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Disadvantages of Group Collaboration Software

written by: Ada Stoy•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 7/21/2010

Group collaboration software is without doubt a very useful type of software but that doesn't mean it is perfect. On the contrary, group collaboration software, frequently called groupware for short, has many disadvantages. Here are some of the disadvantages of group collaboration software.

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    1. Group Collaboration Software Decreases Efficiency

    sxc.hu, businessman in the office, by Celal Teber 

    Ironically, instead of boosting productivity, group collaboration software can decrease efficiency. The reason is simple: Many tasks are done more productively outside the groupware than inside it. The calendar example about the disadvantages of group collaboration software shows why--it takes a lot of time to synchronize the schedules of the participants; and when there is a change in the schedule of one person, this can lead to quite a lot of turmoil for the rest.

    Image Credit: sxc.hu, Businessman, by Celal Teber at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1287062

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    2. Unreliability: Another Disadvantage of Group Collaboration Software

    In addition to decreased efficiency, less reliability could also be an issue with group collaboration software. When the server with your groupware is down, nobody can work unless they do so separately, which certainly isn't the idea behind groupware. If you have to work separately, change management also becomes a hot potato.

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    3. Groupware Costs a Lot

    Groupware isn't cheap. When you add its price and the other costs you need to make in order to deploy and maintain it and you draw the line, the result could be pretty shocking. Though group collaboration software is frequently considered the cheaper alternative (and it generally is, especially when compared to the price of a business trip, for example), many top groupware products are priced sky high, and the maintenance costs associated with them push their cost even higher.

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    4. You Are Tied to the Groupware Vendor

    Dependency on a software vendor isn't typical for groupware alone, but since it exists with groupware as well, it is worth mentioning. If your groupware creates documents and other files in proprietary formats, then the export of the data to an alternative platform might be virtually impossible. In a sense, you are locked to the groupware you are using and there is no way out, unless you leave all your data behind.

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    5. Security Is a Serious Problem with Group Collaboration Software

    Similar to vendor-dependency, security is hardly a disadvantage of group collaboration software only. Unauthorized access and risks for data while in transit are the two most notable security issues of group collaboration software but they are absolutely enough to scare you.

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    6. Group Software Allows No Non-Verbal Communication

    Business communication has always relied on non-verbal communication. Any communication medium that doesn't provide for the use of non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions, gestures, etc., makes business communication more difficult and misunderstandings more common.

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    7. Inadequate Feature Set

    Finally, when you have paid a fortune for your groupware solution and you have somehow managed to deploy it, train the participants, and find workarounds to the disadvantages of group collaboration software, the last stone to fall on your head is the inadequate feature set. An inadequate feature set could mean too many features, which makes it confusing to use, or not enough features, which is even worse.

    Even if you decide to order a custom-made groupware solution with the feature set you need, you still can't be sure this will solve the problem. How about the features you have forgotten to include or those that you don't need today but won't be able to do without tomorrow? When you figure out you need them, it can turn out that it is impossible to include them. This is quite a realistic scenario and you should bear it in mind.

    Group collaboration software is great, but if you don't know about its weaknesses and think it is perfect, then you will have many problems. This is why you need to know about the disadvantages of group collaboration software, so that you can make an informed choice whether it is good fit for your situation or not.