Working in teams comes with a host of benefits. There is the obvious increase in man-hours that can be funneled toward any one goal or outcome. On top of that, there’s the versatility that comes from a multitude of perspectives. Having several parties involved in a single project comes with its own set of complications, however. Like with a machine, more people on a team is akin to more moving parts. The volume of communication increases exponentially, and keeping track of it all becomes a challenge.
At the same time, ensuring all members of the team have a clear understanding of priorities and objectives becomes more taxing. All this becomes doubly true when collaborating online. Thankfully, there are a plethora of digital collaboration platforms available to address these issues. If you need help narrowing down the right platform for your business, here are six factors to keep in mind.
The first practical consideration, of course, is budget. While the utility of a collaboration platform can easily justify its cost through gains in productivity, one must be mindful of how the tool will be integrated into business operations and thus generate those gains. You need to think about how many people are going to be using the tool and what the maximum monthly spend the business can allocate to its use. These should inform the choice of platform to sign up for.
Another important aspect to consider is the versatility of the tool. Since it’s going to be used by a number of people, the ideal tool would be one that caters to as wide a variety of them as possible. These include ways in which to view sets of tasks — for example, as entries on a spreadsheet or in calendar form where durations are visually displayed. From a practical perspective, different members of a team may need different features or access privileges.
One of the biggest barriers to adoption of a platform is the sheer fatigue people have for digital tools. This is understandable, as every tool necessitates its own learning curve and juggling multiple ones can be an absolute headache. Thus, it’s important that the collaboration platform works seamlessly with the other digital tools already ingrained in the teams’ workflows. These include messaging platforms like Slack or document repositories like OneDrive for Business. The more functions can be integrated instead of being duplicated, the smoother adoption will be.
One of the advantages collaboration platforms offer is the automation of clerical or routine work. This can include automatically sending update emails to relevant stakeholders once a task has been marked as complete, or generating timelines and workflow charts when forms are filled out. Doing so frees up time for the team to dedicate to more valuable, nuanced work like problem-solving or brainstorming.
As with any digital platform, protection against cyberattacks is key. When teams work online, they’ll be accessing and sharing company information that is potentially sensitive, whose dissemination to outside parties could have financial or reputational consequences for the organization. You must therefore ensure that the collaboration platform has built-in security features specifically designed to protect the sensitive information teams will be working with. Modern collaboration platforms should come with frequent security updates, advanced threat prevention systems, and encryption capabilities out of the box.
6. Ease of use
Finally, the purpose of online collaboration tools is to facilitate the working process for employees. Thus, it’s critical that the tool is intuitive, and eases day-to-day functions instead of complicating them. While all tools take some getting used to at first, a good user interface and considered design go a long way.
Make sure you get off on the right foot when choosing online collaboration platforms. Call Healthy IT today.