A robust, Web-based team space application.
For most projects it is helpful to have a single place to store common work products and project documentation. Traditionally this has been handled by simple file share servers. Newer technologies such as SharePoint or Lotus Notes allow teams to store work products in an easily accessible place for other team members to view and edit. For projects where people are collaborating on the same deliverable, this common space is critical. Some key features of these spaces that are important for virtual teams are
- Simple and fast—the interface should not require client installation (Web-based)
- Customizable – Easy customization by the end users allows team to adapt the tool to their specific needs
- Library functions—Check-in and check-out capability to ensure everyone is using the most recent version of a document
- Notifications—e-mail or IM notices when a document is modified
- Access control—Some mechanism for controlling who can modify a document to prevent accidental changes or deletions
Although team spaces are very valuable for team productivity, they also can quickly become useless due to the buildup of clutter over time. To keep this from happening, assign someone in the group who has good organizational skills to keep the team space clean and tidy. This includes things such as
- Cleanup—Removing or archiving outdated documents to make it easier for people to find the most current versions
- Version control—Maintaining a proper versioning system, either using the one built into the team space tool or by consistently naming the files with version indications such as ‘filename – v1.13‘
- Organization—Adding folders as the content grows and properly filing new documents so people can quickly find things
- Sorting—Moving less used or important material to lower levels in the folder heirarchy, keeping the most important material nearer to the top of the folder structure
For recommendations on good team space tools, see the team space tools topic.