The best ideas are sparked through collaboration. But how can a writer in Chicago brainstorm with another in London? Or how can Mary, a software engineer in Silicon Valley, collaborate on system design with James, a database designer in Manhattan? The answer lies in business collaboration software.

Desktop sharing is one such form of software, and is a fast and effective way to get the job done when collaborating online. Why wait for several emails to be sent back and forth across the city, country or world, if you have the opportunity to share and discuss the work over the Web?

In general, business collaboration software allows people to put their heads together in a virtual document workspace. Collaboration software, or groupware, can allow users to work on a document simultaneously and allows for real-time feedback and brainstorming. But there are many forms of business collaboration programs, ones that allow us to collaborate in real-time and others that enable us to manage documents and projects via a web-based system.

Don’t Lose That Thought

Take an online document management system as an example – One advantage to online business collaboration software, over traditional document sharing methods like e-mail or print, is that the document is available anywhere a user has browser-based access to the Internet.

Going back to the system design example, suppose Mary realizes there is a missing use-case scenario in the middle of the night. She can make the change immediately. When James accesses the document, Mary’s change will be available for him to see. Better yet, if both Mary and James are online at the same time they can meet each other in a live web conference to discuss the document and each other’s suggested changes there and then over the Web – a form of real-time business collaboration.

Don’t Lose Changes

When it comes to online document management software, another important advantage is that a single master copy of the document is stored and versions are tracked by the software. Have you ever worked on a project where multiple copies of a document were modified by different people? Were changes lost because of version skew? Such business collaboration software packages support the ability to check out documents before making a change.

When this feature is enabled, only one user will be able to check out a document for modification. Other users will be able to read the document, but not modify it, until the document is checked back in. The result – changes are never lost. Business collaboration software helps minds merge anywhere, anytime, ideas occur. Let me know via the comments if you have been supporting your communications with other forms of collaborative software.