Remote work has become the new normal in the pandemic. Businesses that lagged in digital connectivity had to come up with remote solutions. They learned how to manage their teams remotely, encourage digital collaboration, and provide customers with their needed tools.
The outcome is that virtual format has now become a norm. 54 percent of Americans say that they want to continue working from home. 66 percent expect to go for a hybrid model. As a result, communication and collaboration have undergone a drastic shift. Digital collaboration has become the norm, and post-pandemic, it’s likely to continue.
Businesses must adopt new digital methods like video chat, file sharing, and chat options to connect with employees and customers. And that’s what we are going to cover in this article.
- Collaboration portal features
- Collaboration portal best practices
Before we get into the features, let’s try to understand the role of the collaboration portal in your organization. Whether it’s a small team with a few customers or a big organization, collaboration software bridges the communication gap between employees and customers. As a business, you can increase task completion, knowledge gathering, team-building exercises, and more. A collaboration tool connects customers/employees with the right people and channelizes information sharing to drive the right decisions.
Apart from that, there are various ways portals benefit your organization:
- Streamlines communication by providing customers and employees with a unified interface: no more redundant emails and calls.
- Facilitates information storing and data sharing with communities, small groups, and individuals with a few clicks.
- Enables teammates to work together even remotely. They can share documents, participate in discussions and do a lot more within a single workspace.
- Increases accountability and allows team members to go back and check the mistakes and prevent them from recurring.
- Improves relationships with external stakeholders by allowing them to browse the knowledge base, submit questions, and manage everything related to tickets.
- Eliminates trivial activities such as status updates, to-do lists, meetings requests. You can manage it all from one place.
- Promotes business expansion and growth. Collaboration inspires teams to participate, share ideas, raise bars, and foster communication for business enhancement.
- Builds your brand and shows you in a positive light in front of your customers.
To garner these benefits, having the right set of features in your collaboration software is essential. And what are those features?
Let’s see it.
Must-Have Collaboration Portal Features
A centralized network with internal communication capabilities eliminates the bottlenecks in human interaction. With a centralized platform, you and your stakeholders can communicate related to a project within one place. Without searching through email threads, you can find relevant information in the chat group. The conversation threads help team members to provide feedback, request approvals, and send documents to each other. Apart from this, you can take advantage of video calls, virtual meetings, streaming – everything from a single platform.
Slack, a communication tool, is a good inspiration for internal collaboration. It includes features like – search, notifications, screen sharing, customizable chatbots, and third-party integrations. Some solutions also allow attaching files with comments in internal messaging features to improve virtual connectivity.
Here’s what you should include to enhance communication:
- Real-time chat and messaging
- Audio and video conferencing
- Discussion threads
- File sharing
- Notifications and Alerts
Tip: Include stickers, GIFs, emojis in the chat platform. Offer all the possible communication channels in a single group. Let your team members choose how they would like to communicate.
If the purpose of the collaboration is to expedite projects, then managing tasks would simplify the processes. Your remote team can manage their tasks and work as per their routine. You, on the contrary, can set up a task list for teams, send reminders to you and your team members, and attach files to the list for quick access.
With task management, you can track your employees’ accomplishments, including project progress. It helps you meet goals and keep everyone on the same page. Trello, for example, allows users to collaborate within a board and create a card for every task that moves across the board with easy drag-and-drop functionality. Users can add others to the task and even attach files to it. Other examples include Asana and Wrike.
Key features to include:
- Boards to create and manage tasks
- Task assignment to add people to tasks
- Task prioritization to set schedule
- Planning and scheduling to meet deadlines
- File management to store and attach files
- Comments and real-time sharing
Tip: Offer easy-to-read calendar views of tasks and deadlines. It will help you and your team members to plan, schedule, and adjust tasks based on their objectives and goals.
While working remotely, it can take a lot of time to access information that only one employee has access to. You/other team members might have to wait till the person logs in, reads the message, and shares the file. Cloud-based document management, however, can make it easy for everyone in the organization to access documents, update, and forward along to other teams.
G-suite products such as Google Drive helps users access and share Docs within the company. Based on their permissions, users can view, comment, or edit the docs in real-time, with changes automatically saved in the cloud. Similar to Google Docs, Quip provides a cloud-based workspace to collaborate on documents in real-time.
Also Read: A Complete Guide to Document Management.
These types of cloud-based collaboration spaces can improve productivity by giving users access to all the files from one place.
Key highlights of this feature are:
- Document and content management
- Real-time collaboration
- Synchronous editing
- Ready-made templates
- Shortcuts for text formatting
- Version control
- Revision history
Confluence and Samepage are other examples of document management software.
Tip: Name the documents accurately so that it’s easy to see the latest version.
While focusing on collaboration and engagement, you should not forget the importance of data protection and security. The collaboration portal should offer various protection layers and flexible permissions such as two-factor authentication, login, password, role-based access, etc.
The role-based access will restrict the users from accessing unauthorized information, while two-factor authentication ensures that a malicious person cannot access the portal. Don’t forget to add additional security protocols.
Tip: For two-factor authentication, ask users to provide a pin/password along with some form of identification such as question prompts.
The collaboration portal features mentioned above are advanced features based on the type of collaboration software you’re looking for – project collaboration, knowledge collaboration, document and content collaboration, and social collaboration.
Here’s a list of features you can add if you’re just starting:
- Secure login
- Knowledge base
- Document sharing
- In-app messaging
- Real-time notification
- Smart dashboard
- Integrated calendar
To manage projects, documents, team collaboration, and more.
Collaboration Portal Development Best Practices
Get the most out of your collaboration software by implementing the following practices:
UI is important as your employees and customers won’t use a clumsy solution. Hence, it should be clutter-free, intuitive, and easy to search and navigate. While designing UI, ask questions like – “how can I make it better for employees?”
Even if your team is working from a workstation throughout the day, your solution should give them the flexibility to work from mobile phones. Hence, offer mobility and responsiveness. Allow your employees to work from any device of their choice.
Collaboration software should be flexible enough to integrate different tools for better results. It should allow sync with various marketing tools, whether it’s via API connection or backend development, for example, Zoom and Google Meet integration for video conferencing.
Automation is the key to business productivity. The best thing you can do is – automate manual tasks like organizing documents, sending real-time notifications and reminders of all the activities, etc.
If your goal is to manage an entire business, bringing in one collaboration software won’t be enough. So, implement a hybrid approach, i.e., go for a custom collaboration portal development that manages documents, tasks, projects, communication, and overall business.
CRMJetty has been in the portal industry for more than a decade. We have served various clients from different industries with unique requirements.
We combine all that experience with our industry knowledge and build custom solutions for our clients. If you need to develop a collaboration portal, we will develop a custom one per your requirements and market trends.
All product and company names are trademarks™, registered® or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.