How to use web-based tools to improve collaboration

“There is a plethora of cloud- and web-based software applications and platforms that can help greatly with collaboration productivity,” says Stephan J. Cico, managing director of All Covered Pittsburgh, IT services from Konica Minolta.

Ultimately, the tools you choose will depend on your organization’s unique needs, but perhaps the most important tool to improve collaboration is a shared workspace that ties all collaborative tools together on a single platform.

Smart Business spoke with Cico about shared workspaces that can improve your company’s collaboration.

What is a shared workspace and how does it help improve collaboration?

A shared workspace platform, such as Microsoft SharePoint, can integrate all of your collaborative tools into one back-end system. For all but the smallest companies, having employees, partners and perhaps even customers linked via a single platform is an essential element for a smoothly functioning collaborative environment.

A shared workspace allows you to:

  • Set up an intranet for your team to find tasks, news, announcements and more.
  • Enable multiple users to work on a single version of a document from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Store and organize thousands of documents and easily retrieve them with advanced search tools and filters.
  • Store, update and review project status reports, client histories, employee work schedules and profiles.
  • Create discussion forums for collaborating groups.
  • Create portals for partners and customers to view and share information.

What are the advantages of using Microsoft SharePoint?

Many benefits of collaboration can be achieved by implementing an intranet such as Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint is ideal for project management because after you assign tasks to team members, you will be able to see, at a glance, who has completed their project and who needs extra guidance or communication.

It’s also good for virtual office collaboration, which is more important than ever. With many employees working from home and others checking in from remote offices, a tried-and-true way to collaborate online is key.

With SharePoint becoming the go-to collaboration tool, it is also a good solution for working with vendors and clients outside your organization. SharePoint is more than just a communication tool, such as Skype, it allows both parties to work together and see how the project is developing along the way.

Since SharePoint is so widely used, good, in-depth help is also just a phone call away.

How can a shared workspace like Salesforce help increase collaboration?

Efficient web-based collaboration can be a key element in driving sales. Through Salesforce Development Services, your company can develop a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution that not only manages your organization’s interactions with current and future customers, but also fosters collaboration between employees.

A cloud-based CRM like Salesforce organizes and synchronizes critical customer and prospect information. A CRM can automatically analyze relevant data, such as demographics and risk-related information, in order to qualify sales leads. It can automatically notify customers about renewals and policy changes — building customer loyalty and simplifying time-consuming tasks for employees — and automate outbound marketing functions and track metrics.

A CRM solution creates a collaborative online environment for sales teams to share information and, ultimately, boost sales. A cloud-based CRM like Salesforce provides sales staff with social tools that facilitate the sharing of data about current and potential customers and allows them to keep up with critical projects, topics and teams. Teams can work together on sales opportunities, capture organizational knowledge in a single location and drive progress from anywhere.

A CRM also allows organizations to share information collected from interactions with customers in order to improve the quality of customer service and increase customer satisfaction.

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