Online Collaboration Software for Your Small Business

One study has shown that more than half of all small business owners collaborate on a daily basis and could benefit from online collaboration software. Despite this fact, very few small businesses utilize groupware or other web collaboration tools.

There are several difficulties in getting small businesses online to use the various collaboration tools that are available.

  1. Lack of awareness. Most businesses don't realize that there is a range of collaboration software solutions to help them run their businesses more effectively. Collectively, these tools are referred to as groupware, but most small business owners are not familiar with that phrase and don't even know how to go about looking for a solution. You won't find a collaboration software package at your local Business Depot.
  2. 2.The cost. Setting up a robust group collaboration system, like Microsoft Exchange, for example, is costly. You have to purchase servers and proprietary software and have the system set up and programmed for you.
  3. 3.Extensive IT requirements. You pretty much need to contract IT staff to manage your groupware servers for you. Most small business owners are overwhelmed with tasks coming across their desk and don't have the inclination or the knowledge to do this work themselves.
  4. 4.Integration with email. Email collaboration is likely the primary way business owners and their staff keep in touch internally and with customers and partners. Many online collaboration packages don't integrate well with Outlook and this poses a major issue.

Is there any way that a small business can benefit from online collaboration software given these obstacles? The answer lies in hosted groupware packages.

Pretzel Logic ( is an example of a company that makes online collaboration accessible to businesses of any size in the form of hosted groupware software.

A company like Pretzel Logic hosts the collaboration software on their servers and manages all aspects of the software for you. So there are no capital expenditures and no IT staff to contract for set up. If any troubles arise in using the system, you simply need to contact the company's support line rather than trying to find an IT firm to come in and resolve the issue.

This hosted online collaboration software is usually available as a monthly subscription with no long-term contracts required. And the fees are surprisingly inexpensive . costing less than $10 per month.

Groupware is an integrated set of applications that work together. So instead of having a contact manager, scheduling software, document storage and management, project management software and email running independently as different software packages, you have one integrated tool with everything in one place. And because the service is hosted remotely, you can access all your information from any place you have access to the Internet, whether that's at a cottage or onsite at a client's workplace.

Online collaboration software is going to be increasingly necessary for small businesses and hosted groupware will provide the solution they need.