It used to be said that information was power. In today’s internet centric world, there is too much information for people to effectively use it without being overwhelmed. And that is just looking on the outside. What about all the information inside a company? As companies grow (and sometimes shrink) the need to share information within the organization will continue to gain in importance. What is more important is getting the right information to the right people in a timely manner. Technology is allowing employees to work in a variety of locations, at any time, outside the traditional office. And the ability for any employee to get the latest document version, follow a discussion, verify a deadline, check on a project status, view a shared calendar, or just update (or check) a daily log, can be a great competitive advantage.
So what do you do and how do you do it? The key is “Collaboration Software.” There are a variety of collaboration tools available to allow employees to share information. In fact, the Wikipedia lists more than 50 open source or free software applications available and 60+ proprietary applications. The program you select really depends on the type of information you need to share. Also keep in mind the paid ones will generally give you more support.
Before you go and select the application there is one area that needs to be discussed and that is ‘Hosted or On-Site.” This decision basically is whether your organization prefers it on site with the lower licensing costs but typically will need some hardware and IT support versus a higher hosting license cost with less (or no) hardware and minimal IT costs.
As a personal preference, I like Microsoft’s Sharepoint and the features and benefits that it has available. I use it at home and in our job and it has helped immensely. And of course they have a free 180 day trial available.
Depending on the tool you select, you can be up in running in as little as a few hours. Now being able to work with the right information at your hands when you need it will save you money. And that always improves the bottom line.
(First published 9.17.09)