Stop: Collaborate and listen

July 20, 2018 Ant Newman

I’m sure that if you asked Vanilla Ice, he’d tell you that your collaboration tools are the most visible, and perhaps most important, part of your IT infrastructure.

Whether it’s your audio and video conferencing, chat/IM, file and content sharing, meeting tools, contact centre solutions or simple desk phones, they’re the means through which your colleagues do their jobs and serve your customers.

Communication is a powerful thing

Used effectively, collaboration technology helps people be more productive. It boosts morale and fosters team spirit, even in distributed teams and among homeworkers. It can save a ton of money in travel costs to meetings and offsites. It helps you deliver better customer service, and speeds up nearly every business process.

You only need to listen to a start-up like 10x Banking talk about what collaboration means to them and you can feel the possibilities.

There’s no shortcut to a productive workplace

But getting your hands on all of those benefits is not as simple as putting a few new screens in your meeting rooms and pushing a new IM client on to everyone’s laptops on Monday morning — which is what often happens, because it’s easy to take communications tools for granted.

You can spend a load of money only to find that the equipment doesn’t fit with your business processes, or integrate with your other IT. You might find your inbox overwhelmed by questions from users about how to join meetings or share screens. Or, worst of all, you might find that your teams actually grumble about your shiny new tools, then ignore them and go back to faithful ol’ email.

There is an answer. Treat collaboration like any company change initiative: think long and hard about the people and process issues and put a plan in place.

How to achieve collaboration in the workplace

In our new ebook, “5 ways to achieve collaboration”, we’ve outlined (as the name suggests) five steps you can follow, working in your own team or with the help of services from your collaboration tool vendor or a partner.

  1. It starts with strategy. Work out what need you’re trying to fill, what benefits you expect to see, and put a plan in place for getting there.
  2. Get your finances in order. What happens if you need to refresh or scale, say to support a new office opening or recruiting some new home workers? You need to plan for the future and be smart about spending your budgets.
  3. Handle implementation the right way. Plan for security, the impact on your network, as well as integration with (for example) your CRM, HR or finance software suites.
  4. Think about the people. Communicate to your workforce about what you’re doing and why. Give them training and coaching to make sure they feel comfortable using collaboration to its fullest.
  5. Lastly, tackle user experience. Ensure the solutions you buy deliver the right availability and performance today and tomorrow. Make sure you’re well supported by your vendor, and plan ahead to make change non-disruptive.

Your people are your business, so the productivity and collaboration tools you give them are vitally important. It’s worth spending some time to make sure your teams get the full value from your investment.

To learn more, check out the ebook here.

About the Author

Ant Newman

Ant has been writing about the intersection of business and technology for nearly 15 years, working at companies large and small: from five-person marketing agencies to enterprises like Gartner and Cisco.

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