Collaboration is an integral part of modern business. We live and work in an increasingly connected world, so it stands to reason that we want quick and easy ways to share information with colleagues and clients. Whereas our predecessors would have posted files and documents, we are more accustomed to sharing information via digital platforms.

Sharing is crucial. The sharing of knowledge enables everyone within an organization to remain in sync with the latest developments. After all, it’s not helpful if one department is acting in isolation to the rest of the business, as is often the case within public sector organizations. However, it is essential that you create the right platform for sharing information.

Whatever method you use to share data and collaborate on shared documents, it needs to be easy to use. Always aim for the lowest common denominator, or you will run into problems with employees who struggle to grasp the basics or who can’t log-in to a shared interface. This is especially true when sharing information with clients who are not familiar with your business processes and systems.

DropBox

DropBox and other cloud storage services are very useful for small businesses. Anyone can open a DropBox and as long as you don’t need a huge amount of storage, it’s free. The beauty of DropBox is that you can share folders with colleagues and clients, which allows you to pass documents between two or more people. Any updates you make to a document in a shared folder is synchronized in the other person’s folder when their device is connected to the internet. DropBox is accessible from any internet enabled device, so you can upload documents or access files from anywhere.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a useful way to collaborate on shared spreadsheets and other documents. Changes to shared documents are tracked, so you can see who has made what changes. All changes are saved in real-time. The only downside is that you need to be online if you want to work on shared documents.

Newsfeed

A shared newsfeed is useful if you want your employees to share documents, images, and news articles. Anyone can upload a link or document for others to read, which creates a permanent feed of interesting and useful content.

Secure Data Room

There may be times when you want to share confidential documents with a client or other colleagues. A virtual data room is an ideal solution. One party sets up the virtual data room and then grants access to other individuals. Secure data rooms are typically used for sharing sensitive financial or legal data, corporate documents, and HR files.

Skype

If you need to collaborate in real-time, VoIP services like Skype are invaluable. Make a call to a colleague or client and invite others to join in the conversation. You can even use video chat if you prefer to see the people you are talking to.

Consider using a combination of all of the above for maximum effectiveness.