Written by Serena Berger
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Groupware is software that assists colleagues and coworkers in organizing their work-related activities. Suites typically include software for scheduling meetings, file sharing, and password protection. Arguably the most common groupware application is an email program.

There are two main categories of groupware applications: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous applications, or real-time applications, allow multiple users to interact in real time. In contrast, asynchronous programs allow information to be disseminated through an organization, but users do not interact through them in real time.

Useful Groupware Applications

One of the most powerful asynchronous applications is a calendar program. If your company is using Microsoft Outlook for email, you can also take full advantage of the calendar and meeting scheduler. If your email program does not have a calendar feature built into it, you can purchase additional groupware applications. Be sure to find software that allows you to create not only a personal calendar with your own appointments, but also a group calendar that everyone in your company can see and to which they can contribute.

Word processing applications can have both synchronous and asynchronous features. Some programs allow multiple users to observe changes that are being made by others as the changes are made. Another common feature is the ability to track authors' changes and make comments, allowing workers to make changes at different times.

Instant messaging systems can be very beneficial to companies in which collaboration is common. Users can post messages in a chat room restricted to other team members. This synchronous groupware software can be easier to work with than having a conference call with each member sitting in and trying to figure out how to view necessary documents and work with them at the same time.

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