Saturday, 30 July 2011

Must Features for Collaborative Tools

In my opinion every collaborative tool should have two features in it one is IM instant messaging application  in it or the extrernal chat applications like skype or Google Chat intergrated in it, the second one is instant updates notification from the tool, the user need not refresh the page every time to receive update.  These features may seems trivial but this will add more value for collaboration.  For example you have a project where members of the project are  different team like developers, quality assurance , support, operations, marketing. So in order to communicate with the members we usually update the Artifact/tickets in the Collaboration tool and wait for the reply, but at the other end the member will be notified only if he checks the mail frequently, so its not just the tool makes the collaboration possible it needs the help of other tool i.e mail cients make it work. Instead the tool can have a Instant update notification feature, whenever there is a update for the user, he will be notified with the popup in the tool itself. This eliminates the mail client from the scene but of course we need mail clients for other purposes. But think about a critical project you work where productivity is very important and some studies say that checking mails frequently reduces productivity, so by Instant update notification approach we can overcome this problem as the users gets notification only if he has updates. But there is another problem what if the issue is vey urgent and you need to discuss with the other members of the project immedidately but the members are working from the remote location and is impossible to meet physically, so normally we use another tool called Instant messaging/VOPI based applications to meet with the team, here comes another tool for collaboration. Instead of using a third patry software seperately, we can either develop a chat featurein the tool itself or integrate the external chat application with the tool. So that members of the project can easily communicate using text messaging or voice chat and its also easy to find members of  the project by just a single click on the user who are online i.e signed in user. It would be more effectve if there is a screen/desktop sharing option where the members of the project can share their screens/desktops via the tool and other members can see/debug the problem from the remote. But i think this is difficult to implement, if implemented this will make the Real collaboration of teams.

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