Collaboration Software: When So Many Choices Are Confusing

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 and many of its additional features are used in conjunction with 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 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, 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 (
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.
Editor’s analysis:
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.


About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, & Infusionsoft. Full bio at . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Gene

    we use HyperOffice, i wouldnt say it is internally focused. setting up extranets is as simple as setting up intranet workspaces. we use it extensively to set up extranet workspaces for our customers, which are password protected online “workspaces”, which we can brand with our customer’s logo etc, and can publish information, announcements, set up document libraries, shared calendars, manage joint projects, collaborate on documents, collaborate on wikis, set up customer polls etc. we found the “profiling” feature especially beneficial, as it allows us to hide information from certain group members depending on their role or profile.

  • Nadine

    I agree that finding the right collaboration tool is quite a job.
    but 2 good resources for this would be
    wikipedia PM tool list
    And alternatives for basecamp, which can be found at Basecamp sux.
    I found my perfect tool in DeskAway,

  • Lara

    Find a good project management software is very hard. Many of them are similar and very expensive.
    In my compny we have adopted Teamwork that is very powerful and cheap.
    So I suggest you to take a look at it!

  • Robert

    Good article. We looked at several different products. We recently started using the DRE Software BCN collaboration tool a few months ago.
    The BCN DRE Software is web-based business collaboration software that can be set up by anyone without the help of IT resources. They recently added web conferencing in the last release which has really saved us big budget dollars compared to the vendor we were using plus we get so many additional collaboration features to keep everyone working together.
    We use the BCN to collaborate with our customers, prospects, partners and other colleagues in a secure, personalized work space. It makes me wonder what we did without it. They gave us a free trial we used for all kinds of business scenerios
    that have work really well for us. We keep finding more and more ways to use it. We have gotten very positive feedback from our customers and I think it has really improved our response time with the email integration. We have the whole team on the same page. We have CRM but found there was a big hole that the DRE Business Collaboration Software filled without having to download any software we can access from anywhere and it has helped us solve issues with our offices in different time zones. Nothing but positive feedback from everyone. It’s a no brainer for us with the cost savings.

  • alvin

    Use for collaboration. ProofHub is web based project management and collaboration software. It is a great collaboration tool for businesses that helps exchanging the required information inside your teams and with your clients.

  • quillan bazon

    I totally agree with Alvin due to my personal experience. Now Proofhub handles all my projects and it’s really working well.