Meeting Collaboration Software: How the right conferencing solution can improve organizational efficiency

Team manager engaged in a video conference with team members

Conferencing technology has changed the way businesses and teams meet—it’s formed the backbone of great tools that allow sharing and collaboration to happen from anywhere in the world. 

It’s official: offices and high-level project workflows have broken traditional physical barriers. The social collaboration that was once limited to in-person interactions in office environments is now possible thanks to tablets, home computers, and mobile devices. 

These communication tools have given rise to the virtual office. They allow team members across departments in almost any business to easily increase their productivity and output. It’s no longer a struggle to book travel or waste time on commutes to get to a meeting you end up barely having time for. 

Not having to wait on participants to arrive or having to set up a physical meeting room means you have more time to communicate and collaborate with your team on projects. 

For example, imagine you’re running up against a deadline for an extensive project. If this were a physical meeting, you’d have to stop what you’re doing early to go set up a conference room and wait for everyone’s arrival. With a digital meeting, you can work longer—and start up the conference call with just a click or two.

Different collaboration tools do distinct things. Some offer high-quality video, while others stick to just audio and chat. Ultimately, it’s up to you to select one that has all the collaborative features your business would need the most.

Why use meeting collaboration software tools?

Online collaboration tools make team tasks and projects easier. If you need clarification on project details or direction on how to best handle something, you can call someone on your team. The calls can be short yet detailed, allowing team members to share their screens for additional visibility. 

Improved internal communications is now a reality thanks to collaborative tools like the ones we’ll be talking about in a bit. A good team collaboration app makes discussions much easier and streamlined than they would be over email or sometimes even in person. 

Work in a big company? You no longer have to navigate a massive office space, find where your coworker is sitting, and interrupt their workflow. Nor do you need to send out an email and hope to get a reply within the hour. In the past, you may have had to send multiple emails. 

With collaboration tools, you can instantly message someone and even upload files in the same app so anyone can access them—that’s the power of enhanced internal communications. (You can even hold virtual team building or any other virtual event!).

Still, despite all of its advantages, online collaboration can throw some unique problems into the mix—if you don’t have the right tools for business. For example, many online collaboration tools have a larger online team focus. If a smaller team were to use these tools, they would feel overwhelmed by the choices and realize they’re overpaying for features they would never use.

The idea is to select online collaboration software that works well for your type of business. One that will provide you with the features needed to thrive in your niche. HD video might not be so much of a need for your team, but it might be for other remote team workflows.

What are meeting collaboration software tools used for?

Collaboration tools have several uses in business. Some are all about providing a virtual office space that anyone can enter and leave as they please. Others are more presentation-driven. Communications tools are useful when information needs to be relayed to many people at once.

Chat Capabilities

Tools like chat software helps teams communicate quickly yet effectively, going over details in half the time it would take in a regular physical meeting. With the added chat software feature that typically accompanies these conference calling tools, team members can clarify questions without disrupting the meeting.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing software takes this to the next level. It allows for more visual collaborative work while you still have the team chatting option if you need to have multiple conversations at the same time. 

This type of software is ideal for teams that need to share visuals often. Businesses in almost every industry, from advertising to design, to photography can benefit from video conferencing.

Project Management

Other services focus more on project management. Project collaboration software tends to offer features that allow users to organize tasks and oversee more granular details in projects. Whether you’re working with marketing teams or product teams, these project management platforms and management tools will cover all your needs.

Cloud-based Collaboration

The last primary tool is a platform that allows for file sharing and collaboration. These sharing tools allow users access to file storage and document collaboration features. Cloud-based collaborative tools like these help with asset management so business owners or practically anyone in the company can find files relevant to whatever they’re working on. You might want a collaborative solution like Glip, which offers secure and unlimited cloud storage.

What all these tools have in common is that they’re intended to make real-time collaborative work easier when you aren’t physically together as a group. This provides some unique benefits that help streamline complicated tasks and turn them into easy projects. 

For instance, a team communication platform enables web conferencing participants to share files and get responses to essential questions faster than you would over email or even in person.

What’s the best way to make use of meeting collaboration software tools?

There are many types of collaboration tools. Some cover all the bases, while others stick to one function. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to find at least a handful of tools and narrow down your search.

The most basic use is as a team communication platform that allows dispersed or remote teams to collaborate verbally, visually, and through text. Audio and video conferences, along with instant message features, make web conferencing tools the quickest way to relay any kind of information. For large teams or teams with members in different locations, there’s nothing else that streamlines remote work so well.

Other tools can be used as a management platform for teams. This type of project management software is ideal for teams who tackle many projects or large projects with many people involved. If you need to check on assigned tasks and the progress of teams and individuals, this kind of management software would be a perfect choice for you.

You might also see online collaboration tools that work with secure file sharing. These let your team view and upload files and resources. When time is of the essence, content management can keep things moving smoothly because files are organized—not just shared. Less time is spent answering questions and resolving mistakes when content is not only accessible but neatly organized.

Some tools take all these facets and put them into a collaboration suite, giving you a true unified communications tool. Think of it as a hub for getting work done online. You can host video conferences and reference documents shared on the online collaboration software, and you can check on progress as you’re discussing an online project. This streamlines the process and saves time since you can do just about everything from one application.

Screen showing an ongoing team chat and a list of files that have been shared

What is the best team collaboration software?

The best team collaboration tools come down to what your business does. With all the options, it might seem costly to try all of them out. Luckily, just about every service offers a free plan or a free trial. This lets you shop around first for free.

There’s no perfect solution for every team, but there’s one for your team. The best software for you is the one that does everything you need it to. Just make sure to avoid choosing something only because it has a lot of features. If they’re features that you’ll never use, that can lead to you spending a lot of money on things you don’t need.

Whatever collaborative platform you decide on, the best place to start is with free collaboration software. Chances are that you won’t stick with free software, but there’s always a possibility that you find one that does everything you need.

What is the purpose of free online meeting collaboration software?

Free online collaborative tools offer many features that could help your business. They usually allow for basic team communication through audio and video conferencing and sometimes text. Some offer file sharing and cloud storage, but most don’t.

Though they have some useful features, they tend to lack many more. Most have lower participant limits and lower time limits for meetings. They also lack app integrations and rarely offer mobile apps. For many companies that need these features, this can negatively affect productivity and almost defeat the purpose of the tool.

Every service offers something similar, but many focus on specific niches. While they should all help your business, there’s always a service that’ll help you the most. The best tool depends on what you do, so consider a few questions when choosing:

  • How many participants do you have on average?
  • Do you prefer to communicate through audio, video, or text?
  • Do you share different types of files often?
  • Do your team members need access to a large number of files?
  • Are there any apps that you need your software to integrate with (e.g. Google Calendar and Salesforce)?
Remote employee working on a team task from her balcony

What are some advantages of free meeting collaboration software?

The best aspect of free online collaborative software is that they allow you to shop around without spending any money. A free tool might not include all the features you need, but there’s usually enough to get an idea of how the tool works before you start charging the subscription fee to your credit card.

With free meeting collaboration software, you can expect a few useful features in your online meetings:

  • Reasonable participant limit
  • Video conferencing
  • File storage on a cloud platform
  • Screen sharing
  • Basic host controls
  • Text chat

Aside from the fact that they let you shop around for free, free collaboration tools aren’t great for everyone. They’re also not intended as a solution for most businesses. They work more like a demonstration or a teaser, so you can subscribe to a plan if you like what you see.

Why is paid meeting collaboration software worth the investment?

Paid online meeting collaborative software is probably the best option for most businesses. Each one focuses on a specific niche, and they all offer unique online communication and collaborative features to stay competitive.

What are a few examples of features that make paid software worth the investment?

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. This is especially true with meeting collaboration software. When you make the investment, you can get features that might be essential for your business. You can expect these, and more, with many services:

  • Developer platform
  • Analytics reports
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Call log reports

Besides different tools, service providers also offer unique plans. You can go for more barebones plans to get the essentials, or you can go all out to get everything the service has to offer. Mid-range plans might also work, especially for businesses that don’t qualify as large yet but are more developed than a startup.

There might be other features that your business needs, though. Then you can start looking at some more expensive plans that offer more specific features. The most expensive plans usually offer a few, very specific benefits that are only relevant to a handful of businesses. To those businesses, some of these features are well worth the extra cost:

  • Device status alerts and reports
  • Call handling features like overflow call queues and user groups
  • Extensions with site codes
  • Single sign-on (users can log in with corporate credentials)

Whatever you choose depends on what your business does. You know what you specialize in and how you collaborate with your team, so you have a clear idea of the features you need. There’s no one-size-fits-all collaboration tool. But there’s definitely one that will empower your employees best and fit your business operations perfectly.

Team members engaged in a video meeting

What is the best meeting collaboration software for your business?

There’s no best online collaborative solution. But there is one that works best for your business. They all offer something different, but there are some features they share that would help just about any business:

  • High participant limit
  • Unlimited file sharing
  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • Text-based chat
  • HD audio and video calling
  • App integrations
  • Web and mobile app capabilities (to allow for mobile collaboration on any operating system)
  • Screen sharing

Whichever collaboration tool you choose, you’re never locked in. There are many suitable options available, so if one option can’t resolve your team’s pain points and make your employees’ lives easier, another tool could help.

If you’re looking around for a collaboration tool that fits your business and increases employee engagement, consider Glip by RingCentral. It gives you plenty of features to explore for FREE.