The Ideal Collaboration Toolset for Distributed Workers

What's the ideal set of collaborative tools for distributed teams? The most important are:

  • A shared file repository. Requirement. Search on top is highly desirable in most cases. There should be regular file backups, and access controls. Thumbnail images of large graphical files, such as photographs and movies, and server/desktop synchronization, may also be highly desirable. Presence information, from which various collaborative services can be launched
  • The ability to share your computer screen with others. Either read-only, or allowing remote control
  • Telephone. Both one-to-one, and on-demand conference calls. The more integrated with the other services, the better
  • Instant messaging
  • Email
  • An easy-to-use database package, allowing ad hoc definition of structured databases
  • A wiki. A new, immature technology that's very useful for working on shared text documents with simple formats

Other things can be important for certain teams as well...

  • Threaded discussion groups. Required for some teams, unnecessary for most
  • A task manager. Required for some teams, unnecessary for most
  • Group scheduling. Not usually a requirement. But it's very helpful if you can check each other's free-busy times. Sometimes dedicated project or team schedules are helpful
  • Video pictures, notably of someone's face. Nice to have, helps to build a team spirit. Also helps to reduce paranoia, as in when critical things are said, but the utterer's face shows that he or she is not angry or frustrated
  • A shared drawing package. Required for some teams. More use ought to be made of this fundamental capability
  • Group polling
  • Fax machines

Author: David Ferris

2 Comment

  1. fk6
    Posted January 7, 2005 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    and what are your types of favorite software/services for each fo these?

  2. Posted January 8, 2005 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    I like this theme. Three areas that seem worth further exploration are:

    1. Social conventions around the use of these tools – when do you add comments vs when do you overwrite a wiki page; how does IM fit with phone calls (IM before calling is getting to be a standard behavior); punctuality on group con calls; etc.

    2. Particular tools from particular vendors — what are the pros and cons of different ones?

    3. Implications for corporate managers — what new possibilities are opened up with these tools? And what tasks still must be done face to face?

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  2. By blog on February 15, 2005 at 12:41 PM

    Ideal collaboration toolset for distributed workers

    Beyond deploying these tools as separate services, it would be ideal to be able to use these tools in a coordinated, integrated manner.

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