What collaboration tools do you use? Survey Results

Learn more about how collaboration tools work in my book How people use collaboration and online tools at work to manage projects?
I wanted to know the answer so I asked my community. Here are the results. They weren’t as I expected…
The survey was used as input for my book Collaboration Tools for Project Managers (now a PMI bestseller).

What are collaboration tools?
1. Are you using collaboration tools for your projects?
2. Why use collaboration tools?
3. What are the benefits of collaboration tools?
4. What tools do your use?
5. Who uses them?
6. Are collaboration tools a way to improve your work efficiency?
7. Do you plan to continue using them in the future?Notes
Further Reading

Need help choosing a tool

What are collaboration tools?
Before we dive into the survey results, let us agree on what we are discussing.
Collaboration can be simply defined as “to work together to achieve something.”
When you collaborate you:
Communicate with another person, group, or team, including potentially third parties and other organizations
Share a common purpose
Do something.

Although collaboration could be viewed as a fancy new term for “teamwork,” I believe it goes beyond that. Collaboration doesn’t mean working with people outside of your team.
Many project teams today rely on suppliers and other external parties to help them. The level of collaboration, knowledge sharing, debate and creativity that it offers, teamwork is not adequate.
Teamwork is when you work under the guidance of a leader. Collaboration often happens in non-hierarchical settings.
Project managers are no longer responsible for managing people and tasks. They create environments that allow people to do their best work and help achieve corporate goals.
Collaboration tools are what we use for that. These tools don’t necessarily have to be software. However, many teams choose to work online and tap into the incredible talent pool outside of their local commute zone. Cloud-based and online solutions are a popular option.
How are online collaboration tools used? Here are the results of the survey.
1. Are you using collaboration tools for your projects?
I expected that the vast majority of people would say yes. It’s much more common than it was when I started researching social media and project managing in 2009.
94% of respondents said they use collaboration tools at their workplace for project management. Only 6% of respondents said they don’t.
2. Why use collaboration tools?
Most people use collaboration tools to share documents (27% of respondents said that they did so).
Communication was the second most popular reason, with more than one fifth of respondents saying that they used it for communication. The second most popular response was to work with internal stakeholders, which claimed 20% of the pie.
The other results were similar:
Schedule or assign work: 17%
11% of the work with external stakeholders
Other: 3%

I expected the ‘other’ category would be higher. Some of the responses include:
As a knowledge base
for lessons learned
Transparency and audit trails
Document control/version control was mentioned several times.

3. What are the benefits of collaboration tools?
The greatest benefit of using collaboration tools is the ease of finding information (33%).
25% of respondents said that collaboration tools help them build a sense of community.
Only 18% of respondents to my 2011 survey said that improved team morale was one benefit of using social and collaborative systems at work.
This is a good sign that businesses are improving their ability to make virtual teams more efficient.
Other results were:
21%: No clutter in your inbox
Experts respond faster
Other: 8%, including responses like having one source for the truth, staying organized and visually displaying information.

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