Tips for Buying Communication and Collaboration Technology
Communication and collaboration tools are essential in today’s workplace. Providing employees with apps that streamline work is key, but only if the solutions meet the needs of your workforce and are deployed strategically for success. The following tips for buying communication and collaboration technology will take you through the process from start to finish.
Step 1: Audit your existing communication and collaboration technology
Conduct an audit of existing software to find out what apps employees are using so you can see where there is overlap and where there are gaps. Consider the following questions:
- Are consumer apps (such as WhatsApp or GroupMe) being used? – This is a big security risk and administrative burden for companies.
- Are point solutions being used for safety alerts, messaging, phone calls, social selling, and employee advocacy? – Point solutions are not cost effective and don’t drive adoption.
- Do the current technologies create communication silos? – Silos create inefficiencies that inhibit the free-flow of information sharing and idea creation.
With a clear idea of the technology currently used at your company and ideas for improvement, it’s time to establish your objectives.
Step 2: Identify your key objectives
To keep your search focused, identify what it is you hope to get out of the new technology. There are countless solutions for communication and collaboration—you can easily narrow them down by focusing on what exactly your workforce needs and what goals your organization has. What is the specific problem you are trying to solve?
Make sure you keep your workforce in mind and find a solution that works for them. If you have desk-based workers you will need a different solution than what you deliver to deskless workers who are out in the field or in front of customers. If connecting the office with the field is a priority, make sure the solution works across desktop and mobile and is compatible with your standard devices and operating systems. Avoid being tempted by the newest, trendiest technology that doesn’t necessarily meet your organization’s needs.
With your goals in mind, it’s time to start analyzing options. There are some considerations to keep in mind.
Step 3: Create a must-have and nice-to-have checklist
Consider the following capabilities of the communication and collaboration technology:
- User-friendliness: Your company most likely employs people of various age-groups, each with their own technology comfort levels and work habits. For employees to adopt the solution, it needs to be easy to use. This is especially important for deskless workers who don’t have the time to deal with complicated or non-intuitive apps.
- Integrations with existing applications: To make the app really useful, it should integrate with different business and workflow apps so that employees can communicate and collaborate seamlessly—within the context of the work that’s being done.
- Purpose: It’s important to consider who the application was built for. Is it a solution for people who are based in an office or for those who work in the field? Was it created with your industry in mind?
- Scalability: Choosing a solution that can easily scale to fit your organization is crucial for longevity. It’s also important to ensure that the app works across all of the devices and operating systems that your workforce uses.
- Security and compliance: Think about the security, privacy and compliance requirements of your business. You need to ensure that only current employees and approved contractors are able to use the app. Consumer apps are never going to be an option, even if they are popular among your workforce.
- Administration: Central administration that allows IT to easily manage and provision users is crucial. This includes a way to immediately remove all access to the app and it’s data when employees leave the company.
4. Create an implementation plan
Once you’ve purchased a collaboration technology solution, it’s imperative to get it rolled out properly so that you get your ROI. The goal of implementation should be to drive adoption and successful use of the app across the workforce.
This may be a big change management initiative if employees will be learning a new way of getting work done—and not everyone is going to want to change. The plan should outline a strategy, objectives, tactics, and timelines. The vendor you choose may be able to help you with much of this process.
Key components to include:
- Explain why you are rolling new technology, including the goals and benefits
- Advertise and create hype around it – point out how it will make employees’ jobs easier
- Mandate usage to drive high adoption and provide best practices where applicable
- Provide continued training and education
Enjoy the ROI!