Groupware: Collaborative Software

What is Groupware?

Group­ware, also known as colla­bo­ra­tive soft­ware, refers to busi­ness soft­ware which allows people to work on the same project while located in diffe­rent places from one another. While there were already programs in place for this, such as email, tele­phones, tele­graph machines and letters, the aim of group­ware is to make busi­ness colla­bo­ra­tion instanta­neous, multi-layered, easy, and fun.

The modern world has taken group­ware in many diffe­rent direc­tions over the past several years. Some of the most preva­lent programs online involve word-proces­sing and spreadsheet group ware, in which users can log in from around the world and colla­bo­rate on a docu­ment. This is useful and fun for busi­ness purposes, because people can instantly get toge­ther and brain­storm ideas or build a paper all at once via appli­ca­tion sharing. This is a lot like the age-old chat room, but it provides a project on which people can actively colla­bo­rate and create.

A form of SaaS group­ware is that of web confe­ren­cing and desktop sharing soft­ware. By viewing another’s screen live over the Web, group­ware opens the doors for real-time colla­bo­ra­tion with anyone, anywhere around the world. Remote computer access soft­ware enables small busi­ness owners and free­lan­cers to work within a greater market­place via busi­ness presen­ta­tionsonline trai­ning, and online confe­ren­cing.

Who Can Benefit from Groupware?

The most imme­diate bene­fi­ci­a­ries of group­ware are the thou­sands of busi­nesses that have tempo­rary or perma­nent employees anywhere other than the main office head­quar­ters. Free­lan­cers, offshore workers, workers from home, or workers in other plants or offices around the world can use online colla­bo­ra­tion soft­ware to connect directly and work on projects. As more and more busi­nesses are conside­ring offshore deve­lo­p­ment to save money on payroll, the consis­tency and effi­ci­ency of group­ware programs should be on many CEO’s minds. Conver­sely, the free­lance economy is picking up, as busi­nesses need results but don’t want to be tied to employees with health insu­rance and reti­re­ment accounts. The answer is group­ware soft­ware for small busi­ness. The easier it is to commu­ni­cate what you need from your free­lance employees, the more successful your busi­ness will be in the long run.

The best group­ware programs are judged by how easy and how fun they make commu­ni­ca­tion, both for busi­ness and for plea­sure. An example of a great group­ware program would be a mutual social calendar for groups of friends online. The calendar would be the “colla­bo­ra­tive project,” and each person could post when he or she was free and when he or she had to work. This would help the group be able to spon­ta­neously plan outings simply by looking at the calendar and say, “oh, so and so are all free, I’ll call them all up and we can meet at cafe abc!”

Group­ware is the wave of the future, as far as working toge­ther is concerned. Before the present day Internet, online commu­ni­ca­tion was too fluid, too much about commu­ni­ca­tion without enough solid produc­tion value. Those times are chan­ging. With group­ware, groups of people can get work done from anywhere in the world, so long as they have access to a computer.