What is a collaborative platform?
A collaborative platform is a hybrid tool that combines communication and collaboration within a virtual workspace.
Accessible online, this software includes:
- Project management
- Electronic Document Management (EDM)
- Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
- Instant messaging (chat)
- Knowledge management, blog, communities
- Co-creation platform, participatory innovation
- Shared agenda
How does it work?
Software vendors offer a collaborative platform - customised with the company's logos (logo, colors, custom web interface, URL, etc.)- that centralises information on secure servers (internal or included in the offer).
Each user accesses his company's cloud and personal workspace online to view or publish information and to:
- Observe his own news feed with messages, requests received, company news and projects
- Access a project or activity: create, validate, annotate a task, consult a document, etc.
- Put documents online and share them
- Send a private message to a college or take part in a discussion group
- Contribute to calls for ideas
- Complete forms (leave, absence, reimbursement) and send them to the HR manager
The platform is modular, split in feature packages.
These software are interoperable with the most popular collaborative tools: Slack, Asana, Trello, Salesforce, Wimi, Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive, Github, etc.
What are the main features of a collaborative platform?
3 elements stand out:
- The Enterprise's social network (ESN)
- The collaborative workspace by project or activity
- The personal space specific to each employee
The corporate social network
These web platforms take the fundamentals of the social network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and apply them to the company:
- Sharing information, documents, events, etc., on a virtual wall
- Instant messaging (written, audio, video) with intranet members
- Audio and video calls (videoconferencing, web conferencing with screen sharing possible)
- Profile of the network members
- Discussion pages, forums, blogs
The collaborative workspace
All the functionalities related to project management are included in the tool to avoid having to juggle with several software programs:
- Task and sub task management: name, description, manager, deadline, comments, automatic notification (manager and subscribers), recurring tasks, etc.
- Management of members' access rights to the different elements of the project (employees or guests: customers, suppliers, partners): read-only, modification, no access
- Instant messaging: private or public, individual or collective
- Document management by project
- Search bar
- Provisional planning, progress indicators, team agenda, etc.
- Organization of meetings and invitation of participants
- Project report
A collaborative portal is dedicated to each project.
More than project management and internal communication tools, these tools are used in knowledge management, participatory innovation and co-creation approaches. Calls for ideas (ideas related to a theme or problem) can be created and disseminated within the company:
- All employees can propose ideas and brainstorm: give their opinion on proposals, inspire new ones
- The administrators visualize the ideas on the project's news feed, perform a first screening and study the relevant ideas
- At the end of the campaign a performance report is generated and sent to the call participants so that they are aware of new innovative projects.
The portal used
Each employee has a user account to access his personal space and the various functionalities of the tool:
- A news feed with the ability to filter information and comment on items that appear
- Instant messaging
- RSS feed aggregator automates organizational monitoring
- Access to collaborative spaces: project, activity, suggestion box, etc.
- Personal and shared agenda
The tool also synchronises with the various software used internally:
- to process his emails from the platform
- to uniform the corporate knowledge base: a drive or DMS tool (can be included in the solution)
Some tools offer additional organisational features:
- Management of employee requests (departures, invoices, holidays, etc.) and transmission to the manager (posting in the news feed of the person concerned)
- Timesheet management
- Software hub
Who uses a collaborative platform?
These platforms are complete and versatile collaborative tools that are fitting in medium-sized companies (SMEs) and large group environments.
They centralise communication and collaboration tools: by project and transversal (participatory innovation, newsletter, etc.). They are used by all departments.
The importance of the project management module makes it easier for agile organisations, that regularly operate in project mode, to use these tools: companies, start-ups, firms, design offices, web agencies, etc.
Universities are also interested in these tools that provide a virtual space for students.
Why use a collaborative platform?
Collaborative platforms unify communication and collaboration tools. However, they have some disadvantages.
- No more juggling email, live chat, task manager, EDM tool and ESN.
- Collaborative management of innovative projects that generate radical innovations
- Fewer emails sent internally
- Centralization of information by project results in simplified project management, efficiency and increased productivity
- Presence of a collaborative workspace dedicated to each project
- Proximity of employees who have a messaging and social network to share information and collaborate
- Offered in SaaS, a dependency on the platform can be detrimental in the event of unavailability of the service
- The social dimension of the tool can distract individuals who want to be on the lookout for the latest news
- Instant messaging can be stressful between those who are waiting for an immediate response and employees who are scanning their messaging to respond instantly
Complementary solutions of work platform
Productivity applications Suite
Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
Document Management System
Idea & Innovation Management
Virtual Data Room (VDR)