Tech Tools: Work Together With Groupware
For companies with many locations or many employees, getting work teams together to work on projects, regardless of location, is imperative to ensuring business success. Technology can help, and with groupware tools designed to help workers collaborate, teams can work more efficiently and more effectively, anywhere, anytime, by connecting through a network.
Groupware is software that allows groups of employees to coordinate their work efforts and collaborate on projects. Groupware suites incorporate many pieces of software fulfilling many functions, including e-mail and instant messaging, group calendars, collective writing and document sharing with authentication technology for shared documents, various conferencing functions (audio and/or video), shared database access and content management, and so on. By using groupware tools to coordinate duties, schedules, communications and more, workgroups can function seamlessly, even if the individual employees are located in more than one office.
Many of the major players in the software industry offer suites of groupware products. One of the leaders in the space is IBM, with its Lotus product line (www.lotus.com). IBM Lotus Team Workplace (QuickPlace) 6.5.1 is designed specifically to help teams collaborate, providing secure workspaces for users on the Web, allowing team members to coordinate on projects. The software also includes search capabilities, instant messaging and Web conferencing, a team calendar and more. By adding IBM Lotus Notes and Domino to the mix, teams can build secure messaging, calendaring, scheduling and more.
Another key leader in the groupware and collaboration space is Microsoft with its Microsoft Exchange Server (www.microsoft.com/exchange). Exchange Server is used by many businesses for e-mail-based collaboration, and the 2003 Enterprise Edition also provides the ability to create multiple storage groups and databases.
Novell is also a major player in the groupware space with Novell GroupWise (www.novell.com/products/ groupwise/). GroupWise handles e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, contact management, document management and workflow services. The software works across multiple operating systems, including Novell NetWare, Windows NT/2000 and, with the latest version, both SUSE and Red Hat Linux. In the third quarter of 2004, Novell will also introduce Evolution 2.0, an e-mail and workgroup client for Linux systems, which will feature integrated support for Novell GroupWise 6.5 for Linux.
Oracle’s Collaboration Suite (www.oracle.com/col labsuite) uses a relational database to provide users access to integrated e-mail, voicemail, calendaring, file sharing, search and Web conferencing capabilities. In addition, the suite features flashback recovery in Oracle E-mail and Calendar, allowing Outlook users to recover deleted messages without help from an administrator, and it is available in 19 languages.
For those working in the open-source world, PHProjekt (www.phprojekt.com) is an open-source groupware suite, featuring a modular structure with different stages of privileges. It supports 25 languages and offers guided installation, update and configuration. Features of PHProjekt include a group calendar, project management, time card system, file management, contact management, a mail client, chats and forums, a to-do list, a search system and more.
DCASoft’s BrightSuite (www.brightsuite.com) comprises 25 application modules, including document management, wireless access, e-mail, directories, instant messaging, shared calendars, surveys, resource management, e-meetings, task management, conferencing and much more. BrightSuite runs on Windows operating systems.
Share360 by Cybozu (www.share360.com) is designed for small and medium-sized businesses or departments. It includes an address book, announcements, memos, notes, phone messages, WebMail, a to-do list, time sheet, scheduler and more. It allows users to access schedules, e-mail, memos, shared documents, projects, online forms and more through a Web browser. A 60-day trial is available for those who’d like to try the suite without the risk.
There are many other groupware suites and tools on the market. Check out some of these vendors’ offerings as well: