Groove unveils customizable collaboration templates

Groove Networks on Monday rolled out a set of downloadable templates designed to offer ready-to-use forms for collaborative processes such as marketing programs, competitive intelligence, incident tracking, and HR (human resources).

The Rapid Solutions Exchange consists of more than 20 workspace templates for use with Groove Virtual Office collaboration software. The forms tool in Virtual Office is a RAD (rapid application development) environment for creating distributed applications specific to a business requirement or process.

The goal of the new Rapid Solutions Exchange offering is to help Groove users get up and running quickly with ways to apply Virtual Office to their business processes, according to Matt Pope, director of strategic platforms at Groove.

The Rapid Solutions let distributed workers better manage workflow of a process in the same virtual workspace where they communicate, share files, manage projects, and hold meetings, according to Groove officials.

The capability to easily customize the prebuilt forms templates is a big advantage for customers, said Pope.

"The nice thing about the forms tools is that you can leverage it and then quickly customize it for your needs," Pope said. For example, "some enterprises want to integrate forms with back-end solutions. Or you can use the template as-is. It depends on the customer."

There are about 20 templates available now, and 40 are expected to be ready by early next year. The Rapid Solutions templates include Asset Request, Annual Marketing Programs, Corporate Security, HR Tracker, Incident Command System, Litigation, Sales Team, Status Reports, and Time Cards.

Steelcase, an international furniture manufacturing company with 14,000 employees worldwide, uses Groove Virtual Office for collaboration and project management among its 35 manufacturing facility locations and with outside partner companies.

Currently, Steelcase uses the forms tool in Groove Virtual Office for information-gathering, debugging applications, and status reports.

Steelcase plans to use the customizable Rapid Solutions Exchange templates to open the Groove application to third-party applications, according to Florent Buiron, CRM team leader international at Steelcase.

"We see the forms tool as the place that will open up Groove to third-party applications. We need to deliver data that resides in back-end systems, like SAP, to front-end people (such as) sales people, legal, and management. It is a challenge to get the data to front-end workers at the right time," Buiron said.

The Rapid Solutions Exchange "allows us to develop templates that will be customized to our specific work process. We can make it available as a toolbox and have forms applied to different work functions. People can pick whatever forms they need and can apply it right away," he said.

Allowing workers to customize collaboration environments to fit their daily business processes is powerful, according to Buiron.

"It is really about being able to match as closely as we can to the work processes people have and matching the customized forms to those work processes," he said.

Other templates due next year for the Rapid Solutions Exchange will target the areas of professional services, IT as a line of business, and the public sector.

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