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Project Extranets — the killer features

10 key features of project collaboration software

Although they were once rarely used outside the architecture, construction and engineering industries, project extranets are now enjoying a surge in popularity in a fast-growing number of fields.

Professionals working in areas as diverse as the law, the public sector, marketing and accountancy are now making full use of project extranets, keen to benefit from the way they offer controlled access to secure online workspaces — making it possible to share data, manage project milestones and get instant feedback from partners working outside of their organisations.

One of the most popular ways of creating project extranets is by using flexible, feature-rich online collaboration software, which allows you to set up and adapt workspaces for almost any kind of third-party project collaboration.

But with a growing number of cloud collaboration tools out there, it’s not easy to choose the one that’s right for you and the partners you want to work with. To help you, we’ve drawn on over a decade of project extranet expertise to create a checklist of 10 killer features that you should look for, helping you to source the secure, flexible and well supported solution you need.

You can learn about each of these features in detail by downloading our free guide — 10 killer features to look for in a Project Extranet. This contains vital extra information that will make sure you find the software that’s perfect for the ways you want to collaborate online.

10 killer features to look for in a Project Extranet

  1. A Cloud solution
    Choose a cloud solution for fast deployment, ease of access, a single and trusted repository of information, and a system that overcomes barriers such as email firewalls and clunky FTP file sharing. 
  2. The right tools for your collaborations. One size doesn’t fit all. Look for a system that gives you core features from secure file sharing to co-authored documents and survey tools. Be sure to check the free guide for a full list of essential core features. 
  3. Flexibility of use and administration. Opt for simple-to-use software that offers plug-and-play templates for common types of collaboration, plus intuitive administration tools that allow you to set up workspaces and users without technical help. 
  4. Security and privacy. Don’t risk your reputation or that of your partners. Evaluate how secure and reliable cloud software really is — our guide gives you fuller details on how to do this. 
  5. Adaptable access privileges. You need a solution that allows you to give teams only the access and privileges they need — and no more. This makes for better security of information and more purposeful working. 
  6. Co-authored documents and commenting. The beating heart of a project extranet — find software that allows you to collaborate on a single version of an online document, and which allows comments and discussion on any uploaded item.  
  7. A full version history and audit trail. When you are working with a third party organisation, transparency and accountability is essential — be sure that all workspace activity is logged and all previous version of documents are archived.  
  8. Instant email alerts. Systems that immediately notify users of activity or changes will speed up response and turnaround times of your projects. 
  9. Vendor support and training. Make sure you’re dealing with real people who know how to help you – not an outsourced call centre. Look for a friendly and well-staffed support desk and check out the quality of any training offered. It’ll ensure smooth user adoption and allow you to reap the full potential of the software much quicker. 
  10. The right price — and a fair contract. In the current economic climate, this is one of the most essential features of a project extranet. Avoid software that locks you into long contracts or charges you for more users than you have or need — opt for flexible and good-value payment plans instead.

By using this checklist, you should be able to source software with the flexibility, security and adaptability you need — at the right price. Your partners will thank you for it when they log in to begin their collaboration with you. 

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