Open source collaboration software: benefits and 5 recommendations

Rocket.Chat Content Team
August 25, 2022
min read

In today’s hybrid work culture, teams need the support of a powerful collaboration tool to function efficiently. And though ample options are available in the market, open source collaboration software is gaining more popularity than ever.

Why? This type of software promises better collaboration for security- and compliance-oriented teams.

This article discusses the benefits of open source collaboration software and lists top 5 recommendations to help you streamline your work processes and improve team productivity. 

What does collaboration software do exactly?

There are many types of collaboration software, but their common goal is to support and improve collaboration for teams that don’t necessarily work in the same physical place.

Collaboration is diverse, and so are the tools for it. 

With collaboration software, teams can:

1. Brainstorm together and share their ideas with the team

2. Contribute to projects and know what others are working on

3. Track or review a team member’s progress

4. Send out group communication easily

5. Access past data and records without having to skim hundreds of emails

6. Communicate with teams, stakeholders, clients, and across departments from one platform.

In that sense, there are several types of collaboration software: team chats, goal trackers, performance management tools, and more. Some of the key features include:

  • Chat 
  • Project management
  • Video conferencing
  • File management and collaboration
  • Cloud storage
  • Team calendar

So - why open source?

In 2021, about 77% of respondents from the US were using open-source technologies in their projects. Why?

Because it offers them the transparency of the code used in those technologies, enabling them to trust software even more. Furthermore, when they use open-source software, they know they can rely on it, and it won’t simply cease to exist anytime down the line. 

open source collaboration software

Here are additional reasons why organizations opt for open source collaboration software:

1. Cost-effective

While one may find many free open source collaborative software, many come with a freemium model, allowing teams to use the free version and scale it as per their business requirement. Still, this cost is cheaper than most proprietary software, as you save on licensing and maintenance costs. Also, most open source software requires less hardware power, so you also save on that cost. 

Moreover, open source software is the best way for organizations to test an application and see if it fulfills their needs rather than spending a fortune on annual subscriptions. 

2. Collaboration at a larger level

Open source software have a huge role in shaping new technologies and solving shared programs by facilitating collaboration, innovation, and development of new technologies. 

Companies can instantly access the source code, test it with their systems and make updates to suit their requirement. And with that, they have the power to build something big, something better with your technology, and solve the bigger problem your industry faces. 

Think about it - one technology can get an entire sector working toward a shared problem and collaborate to reach a more extensive solution. 

3. Fast track processes

Open source software help developers fast-track their development process. To keep up with business needs and create a solution faster on tight deadlines, developers should utilize what’s already available instead of starting from stage zero.

And often, more than half of their work is already done - all they need to do is add a few additional functionalities, and voila, they have the solution ready!

4. Exchange of ideas

When companies make their products open source, they remove all the barriers between innovators and thinkers. They’re allowing their tech community - fellow developers and new learners - to understand their thought process behind building a solution. They’re essentially opening up their minds to these people. 

And this exchange drives drive creative, scientific, and technological developments in the coming years.

5. A sense of security

Open source software is more secure than propriety software. As more people (including developers) can access the source code, one can be assured that issues, vulnerabilities, and bugs will be found and fixed.

Moreover, as you can access the code, you know there’s no hidden misuse of data going on in the code.

6. Regulatory compliance

Open source collaboration software is highly adaptive, which is why it can easily adapt to comply with data governance policies such as GDPR and HIPAA.

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7. No vendor lock-in

Using proprietary software includes risks of locking in an organization when prices increase. Open source software offers flexibility, allowing them to onboard and offboard anytime, leaving their data intact.

5 best open source collaboration software

Now that you know the benefits of open source and benefits of collaboration software, why not opt for both?

Here are the top five open source collaboration tools you can use in your organization to achieve alignment and improve productivity.

1. Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is a self-hosted open source collaboration software that brings teams together. Deemed as one of the best open source alternatives to Slack, it helps them communicate instantly and share updates on the go.

It’s used by international governments, defense departments, military organizations, and healthcare providers that require the highest security and privacy standards.

open source collaboration software

This instant messaging solution is more than just that:

1. Regardless of your customers' communication app, you can now connect with them from one platform via Rocket.Chat 

2. You can white label Rocket.Chat components and create custom messaging experiences for your teams and clients. 

3. Rocket.Chat can be self-hosted, air-gapped, or securely deployed to the cloud based on your security and compliance needs.

2. OpenProject

OpenProject is an open-source project management tool that helps teams collaborate effectively in a secure environment. It allows you to combine agile, traditional, and waterfall project management methodologies in one platform.

open source collaboration software

Here’s what OpenProject has to offer:

1. You can have complete control over your data - ownership and privacy protection. You know where your information is stored and what happens to it.

2. You can install it on-premises in your infrastructure.

3. It brings transparency between teams by allowing them to work on shared goals.

4. Easy to update tasks and assign them to your team.

5. It helps you visualize your project plan, so you can analyze the requirement better and map out a detailed plan.

6. Scrum and Kanban methodologies make iterations smooth and faster.

3. BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton is an open source collaboration software that helps institutions conduct virtual classrooms. And the best thing about BigBlueButton is that it’s built by lecturers who understand the daily struggles of keeping the collaboration live during online sessions. 

Although it’s marketed as teaching software, it can be used as a video conferencing app by organizations.

Here’s everything this open source collaboration software offers:

1. Easy integration into an LMS with plugins for deep integration.

2. Its API integrates easily with tools.

3. It has a big community supporting people to use the software better.

4. Live analytics feature for teachers to have a deep understanding of their students and how they’re performing.

5. Multiple functionalities like polling, multi-user whiteboards, breakout rooms, etc.

4. OpenPass

OpenPass is a smart digital workspace and an open source alternative to Microsoft 365 and Google suite. It provides office productivity tools for sending emails, creating documents, managing team calendars, organizing meetings, and so much more!

open source collaboration software

Here are some of its features:

1. AI Mail to help you automate your workflows by understanding the context of your emails.

2. You can easily locate an attachment over the sea of emails without having to open multiple threads!

3. It offers flexibility to integrate email functionality into your existing email solution.

4. Offers secure file sharing internally or externally while controlling their access rights.

5. It has team channels to keep track of all tasks and files in one place and send individual and group texts.

6. It has video conferencing and screen-sharing capabilities.

7. Team calendars to never miss an event or meeting. 

5. NextCloud

Nextcloud is a self-hosted open source collaboration software that helps you take your team productivity to the next level and gain control over your data. It’s an on-premise content collaboration platform with features similar to Dropbox and GoogleDrive, but an extra layer of security and privacy.

It hosts several unique and innovative security technologies, such as advanced server-side protection, end-to-end integration, client-side encryption, enterprise-grade key handling, etc. This is why it’s popular in many highly-regulated sectors for its commendable security features.

open source collaboration software

This secure collaboration tool offers the following:

1. It helps keep confidential data accessible and safe for employees working from their home offices.

2. It has tools like mail, calendar, file manager, video conferencing, and much more to help you collaborate with your team in real time.

3. It helps you stay compliant with data privacy and security policies by offering you a GDPR-compliant cloud solution.

Open source + digital collaboration: winning combination

Open source tools offer various benefits to a business, including low costs, increased flexibility, and improved security. With workspaces becoming hybrid, it’s more important than ever to consider these aspects of collaboration software.

Ready to invest in your first open source collaboration software?

Rocket.Chat is your one-stop solution to all your team collaboration requirement and to gain full control over your data. 

Sign up today!

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Rocket.Chat Content Team
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