Which tools do I use most to collaborate?

Its the time of year to reflect so I hope to find time to write several posts which show how I collaborate.  I hope this will help others and also hope to read how you work also.  I thought I’d start with a table showing the tools I use in the order I think I use them.  In this post I have concentrated on the top 5 technologies but will definitely post information about how I collaborate within meetings in more detail:

Position Collaboration Tool My Views on that tool
1 Email Email remains the only truly federated communication tool for inter-enterprise, intra-enterprise and personal communication facilitating collaboration.
2 Instant Messaging Presence for me is the most important feature which instant message solutions provide.  IM for me is the tool I’d lose last, you could take email first provided the federation issue is overcome.  I hope in 5 years communication between enterprises with IM will be as simple as email is today.
3 Audio and Web Conferences The bane of all our lives!  However I do see a great improvement in the electronic conference rooms but dream of the day we can all join a call and web meeting on time :-)  I’ll talk more about meetings in a future post.  Without them I certainly couldn’t share information or attain information in the global world we all work in.
4 Team Rooms Team rooms are my publishing mechanism for documents ready to leave my machine for review and collaborate with documents.  I don’t find I use team rooms for calendar functionality, planning or task management for me it is purely a text/document collaboration tool with discussion capability.
5 Wikis Why 5th, why team rooms above?  Well wikis for me are an excellent tool when used for the correct purpose.  The problem I find with wikis is that normally when you are co-creating a document there is a defined format for your deliverable.  If the format you are required to deliver isn’t a wiki then in most cases I just find the wiki adds too much work at the end in terms of copy and paste and trying to move the free flowing hyper-linked wiki into a fixed flowing document.  If however you can use the wiki itself as the deliverable then I can find no better tool to use.

One I’ve missed here is my blog.  Now funnily I don’t treat my posts as collaboration, that may sound strange but in reality I feel the real power of this blog is the community of contacts it enables, and with those contacts I do collaborate but generally using other methods.  Don’t get me wrong I treat blogs as an important collaboration platform and I treat the blogs I read as tools to collaborate but this blog is my voice, it generates comments and then I collaborate through other channels.  This reflects another point, we all think of collaboration slightly differently and that is one reason I love working in this field, it is the diversity of people, views and technologies.

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  1. Interested in the list. I agree with your sequence, though I feel that many of the documents I work upon should be better done as wikis due to the constantly changing nature and the need to better show the history of decisions and choices made.

    The main thing, and especially true on conferences, is the human protocols – establishing and agreeing on the means of conducting such calls. Two of my specific banes about conference calls are – inviting far too many people (because its easy and perceived as cheap to do); and not being able to get a word in.

    Finally, the blog is more of a broadcast for people to read/listen/watch and reply (like this) if they want. I would not treat that as collaboration in the basic sense.


  2. Interesting, for me IM is higher up the list, because in my experience email exchanges are generally much less effective than IM exchanges. I also much prefer wiki’s I think portals are rubbish for publishing, as they tend to focus on static documents with little context/comment, for me context is key to effective publishing. I also find my blog is pretty important. Please keep publishing this type of post, very useful.


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