How To Select The Best Collaboration Software For Your Team

Published: March 12, 2021

Profile Image 1We can all agree that marketers are having a pretty tough time trying to retain customers during the pandemic. To outsiders, this can sound like a bizarre thing to claim. In 2020, the industry became one of the highest growth job categories, according to LinkedIn. Surely, more hands mean less work. And less work means less stress, right?

Contrary to popular belief, marketers are overwhelmed. Companies had to rapidly evolve in the wake of Covid-19, shifting their focus almost exclusively to digital marketing, content production and social media. It’s that shift that has left many marketing departments overwhelmed. But, as Henry Ford famously said,

“If everyone moves forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

It sounds simple enough, but as any manager can tell you, the “getting everyone moving” together part can be nightmare-inducing.

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Enter team collaboration software: With one program you can manage, coordinate and plan your team’s workflow. The net result? Reduced bottlenecks and improved productivity.

At least, that’s the idea.  

It’s certainly true that collaboration software should be an essential part of your remote work strategy. However, the sheer number of programs available can boggle the mind. With each application promising a unique and seamless experience, how do you figure out which one’s for you?

Identify Your Needs & Goals

It sounds like cliché advice, yet no one ever seems to sit down with a pen and paper to map out what they need from their software, nor do they set clear-cut goals on how to judge future performance. To most, this sounds like the kind of thing that only the most obsessive of managers would try.

That leaves the alternative approach, where the thinking usually goes, “I’ve heard this one’s pretty good — let’s try it.” Whether you base that conclusion on user reviews, word of mouth or everyday marketing, it doesn’t guarantee that your chosen collaboration software is right for you.

That one review could have been based on the program’s ability to coordinate the trialing and testing of a free alternative to Webex. You, on the other hand, might have long-term, highly technical projects in the works. There’s a distinct gulf between the two cases.

To determine what program is best for you, you can survey your needs by asking your team questions such as:

  • What bottlenecks do you frequently encounter?
  • Which projects do you most need help with?
  • Which repetitive tasks take up most your time?

By keeping the questions open, you’ll allow your team to really brainstorm ideas and pretty soon, you’ll understand your specific needs.

You’ll go from simply thinking that your team needs help with general document processing to knowing — in detail — the specific bottlenecks that get in the way.

It’s with these needs in mind that you can finally start to build a set list of criteria by which you can judge any collaboration software. Don’t forget those goals! Keep them safe somewhere for now; we’ll come back to them later.

Trial, Trial & Trial Again

And by “later,” I mean we’re coming back to your goals now. After all, they’re key to deciding which collaboration software is right for you once you’ve tried it.

Take the time to try two or three specific programs that you believe will meet your needs. You want a wide enough sample that you still have options should one or even two fail to meet expectations.

That said, it can be all too easy to inundate your teams with different collaboration software, especially when using them to coordinate between different departments. Should one team trial the software shortly after it’s phased out for their partner team, interdepartmental collaboration can be severely hampered.

To avoid this, set clear dates and times as to when your teams should be switching from one type of collaboration software to another. Before you click away from your calendar, bring those goals back in and add them to your calendar, too.

As you progress through each trial, take detailed notes and check them against your calendar so you can objectively judge the success of each trial against a consistent set of goals.

Now’s The Time To Review

Trials alone don’t mean much unless they’re subject to review. The danger is that people can fall victim to all sorts of cognitive pitfalls, like recency bias, where they view the most recent trial as the best performing one.

Now’s the time to dig into your notes. The more detail you’ve kept, the easier this will be. Don’t be scared to admit failure where mistakes have happened. Have your attempts to automate inventory management really worked? If not, be honest.

If none of the sampled software programs have lived up to your initial expectations, let alone satisfied your needs, don’t worry. With dozens of platforms already available, there are plenty more to sample and review.

Repeating the whole process again can feel like punishment for a mistake you didn’t make, but you know what? If it means you find the right collaboration software in the end, the whole thing will have been worth it.

Elea Andrea Almazora is the SEO Content Optimization Manager for RingCentral, the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade’s worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.

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