When choosing software to use for collaboration, document management (and more) there are MANY services to choose from. There are small startups, there are big companies who have just started and then many companies and related services in between.
in our effort to keep bringing you the latest technologies and insights on how to use technology as a tool to grow your business, I asked Eric Hoffert, CEO of ShareMethods to help clear the air on how to choose which collaboration solution is best for your business. My analysis and advice follows his interview.
There are so many tools in the market – from free, to low cost to expensive that have a range of collaboration features – which one is best for you?.
ShareMethods, founded in 2003, is one of many collaboration solutions for you to consider. It has an impressive range of features enabling companies to have extensive control of how they share and manage documents. It integrates tightly with salesforce.com and many of its additional features are used in conjunction with salesforce.com. One of the features I like, that are not in some other collaboration tools, is the ability to do full text searches on shared documents. This feature is built into the main product, so if you are not a salesforce.com users, you’re going to be just fine.
Q: There are so many sharing services on the market – Office Live, Google Docs, Content Circles, Dropio and many others. How does a business choose which document sharing service is for them?
Many document sharing services are targeted as very broad, essentially as horizontal platforms where one size fits all. ShareMethods, in contrast, has focused vertically around the needs of sales and marketing teams and their partners. So a customer can choose a document sharing service not just based on features and pricing but also based on the level of specialization for their job function and or industry. Security is also an important consideration for many businesses.
ShareMethods for example is integrated with sales tools such as salesforce.com, Oracle CRM On-demand and the electronic signature service EchoSign so that a combined solution is designed to boost revenue and cut costs for sales and marketing teams at small businesses.
Q: Some of the traditional “online storage” companies are now or will be offering sharing and collaboration in the future, how does one use a sharing tool like ShareMethods with their traditional computer based file server or even online file server?
ShareMethods lets users to manage documents which may originate on laptops, file servers, or from external cloud based services. This is achieved through a browser based upload capability combined with a powerful desktop integration function using the worldwide webdav standard for document sharing. The desktop integration is called ShareDrive (http://sharemethods.com/products/sharedrive.html)
ShareMethods can sync files with external file servers and services using the webdav protocol plus users can batch upload or download documents to or from the desktop.
Furthermore ShareMethods is a cofounder of the Open Simple Application Mashup (OpenSAM) industry consortium a set of standards to foster interoperability across online office and document sharing applications.
So with ShareMethods there is considerable flexibility for working with both desktop and cloud based files, more powerfully than the competition.
Q: Companies like WebEx and HyperOffice have had virtual intranets for years, does ShareMethods compliment these offerings or compete with them?
Think of ShareMethods as more of a virtual extranet and a solution that is very strong for interconnecting many internal and external communities.
WebEx and HyperOffice are more internally focused. Plus these are horizontal offerings broadly targeted whereas ShareMethods is more CRM centric designed around document sharing and workflow needs for sales, marketing, and partners.
The best way to find the right solution for you is to try it out and get input from others who KNOW YOUR BUSINESS and can make an informed recommendation to you.
For example, I used 37Signals’ BaseCamp for a few weeks, and while it’s a great product and a favorite of John Jantsch’s of Duct Tape Marketing, I found it a bit too rigid for me.
Clearly, thousands of other customers are just fine with it. So there is no right or wrong, ti boils down to what is best for you and your employees.
Do keep in mind, you won’t be able to please everyone with every solution. But you do want to please most people with most of the features of the solution you choose.