The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways in which we work with one another in so many ways. A lot of us have had to sit through many hours of calls on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, for example, and even though we’ve physically been apart, this shared experience has brought us closer together.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and another one that people have found has been team collaboration apps such as Trello, Asana or Jira. These fantastic tools allow team members to collaborate in real time, assign tasks to one another and generally stay on top of managing projects without having to be in the same room as each other.
It’s hard to see things going back to how they were pre-2020 now that we have these amazing online collaboration tools, so it seems like they are the present and the future. However, we can go one step further by developing bespoke team collaboration software from scratch.
But first, check out all the benefits of building collaboration software, and find out how to do it with some help from Selleo.
How does collaboration software for business differ from communication platforms?
Before we dive into how to create our own collaboration platform, we’ll need to define what that actually means and how it differs from a standard communication platform.
Communication tools are a broad spectrum of programmes that we’ve all been familiar with for many years. Pretty much any instant messaging app comes under this umbrella, such as Facebook Messenger or even WhatsApp.
Something that the pandemic has taught a lot of us about is collaboration software. On these tools, communication is the very base layer, as they take things several steps further by providing features such as sharing business data for project collaboration.
Here are some examples of project collaboration software that you might have seen before:
- Google Docs or Google Drive
So, why are collaboration apps essential for business?
Basic communication platforms such as instant messaging and video communication software can only go so far when it comes to collaborative task management. To really get the best out of a team remotely, any business needs team project management software.
Here are a few key features of collaboration apps that will prove how essential they can be to your business:
- Easy to stay on track: it might seem a bit hectic to have a whole bunch of people working on the same project at the same time at first glance, but any good team project management tools will allow you to see who made the edits, and what the project looked like before any edits were made.
- Perfect for distributed teams: your team members can literally be anywhere in the world while they collaborate in real time, provided that they have a stable internet connection and they are in a reasonable time zone!
- Reports: you should be able to quickly generate a list of all the activities associated with your project through the software you are using, which will save your team a lot of time in the long run. This also helps with the time tracking of the project.
- Quick actions: with a half-decent internet connection and computer processor, the time it takes for one user’s action to show up on another user’s device should be pretty much instantaneous. This is even the case on mobile apps.
- One place for documents: never have to worry about going searching through files stored locally on your hard drive again as all of the documentation associated with your project will be stored in the same place, on the cloud.
Collaboration App Market: Is there still room for a new product?
As you’ve probably been able to tell, the collaboration software market has become quite a saturated one throughout the last year or so as more and more apps are popping up all the time. But that’s just because the demand is so great.
So many companies that wouldn’t have even thought about online collaboration tools before the pandemic are using them as a staple part of their business now. To put into context how great the demand for this software is, the revenue in the sector is projected to reach a whopping $13,325,160 in 2021!
And that growth is not just going to stop there. Further projections for the sector show an annual growth rate of 7.15% which, if true, could result in a revenue of over $17,500,000.
A huge part of this revenue is generated in the United States. Almost half, in fact. The amount projected for the USA in the year of 2021 is a huge $6,676,000.
So, it’s fair to say that the answer to the question of whether there is room for a new collaborative project management tool is yes. Although, it probably wouldn’t be able to compete with the big boys. Instead, it would need to be a custom-made tool that finds a niche to suit your target audience.
Basing a piece of collaborative software on this would not only suit your company’s own needs in a more fine-tuned way than the generic tools such as Asana, but they could help out another startup or two along the way which, of course, would generate more revenue for your own business. Let’s check out how to get started on this.
How to build a collaboration app from scratch
Building custom-made, collaboration software from the ground up is no light work, but it might not be as difficult as you first thought. There are four key things to do in the planning stages of this process, and these are:
- Build a collaboration tool MVP: after you’ve put down your initial ideas of what you want from your app, it’s time to build a minimum viable product. You could create this in the form of a mobile app so that it requires the least amount of programming and the minimum of features.
- Build your development team: in all walks of business life, choosing the right people to work on your project with you is key. As a startup founder, you’ll know this already. Just remember that it’s as important for software development as it is for any other area of the growth of your business.
- Decide on a tech stack: which technologies are you going to use throughout the development of your app? There are all kinds of helpful tools out there that will be endlessly helpful to the process, so do your research here so that you can choose wisely.
- Consider UX/UI design: having an app that looks good is just as much about being appealing to potential consumers at face value as it is about being easy to use once you actually get into it. It’s no good having a tonne of cool features if no one knows where to find them.
10 must-have features of a good collaboration platform
But what exactly does a team project management app need to include? Learning and fully understanding the key features could be the difference between a super successful or a failed project.
- Search - we mentioned UX and UI earlier on, and how users should be able to find all of the features of the app with ease. One of the easiest ways for them to do this is through a search tool. Take Mac OS Spotlight, for example. The whole operating system would be nowhere near as easy to use without it.
- Chat - naturally, team members should be able to communicate with one another quickly and efficiently throughout their team collaboration.
- Voice and video calls - chat is great to have open alongside the project collaboration but sometimes, you’re going to want to check in for a team meeting and be able to see each other face to face as well as hear one another’s voices. Video conferencing tools allow you to see that everyone is on the same page.
- Screen sharing - this is a great tool for troubleshooting an individual team member’s issues, or working on a specific sub-task together. It saves a lot of time in having that team member simply describe what they are seeing on their screen!
- Cloud-based storage - we talked earlier about how having all of the documentation for your project in one place makes organisation much easier.
- File sharing - moving on from that, being able to share files and folders accessible to the whole team can open up a lot of potential and time-saving. You should also be able to make certain folders visible by certain people only in the interest of privacy and security.
- Notifications (mobile and desktop) - as well as mobile notifications and notifications within the desktop app, you should consider implementing browser notifications for users who are running the app through their browser. All users should be able to receive instant notifications when required.
- 3rd party integrations - you can take your app one step further by allowing it to integrate with a 3rd party, such as the operating system it is being run on and the apps included within that. These include tools such as calendars, reminders and notes.
- Assigning - make sure that whoever is running the project, whether that be yourself or another team leader/project manager, is able to appoint certain tasks to certain team members. This means you can get the best out of an individual's particular skill sets. A great tool for inspiration for this is Asana.
- Security - assume that you, or other people, will be using your tool to handle sensitive information so having top-tier security is crucial for this type of application.
Alongside these, you should try to integrate some form of customer support so that if the users of the application have any issues, they can get support. A further good idea would be a system to allow the team leader to allow certain permissions to individual team members.
For example, only the leaders of the project may wish to pin messages, edit titles or add and remove members. And when it comes to video conferencing, most people will want the option of being able to turn off everybody’s microphones and webcams as we are used to seeing on the likes of Zoom.
So, consider adding the option of admin privileges to those whose project it is, plus some moderators for the level below of privileges. These team members will likely be able to control some aspects of the project development, but not be able to make over-arching decisions like changing the privileges.
How we create collaboration tools for our clients
At Selleo, we’ve put together some bespoke pieces of collaboration software for high-profile clients. With the highly-tailored tools we helped them to create, these clients have upgraded their means to collaborate tenfold.
Check out some examples of our work below.
- 9Teams: the SaaS collaboration tool that 9Teams asked for our help with allows for large teams to work together, and with stakeholders!
- Future Technology House: UX and UI were the key focuses of the pitch we received from Future Technology House, and the final product was certainly a beautiful one that was super easy for teams of all sizes to engage with.
- Samewave: lightning fast, versatile and visually striking. Business management software company Samewave needed those three things from their collaborative tool, and we delivered.
Building your own remote collaborative project management software might seem like a monumental task but when you break it down into its key features and planning stages, it is definitely achievable. And the rewards are absolutely worth it.
You’ll be able to fine-tune the software to be unique to what you want from it. Think about any projects that you are working on, or even the direction you want your business to be travelling in as a whole, and tailor the collaboration app design to suit that.
All you’re going to need is a strong USP (that’s up to you) and a software company to outsource the design work to. Someone that can really bring your vision to life.
That’s where Selleo comes in. With over 15 years of experience in web and app design of all kinds of forms, we’re more than well suited to be able to implement the highest quality version of the collaborative app you are looking to build.
Once you’ve thought about what you want from your app, reach out to us for a consultation to find out what we can do for you.