overcome these barriers by shifting the software deployment and management burden onto the vendor, rather than your internal team. An integrated business management system (IBMS) goes even further by greatly simplifying interdepartmental communications and optimally organising interdependent functions.
C-WORK is a cloud collaboration platform that helps keep distributed workforces connected with regular updates, easy file-sharing, and group and private chat. It is a key component of the ContinuSys integrated business management system. Sign up today to start your free trial.