Office Collaboration: How to choose the right tool?

What does collaboration mean for you?

The most successful companies make employee collaboration a priority and a key part of the corporate culture. Creating a corporate culture where collaboration thrives doesn’t simply happen by itself – there is a big difference between awareness and action.

Collaboration means different things to different people - business managers might see collaboration as strategic partnership or other inter-organizational alliances, while employees view them as online tools or network applications, even social media.                                        

office collaboration tool

Collaborating as a team is a challenge and many companies are struggling to make sure every team member is always in the loop and on the same page with tasks and responsibilities.   

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for fostering collaboration, unfortunately, and when it comes to collaboration tools, there is an abundance on the market; however, not every tool is useful for different teams.

How to choose the right tool for your team?

If you want to find the one tool that fits your team you should know the answers to these questions.

What kind of team do you have?

One of the main reasons companies fail at collaboration is not knowing the needs of their teams.

The team is a group of people gathered around the same idea, goal, or task, yet it’s much more than that. The team is a group of people who all want to get credit for their contribution, to be respected and valued for the work they do.

The team is also a group of people who want to learn and improve, and to out-top themselves. Every member of the team perceives the team differently, thus, understands the collaboration differently.

What is your team doing and how do they get the things done? How does your marketing team plan campaigns? How does your developer team communicate? And what about your project team? Do you have teams of employees from different departments?

Each of the team have different needs and working style - knowing how your team works is a way to bring collaboration to the highest level.

How do you track the progress of the work?

Developing team and marketing team use different ways to track progress – developers use tools with built-in bug and issue tracking, while marketing team uses tools to share information, ask questions and track metrics, for instance. Depending on the problem they are solving they utilize different tools.

What happens when two different teams need to work on the same project and share information regarding that project?

Jumping from one tool to see market research to another to manage documents and milestones, track tasks and see the stages of the project is a waste of time and energy. When information is stored in various areas communication and collaboration is hardly possible.

If your employees use one tool to find a document and another to see their college’s feedback, you are putting a strain to both workflow and workers. The more separate tools your team use, from analytics to calendars and file sharing, the more they will lose track on the progress of the project.

A good office collaboration implies your team is using the tools they really need. Be clear on what you need to track and measure and on the roles and responsibilities of your management at each level (team leaders, administrators, etc.) before you decide on the collaboration tool you want to utilize.

Do you value fast or good results? (Or both?)

While the platform should enable quicker, better and detailed collaboration between workers and partners (and customers) one should work closely with the team to identify pros and cons of the collaboration platform. 

When choosing business tools one should keep the end-user in mind – this is very often the key to more effective and efficient work.

Good collaboration software have to meet the needs of your business, and if people have to stop and wonder which tool to use for a particular task,  they will either do nothing at all, or use the most familiar option, such as email, which will most certainly result in getting the wrong results and information, or none at all.

The best business tools are easy to set up and use, thus having one or couple of tools to manage projects is advantage. Everyone should test multiple tools, and this is precisely the advantage of free collaboration tools – one has an opportunity to see which tools gets the best results within different teams. 

Combining external collaboration, file sharing, intranets, data and time management tools in one platform is very often the best solution – having everything together in one system saves time, energy and money.

Make sure you know your strategy, the team and the priorities first, and then search for the right collaborative technology that can help the team to work as one. 

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