A collaboration tool is something that helps people collaborate. The term is often used to mean collaborative software, but collaboration tools were being used before computers existed, a piece of paper can for example can be used as collaboration tool.
Everything that helps to solve a predefined task together in a group more easily is an effective collaborative tool. Collaboration means in this context working together to fulfill a shared, collective, bounded goal. Conference phone calls may be replaced by video conferences, IRC or Instant Messaging now. Peer reviews of documentation are easier to establish through wikis than by iterative versions on paper. Whiteboards are partly imitated by Online whiteboards that allow Wikipedia:telework.
Apart from communication collaboration tools may cover other activities according to the business model of the collborators such as:
- project controlling
Tools are not restricted to Collaborative software - they may consist of methodologies implemented as specifications(to do list,checklists) or paper tools.