What is collaboration software?

The term collaboration software refers to a variety of applications that enable users to interact with each other, share tasks and achieve common goals.

In contrast to communication software, which primarily serves the exchange of messages, collaboration software explicitly serves the purpose of working together on tasks and projects. Areas of application for collaboration software include agile project management, joint processing of files and documents, and special use cases such as idea management, innovation management and knowledge management. The basic functionalities of collaboration software as well as the use of these tools within companies are described in this article.

Collaboration software features

Collaboration software includes a number of features specifically designed to enable or facilitate collaboration between users. This chapter introduces some typical features. Due to the different areas of application of collaboration software, not all features are always equally represented in every application.

  • Sharing of entries with other users: Collaboration software makes it possible to share content with a clearly defined target group, so that this content can be viewed by several users at the same time.

  • Commenting on contributions: Most applications in the field of collaboration software have commenting features that allow users to discuss a specific issue.

  • Evaluation features: Especially in special applications such as idea management software and innovation management software but also in areas such as pipeline management in sales, collaborative evaluations are carried out according to previously defined criteria.

  • Different editing rights: Collaboration software enables users to make changes to existing contributions, whereby the rights to change can be assigned flexibly. For example, in the field of software for agile project management, it is possible to define exactly who is allowed to carry out specific changes to project steps, tasks and milestones.

  • Collaboration monitoring: Collaboration software usually contains monitoring mechanisms that provide information on how well teamwork is supported by the software.

These functions vary according to the area of application. For example, in idea management, team members have the right to change an idea, whereas in 3D visualization software, users have the right to change models using collaboration methods.

Examples for the use of collaboration software

The term collaboration software is mainly used in the corporate environment. Although a number of video games such as Minecraft also rely on the principle of collaboration and allow users to create objects together, this software genre is not usually referred to as collaboration software. Typical areas of application in companies are described here:

  • Collaboration software as social intranet applications: A social intranet allows employees to exchange news, comment on contributions and manage projects together. The term social intranet is a generic term for a wide range of applications. A social intranet usually has common groups for exchange, a common project or task management and a common file management.

  • Knowledge management software: Collaboration software enables the creation of a knowledge database within companies. Different employees of a company exchange knowledge on current issues and enter best practice solutions. The principle of collaboration ensures that knowledge clusters which exist at different places in the company are merged on one platform.

  • Idea management software and innovation management software: Ideas that come up at different locations in a company are discussed and evaluated with the help of collaboration software and driven forward through a transparent innovation process.

  • Software for agile project management: Projects that require collaboration between several people can be driven forward with the help of collaboration software that supports agile project management. Project steps pass through clearly defined stages in the workflow, for example “in preparation”, “in progress”, “review” and “done”. Individual tasks can be assigned to each project step. Software for agile project management ensures that all project participants recognize their specific roles and tasks and can jointly drive projects forward.

The term collaboration software is more likely a generic term for a multitude of use cases. The principle of collaboration is common to all these uses cases. This principle is the defining characteristic of collaboration software.