Team collaboration software: A buyer’s guide

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
May 14, 2024
An image with a photo showing a woman making notes with a pen and paper, and an illustration on the right showing a person balancing several objects
Team collaboration software: A buyer’s guide
Written by 
Bryan Kitch
May 14, 2024

Nearly three in five knowledge workers have actively thought about leaving their current positions or already applied for new jobs. ‘But why??’ You're probably asking.

The answer: Bad teamwork.

But wait — there's some good news! Team collaboration software can help make teamwork easier and more streamlined, regardless of where you are. 

But wait again! Before you go signing up for the first collaboration platform you see, let's take a step back and figure out what you really need.

It’s easy to get excited about new software and its promises, but without understanding your team’s specific needs and requirements, you might end up with a tool that doesn’t quite fit the bill.

Whether you’re a small team or a big one, whether you work from home or an office, this guide will help you find the best team collaboration software for your specific needs.

What is team collaboration software?

Team collaboration software is any kind of digital platform that helps your team communicate, work together, and become more efficient. Think of these platforms as your virtual office space where you chat, share files, assign tasks, and track projects. 

Collaboration software makes your work easier by bringing everything you need for exceptional teamwork into one convenient platform. You can quickly shoot off a message to a colleague, hop on a video call with your entire team, or collaborate on a document in real time, no matter where you are. No wonder Gartner predicts the social and collaboration software market will grow from $3.5 billion in 2019 to $6.9 billion in 2024. 

Not convinced yet? Let’s take a closer look at the types and benefits of online collaboration tools. 

Messaging apps

Need a quick answer or want to bounce ideas off a colleague? Messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams allow you to reach out and collaborate in real time without the hassle of following email chains or scheduling meetings.

Think of these platforms as your virtual office water cooler, always buzzing with activity. From sharing memes to celebrating milestones, they’re instrumental in building and nurturing your team culture.

Project management tools 

Let’s face it: Projects can be chaotic. But you can bring order to this chaos with project management tools that help you break down complex tasks into manageable chunks. You can assign responsibilities and track progress so your team knows what needs to be done, and when.

These tools also help to streamline workflows and automate repetitive tasks.

Virtual meeting tools

Even if you have a geographically dispersed workforce, virtual meeting tools bring everyone together in one digital space. You can hash out ideas, share screens, and high-five each other through the screen. 

These solutions also promote inclusivity through features like closed captioning, screen sharing, and live transcription, ensuring everyone participates.

Related: Use this template to lead better hybrid meetings with Mural

Visual collaboration software 

Ideas are a dime a dozen. But turning them into reality? That’s where visual collaboration comes in — a digital canvas where your team brainstorms, plans, and collaborates visually.

The best visual collaboration software (think: Mural) offers endless templates for free to let your creativity run wild.

Document collaboration platforms

Solutions like Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, and Dropbox Paper are digital libraries where your team collaboratively creates, edits, and finalizes documents. Document collaboration platforms make sure that everyone works from the same playbook, with real-time updates and a single source of truth.

6 key features to look for in workplace collaboration software

With so many collaboration software options out there, finding the perfect fit is no less than searching for a needle in a haystack. Worry not! We’ve narrowed down the six key features you should look for in the best team collaboration software. 

1. Real-time communication capabilities

Team collaboration tools offering real-time messaging, chat, and video conferencing capabilities ensure your team can communicate instantly and make prompt decisions. Look for features such as threaded conversations and @mentions within chat channels to improve collaboration.

Tools with collaboration features like presence indicators or status updates provide valuable context about your team members’ availability and help avoid disruptions by signaling when someone's busy or away.

2. Integration options with existing tools

Choose collaboration software applications that integrate smoothly with your existing tools, such as email apps, calendar applications, project management tools, and cloud storage services.

Mural’s seamless integrations with different apps save you from the headache of entering data manually and doing double the work. Let's say your team brainstorms a new marketing campaign in Mural, complete with visuals, ideas, and action items. With Mural's integration with project management tools, each idea can be automatically turned into a task card in your preferred tool, complete with all the relevant details and attachments.

3. Security and data protection measures

Look for collaboration software like Mural that offers robust trust and security features like: 

  • Identity and access management
  • Data protection 
  • Information governance
  • Collaboration controls & insights

If your organization operates in regulated industries, make sure the platform complies with regulations like GDPR or CCPA.

4. User interface and ease of use

When picking collaboration software, think about how easy it is to use. Look for features such as intuitive navigation and drag-and-drop functionality, so you can easily find and move things the way you like. 

And hey, let’s not forget about mobile optimization. Because who wants to be tied to their desk all day? With a mobile-friendly platform like Mural, you collaborate on the go.

Related: Welcome to Mural: how to get your team started

5. Customization and scalability

The best software for collaborative work lets you put your stamp on things. It should allow you to whip up custom templates tailored to your team’s specific needs. Explore the following Mural templates for improved teamwork: 

You also need to consider scalability. Imagine your team is growing, your projects are multiplying, and your data is piling up. You need workplace collaboration software to keep up with the pace without breaking a sweat. Select a platform that can handle ‌growing users and increasing data volumes without compromising performance.

6. Task management and project tracking

Look for employee collaboration software that offers robust task management capabilities, including task assignments, deadlines, progress tracking, and status updates. You can use Mural’s free and editable Kanban board to get visibility into project timelines and dependencies. This template helps you prioritize tasks and allocate resources efficiently.

Effective task management and project tracking features help you keep projects on track and increase accountability within the team. 

Considerations when purchasing collaboration software for teams

To find the perfect fit for your team, make sure to:

Assess your team’s needs

Take stock of your team’s unique requirements, workflows, and pain points. Ask questions like: 

  • What challenges are you currently facing in collaboration and communication? 
  • What's your team’s preferred communication channel?
  • What features and functionalities will improve productivity and efficiency? 

This way, you can narrow down your options and find a solution that meets your specific requirements. 

Account for budget constraints when assessing collaboration software for teams. Consider upfront costs, such as licensing fees or subscription plans, as well as long-term costs, such as maintenance, support, and training. 

Research and compare options

Dive into your detective mode and see what others are saying about different collaboration apps. Negative reviews help you avoid potential pitfalls. Learning beforehand about possible drawbacks — from poor customer support and technical glitches to missing features — allows you to make a more educated decision. 

Don’t forget to take advantage of demos or free trials to test drive the software. Check out key features and functionalities to evaluate usability and how it aligns with your team’s workflows.

Make the final decision

Create a list of preferred options that best align with your requirements and objectives. Next up, get the squad involved and gather feedback from your team members who’ll be using the software day in and day out. 

You need to evaluate the cost versus benefits of each option. Think of it like comparing the price of a fancy coffee to the boost in productivity it gives you — it’s all about finding that sweet spot of value for money.

Monitor and review your software choice

Once you’ve got your collaboration software up and running, it’s time to keep an eye on how it’s performing. Measure metrics such as user adoption rates, engagement levels, task completion times, and overall team productivity. 

Schedule regular check-ins with your team to ask what’s working well, what’s not, and any suggestions for improvement. Show your team that their input matters. After all, 63% of knowledge workers consider leaving the company if they don’t see teamwork improve.

Get the best team collaboration software with Mural

Ready to take real-time collaboration to the next level? Mural is the ultimate team collaboration software. You can brainstorm, plan, and create anytime, anywhere, on any device. Whether your team is working from the office, home, or a beach in Bali, Mural brings everyone together in one virtual space. 

What’s more? You can customize your workspace, choose from hundreds of cool (free) templates, and make it your own. 

Sign up with Mural today for free and watch your team’s creativity soar.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.