Running Head: GROUPWARE SELECTION FOR SMALL BUSINESS IN US<br />Groupware selection for small businesses in US<br />Kshitij Chaudhari<br />Stratford University<br />October 8, 2009<br />I have read and understand Stratford University’s Academic Integrity Policy. I promise to conduct myself with integrity in submission of all academic work to the University and will not give or receive unauthorized assistance for the completion of the assignments, research papers, examination or other work. I understand that violations of the Academic Integrity Policy will lead to disciplinary action against me, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the University. I understand that all students play a role in preserving the academic integrity of the University and have an obligation to report violations of the Academic Integrity Policy committed by other students.<br />Introduction<br />With the advent of the better technology and networking as well as the hardware and software to complement the changes there is a significant change in the software solutions available for the current business practices in the market. The changes in hardware have led to better processing in a limited space and the advent of the mobile devices has flooded the business world. All the work for a business can be conveyed or controlled from a mobile device like a Blackberry, Apple iPhone or Windows based Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) or Smartphone. The changes in hardware have allowed the software companies to provide fully featured applications for the new hardware in a compact casing. Today’s mobile devices tend to fully acknowledge the term portable, economic and full-featured. These changes have a brought about a new range of software solutions for small businesses in the market. <br />Small Businesses have become aware of technologies evolving around them. The use and optimized effort required thereafter have captured the attention of these small businesses. The market however is has a number of offering for the small business owners which tends to create a dilemma of choice. Small businesses need to assess the current market options and select the most suitable alternative for them. Most small businesses today require a basic package of communication and company intranet services (Logistics World, 2009). The problem then arises is to select an appropriate variant that can satisfy all major requirements of small business owners. The paper deals with finding such solution. However, the number of options available in the market is too many to be all compared in a single turn. Hence, this paper deals with three major solution providers in the groupware technology for small businesses.<br />The study is limited to small businesses in United States and deals mainly with small businesses classified such under the United States’ legal definition of small businesses (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2009). The study depends on the finding of the Forrester report 2009 for small and medium size businesses (SMB) and the finding deduced therein. The terms for used in the report point to certain specific forms of interpretation.<br />The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a business concern as one that is organized for profit; has a place of business in the U.S.; operates primarily within the U.S. or makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor; is independently owned and operated; and is not dominant in its field on a national basis. The business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or any other legal form (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2009). Forrester report 2009 is the report named ‘The state of SMB IT budgets 2009’ conducted by Heidi Lo and Andrew Bartels for Forrester Research, Inc. published Aug 07, 2009. The legal definition for groupware constitutes;<br />Groupware is a category of software designed to help groups work together by facilitating the exchange of information among group members who may or may not be located in the same office. Groupware is an ideal mechanism for sharing less-structured information (for example, text or diagrams, as opposed to fielded or structured data) that might not otherwise be accessible to others. It is also used to define workflow, so that as one user completes a step in a project or process, the person responsible for the next step is notified automatically. CITATION USL09 l 1033 (US Legal, 2009).<br />However, within the confines of this paper the generally accepted form of groupware will deal with basic collection of communication software for small business owners. These software solutions will constitute primarily of email, chat, video conference, calendar, wiki management, forms or process management and web content management. The list of all the definition for these terms is provided in appendix A.<br />Review of Literature<br />Groupware are classified as collaborative software that is categorized under Content Management System (CMS) software applications. CMS basically is an application that deals with all the content connected to an e-business (Enterprise Content Management, 2008). Groupware is software that can be used by a group of people who are working on the same information but may be distributed in space (Search Domino, 2009). Groupware is technology designed to facilitate the work of groups. This technology may be used to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, solve problems, compete, or negotiate. While traditional technologies like the telephone qualify as groupware, the term is ordinarily used to refer to a specific class of technologies relying on modern computer networks, such as email, newsgroups, videophones, or chat (Enterprise Content Management, 2008).<br />Groupware technologies are typically categorized along two primary dimensions:<br />whether users of the groupware are working together at the same time ("
groupware) or different times ("
groupware), and<br />Whether users are working together in the same place ("
) or in different places ("
) (Bates, 1999).<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 1 Groupware classification (source: Bates, 1999)Same time (synchronous)Different time (asynchronous)Same Place (co-located)Voting, Presentation supportShared computersDifferent Place (distance)Videophones, chatEmail, Workflow<br />Types of Groupware<br />1. Asynchronous groupware<br />Email is by far the most common groupware application (besides of course, the traditional telephone). While the basic technology is designed to pass simple messages between 2 people, even relatively basic email systems today typically include interesting features for forwarding messages, filing messages, creating mailing groups, and attaching files with a message. <br />Newsgroups and mailing lists are similar in spirit to email systems except that they are intended for messages among large groups of people instead of 1-to-1 communication. <br />Hypertext (now called wiki) is a system for linking text documents to each other, with the Web being an obvious example. Whenever multiple people author and link documents, the system becomes group work, constantly evolving and responding to others' work. <br />Group calendars allow scheduling, project management, and coordination among many people, and may provide support for scheduling equipment as well.<br />Collaborative writing systems may provide both real-time support and non real-time support. Word processors may provide asynchronous support by showing authorship and by allowing users to track changes and make annotations to documents. <br />2. Synchronous or real-time groupware<br />Shared whiteboards allow two or more people to view and draw on a shared drawing surface even from different locations. <br />Video communications systems allow two-way or multi-way calling with live video, essentially a telephone system with an additional visual component. Chat systems permit many people to write messages in real-time in a public space. <br />Application sharing is when the same application is shared between people for a collaborative work effort irrespective of space share. Decision support systems are designed to facilitate groups in decision-making. They provide tools for brainstorming, critiquing ideas, putting weights and probabilities on events and alternatives, and voting. <br />None of the current research papers delineate a specific method for selection or a software solution for small business owners. The review of literature around the topic has divided opinions on the fact that a common solution for all the small businesses may or may not be viable. However, since all the small business owners tend to create a communication channel using software solutions the specific type of groupware selected for the research is general purpose and is required by all the small business owners (Enterprise Content Management, 2008).<br />Method<br />The research paper deals with providing an efficient and optimal solution for the groupware selection problem for small businesses. Some of the questions that arise when trying to solve this problem are intermittently required for the solution. The research paper will consider only three viable solutions for comparison and the viability of these three solutions needs to be established before the main problem is tackled. When the three solutions are shortlisted the quantifiable form of measurement is to be set for the comparison of software solutions. This setting will be primarily based on the Forrester research report described in the previous part. The report conclusion will serve as quantifiable parameter for comparison. The features will be weighted and assessed during the comparison for the solutions and an outcome will be calculated.<br />For the three solutions to be shortlisted, ample survey of literature and software solutions available in market is to be assessed. Most solutions are module based and will be short on certain features required for a small business. All the solutions to be shortlisted have to adhere to the basic feature list. This includes, email, and chat, video conference, calendar shared and personal, wiki management, web content management, form management and process management. Of all popular enterprise solutions used by corporations other than SMB’s include Oracle, SAP and PeoplSoft. However, the cost and client service provided by these solution providers is on a larger scale and not suitable for small businesses. Other solutions commonly available and usable include Microsoft SharePoint, LotusLive and Google Apps. <br />Microsoft SharePoint<br />This is an upcoming collaborative social computing groupware from Microsoft. The application will be a part of the latest Microsoft Office 2010 but will also be sold separately as Microsoft SharePoint 2010. The software aims at providing a social computing platform for enterprises and assists them with better integrated software as a service application. The software is proprietary and hence would not be modifiable or customizable for any form of enterprise. However, the generalized form has enough options to suit enterprise of any and all sizes CITATION Mic09 l 1033 (Microsoft, 2009).<br />Features<br />Manage diverse content - The document management capabilities in the Microsoft integrated solution can help organizations consolidate diverse content from multiple file shares and personal drives into a centrally managed repository that has consistent categorization.<br />Satisfy compliance and legal requirements - The Microsoft solution also includes integrated records management capabilities that give organizations the capability to store and protect business records in their final state.<br />Efficiently manage multiple Web sites - Integrated Web content management capabilities enable people to publish Web content with an easy-to-use content authoring tool and a built-in approval process.<br />Streamline business processes - The Microsoft solution enables businesses to streamline content-driven, collaborative business processes by providing the tools and platform to automate tasks. The Microsoft solution provides capabilities to manage the entire life cycle of unstructured content, from creation to expiration, on a single unified platform. These capabilities include: <br />Document management (documents, images, media files compatible with Microsoft Office suite)<br />Records management (database management and automated query based results)<br />Web content management (includes chat, video conferencing, application and whiteboard sharing, website management, etc)<br />Forms solutions (create and distribute forms)<br />LotusLive<br />Lotus has lost a lot of credibility over the years due to its slacking on the technology front but with this latest collaborative software as a service (SaaS) offering it will be competing with the big leagues. The application will provide all the basic functionality and will be competitively priced against the SharePoint alternative. This product however, is available in a module based form wherein the company can choose to buy selected modules as necessary CITATION IBM09 l 1033 (IBM corp., 2009).<br />Features<br />Extensive Lotus Notes expertise available 24x7 from IBM<br />Automated processes and an integrated platform keep costs lower<br />Support a faster implementation with an established infrastructure and a team of subject matter experts.<br />E-mail, calendaring and scheduling (1 GB mailbox per user)<br />IBM support to help manage security in your messaging environment<br />Transparent, demonstrable security and data management practices that satisfy the requirements of most businesses.<br /> Host meetings online Includes all the features of LotusLive Meetings<br />Store and share files Use a Web browser to access your files from anywhere with world-class security features.<br />Manage team activities Break out of your inbox and into Activities to streamline your work with others.<br />Chat with colleagues Use instant messaging to chat with LotusLive users.<br />Create charts with different types of visualizations, graphs, diagrams, and maps with Live Charts.<br />Create surveys and forms with customized templates or create your own surveys and business forms.<br />Connect with colleagues and keep track of your clients and customers, important dates and events. Connect with others to share contact information.<br />Google Apps<br />Google has dominated the internet since its beginning and is geared towards entering the enterprise based applications to establish its presence online. This product offered by Google has a limited usability and is cheaper compared to the other two. The price is charged as SaaS per person usage in the company CITATION Goo09 l 1033 (Google, 2009).<br />Features<br />Email accounts with 25 GB of storage per user and instant search tools<br />IM, plus voice and video chat<br />Group calendaring system<br />Mobile access<br />Spam and virus filtering<br />Web-powered collaboration apps: Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Video for businesses<br />Essential collaboration apps – Google Docs, Google Video and Google Sites are included.<br />Continuous innovation – Put the web's rapid pace of innovation to work for your business. <br /> Smoother information sharing – Improve traditional software with more efficient collaboration. <br />Worker mobility – Access your data from anywhere. Employees can be productive from any computer.<br />Information access control – Each piece of content can be as private or as public as necessary.<br />Enterprise-class service – Google Apps includes a 99.9% uptime service level agreement (SLA). Phone support is available for critical issues.<br />Secure infrastructure – Multiple layers of protection keep your business data safe and secure.<br />All of the above three software solutions perfectly adhere to the norms set in the beginning. The target consumers for these solutions are small and mid size businesses and they provide the services customized for their clients. Hence, these three software solutions are shortlisted for comparison for this research paper. The final software solution will be selected from these alternatives namely; Microsoft SharePoint, LotusLive, and Google Apps.<br />The four main selective criterion small business are looking for in their software solution expenditure are proprietary software solution, readily available solution, a SaaS based solution with lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher spending percentage on information technology solutions than their enterprise based counterparts (Brown, 2009). According to the Forrester report 2009 these conclusions shatter a lot of previously held misconceptions and also pave a way for newer acceptability for SaaS based businesses in the future (Brown, 2009). Of the total 100 points to be reported for each software solution the parameters will be weighted on the above conclusions. The four main concerns will be equally weighted 20 points and the remaining will be distributed among features and miscellaneous options (See Table 2).<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 2 Parameter weight breakdown<br />ParameterPoints (100)ReasoningProprietary software20Forrester research findingsPlatform and readiness 20Forrester research findingsFeatures and Periodic costs20Forrester research - TCOCost for installation20Forrester research findingsService, security and uptime10Basic functionalityMobile support5Extended functionalityUser Interface5Extended functionality<br />Now that the weighted scale for comparison is established the next step is to compare the three variants of software with all the available parameters. Once the comparison is complete each software solution is awarded points according to the scale. Eventually these points will be summed up to clarify an acceptable choice of software solution for small business owners.<br />On the following page is the table for comparison of features among the three shortlisted software solutions. The table also lists the points to be assigned for each feature present in the software (See Table 3). The table also delineates the salient features of all three shortlisted candidates. Following the setting of points to features, the points are allotted to the three software applications. A top concern with small business owners is that the application needs to be proprietary. Table 4 details the allotment of 20 points to the three candidates. Since Google Apps is open source software and has almost no proprietary form it has been allotted no points for this feature. Table 5 assigns points for the platform the application can work on and the readiness of the software application package out-of-the-box. Costs and the installation price for each one is used as a parameter for point allotment in Table 6. Periodic costs are the costs that occur after the installation on a periodic basis. Table 7 allots points for periodic costs and features available in each software application. Table 8 distributes points for security, service and Service Level Agreement (SLA) uptime. Table 9 parameters are mobile support and user interface. Eventually, we calculate the total points for each software application and tabulate it (See Table 10).<br /> <br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 3 Comparison of parameters<br />PointsParameterMicrosoft SharePoint 2010LotusLive (Engage)Google Apps10CostApprox. $100 single licenseBulk fee approx $60 every 1000 licensesModule basedFor premium package $150 single licenseBulk prices may vary accordinglyFlat rate $50 per user licenseSeparate rates for non-profits, schools, ISP, developers and resellers15Software typeProprietaryProprietaryOpen Source (customizable)20PlatformWindows Operating SystemsPlatform IndependentPlatform Independent5CollaborationReal time synchronousReal time synchronousReal time synchronous5Email and Chat/Video conferenceYes (5GB)Yes (1GB)Yes (25 GB)1Calendar scheduling and sharingYesYesYes1Web content and Wiki managementYesYesYes1Forms/Process managementYesYesYes1Social computing (profile pages, etc)Not specificYesYes1Search featuresYes, indexing based searchYes, Basic search featureYes, excellent integration3User InterfaceStandard Microsoft Office like interfaceWeb 2.0 interface, very appealingBasic but intuitive interface5SecurityVery goodExcellentBasic security features1File limitationsAlmost noneComparatively noneLimitedHardware requirementsadvancedNone, existing hardwareNone, existing hardwareSoftware requirementsWindows OS requiredBrowser requiredBrowser required5Mobile device supportYes, Microsoft ExchangeConditionalYes4UpgradesNeed to be purchasedFree since SaaSFree since SaaS2Look and feelFormal, requires getting used toExcellent, no basics requiredSimilar to Google applications10UpsideMicrosoft product hence integration is excellent as well as familiar look and feel. Service is timely.Web 2.0 interface in appealing and module based. 24x7 service provision and no upgrade cost.Cheap and free upgrades.10DownsideVery expensive, no upgrade is freeExpensiveService for critical issues, security<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 4 Parameter 1 Proprietary Software<br />Proprietary Software SolutionPoints (Total 20)ReasonMicrosoft SharePoint20Fully proprietaryLotusLive20Fully proprietaryGoogle Apps0Open Source<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 5 Platform and readiness parameter<br />Platform & ReadinessPoints (Total 20)ReasonMicrosoft SharePoint15Works only on Windows Platform but is ready to useLotusLive20Platform independent and ready to useGoogle Apps20Platform independent and ready to use/customizable<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 6 Cost of software and installation<br />Cost of InstallationPoints (Total 20)ReasonMicrosoft SharePoint10Windows hardware required and cost of software is higher for smaller user groupsLotusLive15Cost per user is higher but no additional hardware requiredGoogle Apps20Low cost and no hardware requirements<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 7 Feature and Periodic cost Parameters<br />Features and Periodic CostsPoints (Total 20)ReasonMicrosoft SharePoint9+8 = 17Larger email support, no social computing and significant periodic costsLotusLive7+10 = 17Fully proprietaryGoogle Apps10+10 = 20Open Source<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 8 Service, Security and Uptime SLA<br />Service, security and UptimePoints (Total 10)ReasonMicrosoft SharePoint5+4= 9Excellent service with support but no SLA UptimeLotusLive5+5 = 10Excellent service with free upgradesGoogle Apps5+2 = 10Mediocre security but 99% SLA uptime<br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 9 Mobile Support and User Interface (UI)<br />Mobile Support & InterfacePoints (Total 10)ReasonMicrosoft SharePoint4+5 = 9UI is familiar but mobile support requires Microsoft ExchangeLotusLive5+5 = 10Conditional support, excellent UIGoogle Apps5+5 = 10All inclusive<br />The results of the points distributed among the software variants are summarized in a tabular form. <br />Table SEQ Table * ARABIC 10 Result Table<br />ParameterPoints Out ofMicrosoft SharePointLotusLiveGoogle AppsProprietary software2020200Platform and readiness20152020Features and Periodic costs20171720Cost for installation20101520Service, security and uptime1091010Mobile support and User Interface1091010Final Tally100809280<br />Conclusion<br />The comparison of the three viable software solutions has revealed that LotusLive is an appropriate groupware to be selected by small business for their primary technology needs. The research paper has successfully inferred a viable alternative to the current clutter of software solutions mainly catering to the larger corporations. Small business owners can choose this alternative to suit their needs for a basic groupware solution. Although the initial cost for LotusLive is significantly higher than all other alternatives the total cost of ownership for the software is considerably less. The hardware requirements are minimal and upgrade costs are non-existent. The software is module based and hence has an option to cut costs as needed. The service provider guarantees a full time support for the service. The software is technologically advanced and includes support for social networking technology and conditional mobile support. Small businesses are readily accepting large initial costs encountered in LotusLive for a lower TCO (Brown, 2009).<br />The research paper has successfully compared and selected a groupware software solution for small business owners. But the research is limited by certain factors. The research is solely based on the assumption that the Forrester report 2009 is foolproof. The research paper also assumes that all small business owners considered have the same requirement from such groupware solutions. This research has given rise to a new problem. The research paper assumes that other solutions available in the market have not change since the report. The regular change in information technology brings out newer alternatives everyday and a varied competition emerges with better features at a better price. The changes in technology and requirements from this technology are dynamic. The Forrester report 2009 delineates these requirements for the year 2009 only and hence the research dependent on this information will be obsolete quicker than the primary data.<br />Further research with more alternative comparisons is necessary to establish these results. The future research projects should consider carrying out a survey on a sample of small businesses across United States. The changes in requirements and the data gathered could help establish a better relationship between the factors of selection for the groupware selection. <br />References BIBLIOGRAPHY Bates, J. (1999, January 1). Distributed groupware discussion. Retrieved September 2009, from CaberNet: http://research.cs.ncl.ac.uk/cabernet/www.laas.research.ec.org/cabernet/sota/report/node76.htmlBrown, D. (2009, July 13). SMB's buy and use software differently. Retrieved October 2009, from techadvisory.org: http://www.techadvisory.org/2009/07/smbs-buy-and-use-software-differently/Cornell University. (2009). Integrated Web service. Retrieved October 2009, from Cornell.edu: http://wpg.cornell.edu/iws2/technology/techinfo.cfmDepartment of Technology Services. (2009). Groupware Law. Retrieved October, from Utah Government: http://dts.utah.gov/egov/webstandards/guide/13-0/13-0.htmlEco Island. (2009). Eco island glossary. Retrieved October 2009, from eco-island.org.uk: http://www.eco-island.org.uk/glossary.aspx#SEnterprise Content Management. (2008). What is content management? Retrieved September 2009, from Contenmanagement.eu.com: http://www.contentmanager.eu.com/history.htmGoogle. (2009). Google Apps. Retrieved September 2009, from Google.com: http://www.google.com/apps/IBM corp. (2009). LotusLive. Retrieved September 2009, from lotuslive.com: https://www.lotuslive.com/en/Logistics World. (2009, July 27). Loglink - Logistics world news. Retrieved October 2009, from Logisticsworld.com: http://www.logisticsworld.com/loglink/newsrel.asp?article=1108Microsoft. (2009). Microsoft Sharepoint. Retrieved September 2009, from sharepoint.microsoft.com: http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/Pages/Default.aspxSearch Domino. (2009, September 15). Search Domino definitions. 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Retrieved October 2009, from USlegal.com: http://definitions.uslegal.com/g/groupware/<br />Appendix A<br />List of Definition<br /><ul><li>Small business - For SEC purposes, small businesses are defined as domestic companies with revenues of under $25 million, and not investment companies. Subsidiaries of larger companies do not qualify as small businesses (SEC).
SaaS - Software as a Service is subscription based, and all upgrades are provided during the term of the subscription. The software is hosted and updated on a central location, and does not reside on client computers (Department of Technology Services, 2009).
Wiki - A collection of web pages that can be edited by a group (Cornell University, 2009).
IM - Instant Messaging is a technology that allows two people to chat electronically in real time (Sega Mobile, 2009).
SLA - Service level agreement - A binding agreement with detailed specifications for the level of outcome and output performance between a commissioner and service deliverer or between partners (Eco Island, 2009).
TCO – Total Cost of Ownership - All the financial consequences of owning an asset. In addition to the initial purchase price this would typically also include maintenance, accommodation charges, opportunity costs, training costs, consumables, internal and external support, interest on capital, etc (University of Melbourne, 2009). </li></ul>Appendix B<br />LotusLive Interface<br />Google Apps Interface<br />Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Interface<br />