What Is Groupware?

Definition and Benefits of Groupware, Collaboration Software

SharePoint 2010 integrates with Microsoft Office
Photo © Microsoft

You might not know it, but if you're an office worker, you've probably used groupware before, even if you're not familiar with the term. "Groupware" refers to specialized software applications that enable users to share and sync information and also communicate with each other more easily. Sound familiar? Tools like Microsoft SharePoint and Basecamp both fall under the groupware definition. ~ Updated June 29, 2015

Benefits and Features of Groupware

Groupware allows both on-site workers and geographically dispersed team members to collaborate with each other over the internet or an internal network/intranet. These software applications typically provide many benefits: a centralized place for saving and accessing documents or files (along with document version and change management), shared calendars and task management, and communication tools, from instant messaging and video conferencing to white boards and message boards.

Besides connecting team members no matter when or where they're working, groupware apps serve as a virtual office hub--everything is stored, shared, and documented in one place, which makes finding information and sharing data so much easier than merely emailing everything or using traditional office tools like memos or faxes.

It's not just company employees who benefit from using groupware.

For entrepreneurs and freelancers, these tools enable easy file sharing, collaboration, and communication over projects with remote clients, all from the comfort of the home office.

Groupware Software Examples

IBM's Lotus Notes (or Lotus Software per IBM's Lotus website) was one of the earliest collaboration software suites and is still used in many offices today.

Microsoft SharePoint is another major groupware solution that's well-established in large enterprises.

In the last few years there's been a growing crop of web-based collaboration tools, including Basecamp, a popular paid project management tool starting at $49 per month, and Huddle, which offers a free but limited account and paid accounts (see our review of Huddle here).

Also Known As: collaboration software, collaboration tools

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