Collaboration tools: 6 aspects to consider during evaluation

Collaboration tools can help companies enhance their business applications and improve productivity. Consider these factors while evaluating collaboration tools.

Smoother flow of internal communications, and better teamwork, are the key drivers behind the adoption of collaboration tools by businesses in India. Collaboration tools can improve productivity by integrating into existing business applications.

Given below are six factors to consider while evaluating collaboration tools.

1. Size of your organization: Collaboration tools are required by all types of businesses, large and small. But different businesses have different needs. For instance, speed and innovation are critical aspects for mid-market companies. These companies have ’people issues’. Knowledge-capture is not internalized in their processes. Small companies and startups usually do not have enough automation or content/ document management systems. They primarily rely on email and are people-dependent. Hence these players need collaboration tools that are effective and speedy.

On the other hand, large companies that house large, dispersed teams have to deal with information gaps and operational delays, which may result in loss of productivity. Hence, they need collaboration tools that can fill up the information gaps and provide improvements in efficiency and speed.

2. User-friendliness of the collaboration tools: Companies employ people of different age-groups, each with their own work habits. For example, while senior management may prefer email, mid-management may be more comfortable using social media. A modern collaboration tool should, therefore, interface with social media platforms, as well as with email. Only then will those collaboration tools be deemed suitable by users.

3. Integration with existing applications: In a company, employees work on different business applications such as CRM, SCM, ERP, etc. Companies should choose collaboration tools that will integrate well with existing tools and business applications. Social software can help companies use their business applications more effectively. For example, a salesman can quickly communicate a wrongly placed order to his team using a collaboration tool.

4. Integration with your company’s work environment: Every company has its own working style and culture. Introducing a collaboration tool is like giving it a makeover.

The social software should include features to help companies in branding and choosing their color schemes to give it a personal touch. These features of collaboration tools encourage business users to adopt them quickly.

5. Have you provisioned for change management?

Employee acceptance is important to the success of enterprise collaboration tools.  The backing of top management is equally important. Employees may also need to be trained to use these tools. So assess if your company has already created a change management plan before buying a collaboration tool.

6. Security: Security features such as assigning role-based access is a must. Another feature to look for in collaboration tools is the ability to create groups. This will help address privacy issues to a great extent. For instance, the feature can be critically important to meet the confidentiality needs of business processes such as compensation reviews.

About the author:  Jay Pullur is the founder and designer of Qontext and SocialTwist. He has more than 20 years of experience in the software industry, mainly in building products for new markets. After a stint at Wipro, Pullur founded Pramati Technologies.

(As told to Anuradha Ramamirtham)

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