Archive for May, 2010

Veteran Saas Collaboration Software Suite releases biggest upgrade ever

Today marks a major milestone in our company history, as we release a modern interface built with on AJAX. This release is a culmination of more than a few years of feedback from hundreds of thousands of our customers. As of today our flagship product, HyperOffice Collaboration Suite has two versions available simultaneously, referred to as the Classic version and the Modern version.  We expect that some of our customers have become accustomed to the Classic version and may not need the additional features which the new version affords, and will continue to support the classic version for the foreseeable future.

So what’s new? Here are some highlights, or you can check out this video.

- Modern Intuitive Design and User Interface

- New Color Calendar System

- Simple Customization and Branding

- Easier Administration and Onboarding

- Robust Project Management System

- New Wiki and Site Publisher

What did we do differently this time?

Since our humble beginnings in 1998, the way teams collaborate has undergone many transformations. As our target customers, small businesses and distributed teams, began to embrace new ways to work, we added new capabilities to our core messaging and collaboration suite. For example wikis became popular, and we added group wikis, people wanted more sophisticated project management tools,  so we beefed that up, road warriors wanted calendars and emails pushed to their mobile devices, so we rolled out HyperSynch, web conferencing became the norm, in comes HyperMeeting.

As you can imagine when you make so many improvements incrementally things may not gel as well as they could. 3 years ago we took a fresh look at our product and began planning for these developments. Along the way we proactively collected feedback from our customers on improvements which needed to be made. With today’s version, you will notice a fully integrated suite of collaboration and messaging tools that fit together elegantly , while being the most comprehensive in the market and simple to use.

Once we re-architected HyperOffice from the ground up, we interviewed customers, went on a many road trips to meet our clients in person.  We also stood up a Product Development Committee which is exclusively made up of customers who we meet with on a regular basis. They help us prioritize our roadmap, get specific feedback on features, designs, etc. Lastly, we spent 6 months in beta on the new version.

So here we are. A new and improved collaboration suite from one of the first SaaS companies in the market, laser focused on collaboration software and meeting the unique needs of the small medium sized businesses.  We thank our loyal customers tremendously for believing in our product, our company, and being so innovative to embrace the cloud before the tipping point as cloud computing moves into the masses.

We are proud to make such significant improvement without having to charge our customers a dollar more for all the new features or move to the new version. I think this is one of the most incredible things about the SaaS model.  It just gets better over time – for free!

Over the summer you will see more improvements aimed at helping customers adopt our product easier with usability improvements and adding customer requested features every couple months.

6 Essential Collaboration Software Tools

puzzlehandshake-300x230pxAlmost every passing day, someone launches a new solution under the banner of “collaboration software” adding to the myriad solutions already in the market, most of which are about as similar as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Besides there is a lot of high level, almost academic talk of the growing importance of  “real time” collaboration, “social software”, and “emergent structures”.  All this makes sense, as we have to wrap our minds around the dynamic forces at play in the business world, and find new ways to conceptualize and make sense of these forces.

But a no nonsense, pragmatic, on-the-ground picture also makes sense. This is because all the high level talk is not understandable to small business users, nor do they have the time and inclination to find out.

This blog post lists out the collaboration software tools that teams around the world are using in their day-to-day activities, tools which are easily recognizable and widely acknowledged for their effectiveness. These are: -

Email. Email has weathered recent attempts (read Google Wave) to topple it from its coveted position of the most loved software tool of information workers. In spite of being the grand daddy of software tools, email continues to be a big hit with teams. Almost everyone uses email to communicate, discuss issues, send files back and forth, manage tasks etc. A Jan 2010 study by Cisco found that 91 percent of the respondents use email most frequently for collaborating with others.

It is a different question whether or not email is the most efficient tool for collaboration, but try telling that to its fan base!

Document Collaboration. Documents are indeed at the heart of every company’s processes. Everything in organizations – orders, contracts, product design, specifications, marketing materials, policies, procedures, and strategies – is captured in a document of some kinds. To effectively manage documents, a company needs to achieve the following:-

-    To organize, store, secure, and backup documents.
-    To access them, and be able to sort and search information as needed.
-    Control who has access to which documents and what they can do with them.
-    To enable workers to work together on the same document.

A document management system enables a company to do the above.

Shared Workspaces. Shared workspaces are a virtual hub where each team can access team-related information. It is a combination of HTML pages and collaboration tools where team members can access and share files, coordinate schedules, manager joint tasks, have discussions and where team managers can publish announcements and share policy documents etc. Not only do shared workspaces help teams work better, they also serve as a forum where team members can be motivated and team spirit fostered.

Task Management. Scattered teams need a way to manage joint tasks where the efforts of team members have inter dependencies. Task management tools help a manager keep track of tasks and projects where he/she can assign tasks and responsibilities, set timelines, set sequences of activities, attach resources that will be needed for the tasks and track progress.

Task management tools also encourage transparency and allow a central view into team tasks where everyone can see what everyone else is doing.

IM. Sometimes team members across locations need to discuss issues in real time and need instantaneous inputs from others. IM or instant messaging allows team members to exchange text messages in real time.

Web Conferencing. The above collaboration tools all have their usefulness, but no team can completely do away with the human touch. But on the other hand, with globally scattered teams it may not be viable for everyone to meet in person.

Web conferencing or online meetings enable teams to interact using voice, video and other conferencing tools.  Team members can use their computer or phone to have virtual conferences on the go with large or small groups. This helps in team building, motivating employees and brainstorming issues. Tools like screen sharing, application sharing, file distribution etc. help make web meetings more effective. People also use web conferencing to hold virtual training sessions or sales seminars where anybody can listen in and participate even while sitting at home.

Traditionally, the above tools have been offered as separate solutions. But today, the thrust is towards integrated solutions where users can find all their tools in a single, convenient place, and benefit from data flowing freely between different tools. HyperOffice also aims at bringing such integrated solutions to its small business customers.