Collaboration is the lifeblood of a well-functioning company; the right solution can make all the difference.
Even before the pandemic hit, collaboration challenged businesses of all sizes and industries. When offices emptied nearly 20 months ago and people retreated to their homes, these difficulties increased. In-person communication became impossible with collaboration confined to digital tools like email and Zoom.
Thankfully, we live in a time of limitless digital innovation, where you can find dozens of solutions to streamline collaboration and boost productivity. Let’s look at a few best practices for selecting software to support your unique collaboration goals.
What Are Digital Collaboration Tools?
Why do you need a specialized collaboration solution? If you have an internet connection, an email address and a cell phone, isn’t that enough? For some, it may be. Yet many organizations have complex processes and must manage projects with remote or hybrid teams. Modern software solutions can offer these organizations additional functionality that is badly needed. From cloud storage and scheduling to instant messaging, file sharing and alerts, today’s collaboration software keeps these teams on track and optimizes workflows for maximum productivity.
How Do You Pick a Collaboration Platform?
Just as you would with any other solution, choosing the right collaboration software means following a strategic process. First, focus on identifying problems or pain points that you hope your solution will mitigate. Next, make a list of features that you need to have and that you want to have. Because of the sheer variety of available solutions, it is wise to do your research upfront to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Luckily, there are plenty of reviews and commentaries that can help you begin to zero in on the ideal collaboration tool.
One way to think about it is to determine your core workflows. For example, if you deal with a high number of digital documents, you will want your collaboration software to include a secure mechanism for transferring files between users. If you have projects that must go through several levels of approval and sign-off, then you’ll want robust scheduling features for you to layout clear, step-by-step processes.
Other considerations are whether the tools you select are secure and flexible. Cybersecurity is a major problem for businesses across the economy, so you’ll want to inquire about built-in protections. A couple of examples of this would be end-to-end encryption for any chat features and multifactor authentication deployed during sign-on.
Pay special attention as well to how receptive or malleable your solution is to integrations. Chances are, you already have a few programs or services you are using to conduct business. You’ll want the option to integrate new tools with pre-existing IT infrastructure.
Finally, inquire about the pricing for any solutions you find yourself considering. Many IT products now function through an “as-a-service” model, meaning that you will pay a monthly fee for the service. Don’t forget to ask if this applies to your platform or if you will be primarily paying an up-front fee. Additionally, there can be other associated costs – such as network bandwidth, supportive infrastructure, deployment costs and user training expenses. Take the time to calculate what’s known as total cost of ownership (TCO) ahead of making any final decisions.
Strengthen Your Collaboration for Better Operations
Without effective communication and collaboration throughout your company, it’s extraordinarily difficult to operate efficiently and scale your business. In our fast-paced digital world, keeping a close eye on your projects and optimizing your workflows is even more important. Thankfully, many solutions can keep employees connected and productive whether your team operates via headquarters or home offices.