- Modern collaborating tools allow for expertise from around the world to contribute to the successful conclusion of a project
- Every contribution that has been made is stored and shared from a custom database application that sits in the middle of the whole project
It is quite a rare occasion, indeed if it happens at all, for anyone to be able to complete a major project without a helping hand or external expertise being required. And when any project involves a global workforce there is always a custom database application sitting in the middle – or somewhere close to the center – where it can collect data from input devices and applications located on the periphery of the network.
Team collaboration and DIY
Although it might seem like an oxymoron, the terms “team collaboration” and “D.I.Y.” (Do it yourself), can actually be used in the same sentence without creating a contradicting message. In this case, for example, it is implied that people can work together using software solutions that they themselves can install, configure, and then use. They are connected together using independent software solutions of their choice.
The applications we will see next are all powerful enough to support complex tasks while using as little as possible in terms of computing resources in return. In some cases, the free versions of the applications offer the same services (albeit with a limited number of users). This allows users to try them out in real-life scenarios and production environments before they can commit to paying for their premium versions.
The 6 steps via online collaboration tools and applications
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the 6 steps any project will need to take to ensure the collaborative success of an online project (using collaboration tools or D.I.Y. online applications):
1. A custom database application
- Popular example: Kohezion online database
- Use: To store data that everyone will be working on
A Custom database application is a data storage server that sits in the middle of a cloud network with everything from online spreadsheets to the Internet of Things (IoT) being able to connect to it. Once the data has been processed and saved from one connected device or application, it can immediately be accessed by another one sitting on the opposite side of the network.
This image shows a typical design where a custom database application sits in the middle of a bevy of third-party applications that it would be built to accommodate and even integrate.
Kohezion serves as a platform that lets users create databases on them so they can then be used to serve as the cores of data sharing and storing projects. Even their free trial offer serves as an eye-opener as to how efficient their solution is in bringing systems that use diverse data storage and sources – like MS Excel and SQL – together.
2. A chat room or a place to meet
- Popular example: Slack
- Use: Serve as a platform for everyone to communicate across
Slack, a proprietary cloud-based collaboration tool, is one of the most popular workspace-and-communications applications out there.
This application can serve as the “home base” for project members and lets them chat in assigned rooms, share documents among themselves, and stay in contact around the clock.
When configured and utilized correctly, Slack can really feel like a real office environment complete with water cooler gossip and advanced communication, notification, and document-sharing features making it seem like another day at the office.
3. A document and spreadsheet repository
There is no project that can be completed without someone needing to note something down or save figures for future calculations and references. That is where these two cloud applications shine.
With Google’s Docs (for text content) and Sheets (for numerical data analysis) files can be shared individually or as a whole folder so everyone can add inputs or access what was shared by a colleague with complete ease and no version confusions.
When using the applications, users won’t have to worry about the security of their documents and spreadsheets. In contrast, those documents that are saved on their individual devices could end up being corrupted, not up-to-date (out of sync) or even stolen/tampered with by malicious entities.
4. A task and assignment tracker
- Popular example: Asana
- Use: Job progress monitoring and assignment scheduler
Collaborating workers always need to know what they have been assigned while team leaders and the bosses higher up must have a clear image of progress that is being made.
Asana helps the collaboration effort by organizing tasks, creating workflows, and scheduling projects, among many other things. It is a management tool that clearly shows how much progress – or otherwise – has been made via detailed dashboards and reports.
The project workers, on the other hand, can see what is scheduled for the future, and if they don’t like what they see, their team leaders are able to assign or reassign the tasks to other more fitting workers by simply dragging and dropping them.
5. A time tracker or HCM system
It goes without saying that everyone that works on a project does so with the hopes of getting monetarily compensated for their efforts – at every agreed milestone. To make sure workers are paid fairly, SMBs can use either of two applications:
- Bamboo HR is used to keep track of all the employees’ details and all other related Human Capital information that also needs to be stored – which is usually a requirement that comes with a staff that is hired on a permanent basis
- Hubstaff keeps track of the actual time that is being spent working on a project by monitoring the screen and keyboard activity of a worker – this is used to monitor the progress of remote hires who could be a freelance crew, for example
6. An application that will actually do the work
- Popular example: Application or dashboard of choice
- Use: Perform the jobs required by the user
Finally, we have the front-end applications that the user will use to do the actual work – whatever it may be. It, therefore, becomes the choice of the user to pick one that they will deem fit to meet all their requirements.
One thing that is certain, though, is that these applications of choice will be the actual programs (or suites of them) that will be used to access and work on the data that is in the custom database application. They can be divided into two major parts:
- Customized applications or programs that have specifically been created for working on the cloud database itself
- Control panels that will be used to have a more hands-on access of the database and all that is in it
Either way, the whole idea becomes: getting the work done with the help of software solutions that can connect to the database housing the data.
Advantages of online collaboration tools
Ok, we can see that these tools are really good at what they do; and yes, they also really do help with collaboration. But, what exactly are their overall advantages for any business – SMB or otherwise – that chooses to use them?
Well, the advantages of custom database applications and DIY online applications are captured in this handy infographic:
- Reeling in the smartest fish in the pool: Allowing for the IQ level involved in a project to rise as businesses can reach out to, and hire, people from all over the world.
- Location independence: People working on a project don’t have to be tied down to a specific location. Because, as long as there is an Internet connection, anyone can be allowed to join the project from anywhere on the planet.
- Streamlined data flow: All the data that is used during the project is stored on custom database applications that are built for cloud computing, while the applications connecting to them are designed to optimally retrieve, and store, data from them.
- Flexibility in manpower allocation: Grouping and assignment of team members is digitalized which makes it easy to assign and reassign them as needed. Their roles and privileges can also be controlled accordingly to ensure a secure working environment.
- Cost saving: A project that is run using DIY online applications will always cut costs as they eliminate (or drastically reduce) software, hardware, and overhead expenses.
- Improved brainstorming: When all members store and share their information centrally and communication flows smoothly across seamless platforms, a business can grow quickly using these tools as it creates a fertile ground for innovation.
The cumulative result is that any project which is tackled using custom database applications and other DIY online applications has a higher chance of being completed on schedule, on budget, and meeting all expectations along the way.
If you have had any doubts about team collaboration and DIY online applications – now you know!