What is a Team Collaboration Tool?

A team collaboration tool is any application that makes it easy for a group of individuals to work together on a common project. The core components of such an application may include:

  • Realtime chat (text / voice / video)
  • Private and group messaging
  • File-sharing and screen-sharing
  • Multi-user document editing
  • Knowledge base, forum or wiki
  • Notes and task lists
  • Notifications and reminders
  • Group calendars and scheduling
  • Time and progress tracking
  • … And other features that foster productive collaboration.

Team collaboration workflows can be roughly divided into two temporal dimensions: synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous collaboration is when work is shared or presented in real time among multiple participants. Take web conferencing, for example, where groups interact directly through live video to share knowledge, engage in meetings, or discuss topics.

Asynchronous collaboration is when work is presented and stored in a format that can be picked up and worked on at a later time. Email is perhaps the most basic form of an asynchronous collaboration tool, while the concept of Trello cards presents a much better example.

Not all team collaboration tools stick to just one type of collaboration, however. Messaging apps like Slack provide a synchronous collaborative environment, but may also throw asynchronous elements into the mix, such as threaded, forum-like discussions that can be referenced and contributed to at any time.

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