Collaboration is the name of the game as far as enterprises are concerned.

Line of business and IT teams must work together to come up with solutions to meet the needs of their rapidly evolving organizations.

But as we all know, humans can be complicated. Working together closely opens the door for potential miscommunication, change resistance and groupthink. Aside from hampering the productivity and efficiency of a team, it can also curtail essential creativity and collaboration needed between members to drive their organization forward.

This is where groupware comes in. So, how exactly does groupware mitigate these potential risks?

What is Groupware?

Groupware is an umbrella term that encompasses the different software and tools available for teams to work collaboratively. The idea behind groupware is to remove the constraints of time and location to bring remote teams together and provide them a common platform where they can brainstorm ideas and come up with strategies for effective implementation. Over the years, a number of groupware solutions utilizing different technologies have come to the fore.

Groupware ensure all the communication between the group, as well as the data shared by its members, remains safe and is stored conveniently in one location. Moreover, depending on the tool being used, the members may be able to provide messages and feedback for their co-members. This eliminates much of the inefficiency associated with cross organizational teams, where it’s tempting to act before discussing a point. Since everything is on record, the data can be used for future collaborations as well as to iron out any issues with the current project.

Groupware for Creative Thinking

The obvious benefit of groupware is that the team remains on task with all the information needed provided on one platform. There are less distractions and the members are clear about their goals by being able to find what they need in one centralized place rather than digging through email chains. If there is any confusion, it can be discussed among the members and they can clear things up before moving forward.

This way, there are fewer delays or obstacles along the way, and they can also decide on the appropriate strategies and schedules to get the work done within the timeframe and resource limitations imposed on them.

ALSO READ: Former Cisco Exec & HuffPo Director Talk About How To Fix Broken Organizations & Drive Meaningful Change

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Team members are able to bring their individual ideas to bear. The group can go over the ideas and solutions presented by each member and then decide which ones to use. This fosters out of the box thinking and ensures no ideas, regardless of their nature, are ignored. The idea behind teamwork is to get people from different backgrounds and experiences together, and through groupware, businesses can take full advantage of this.

This also ensures that members who might be otherwise shy or reluctant to put forth their thoughts and ideas can do so from behind a screen. Otherwise, it is likely that they would be averse to speaking up, especially if the other members are seniors or are more experienced than them. This also reduces the risk of groupthink. Often, members who lack experience or confidence tend to go with the ideas presented by others, or more often with the ideas which the group is buying into. This hampers their creativity and they are unable to bring their expertise to bear.

This free exchange of ideas with no restrictions on communication helps foster collaboration. Generally, groupware tools offer a number of channels through which group members can communicate with each other, including instant messaging. This allows any member to share his/her ideas at any given time. All that is required is that they are connected to the internet, regardless from which device. Not only is this cost-effective but actually encourages group members to communicate more. Even the smallest of points are put forth and recorded, ensuring optimal efficiency and output.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the many ways in which groupware fosters creative thinking and collaboration. The solutions are there for the taking. It is really up to the team to make best use of the resources they have at their disposal. Teams which use groupware effectively will definitely be able to deliver results that organizations need to stay competitive.

RELATED: How Digital Collaboration Encourages Productive Teamwork, Even When Working Alone

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