Using Team Collaboration Tools to Boost Efficiency
When your small business is in its infancy, with only two or three people on payroll, it’s easy to communicate and collaborate with your team. But, as your business grows and time becomes more precious, you’ll need the right digital collaboration tools to help you and your employees get organized.
How Digital Collaboration Tools Can Help
As the remote workforce grows and new cloud-based collaboration tools hit the market, small businesses are looking beyond email and file-sharing sites to adopt more sophisticated, yet affordable, technology platforms to streamline collaboration efforts and work more efficiently.
Collaboration tools — such as Microsoft Teams, monday.com, Trello, Asana, Google’s G Suite and Slack — can bring many benefits to your business. These tools clearly delineate team responsibilities, help employees stay on track, save time, improve productivity, and ensure clarity of communication.
Choosing the Right Team Collaboration Platform
With so many choices out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Do you invest in a standalone collaboration tool to help track projects and enable centralized communication across teams? Or, perhaps you want to incorporate certain communication elements, such as chat, video conferencing and file sharing.
Each business is unique, with different problems that need solving. Before you select a team collaboration tool, ask yourself the following questions:
- What problem are you trying to solve? Take time to assess your core needs. If you’re looking for a better way to allocate tasks to employees and track progress, tools like Trello, Asana and monday.com are worth considering. If you want to streamline some of your communication tools like email, text and phone calls, Slack is a popular option for managing all of your team communication needs from a single location. For a more comprehensive, centralized online productivity and collaboration platform, G Suite or Microsoft Teams may serve your needs well. Once you’ve identified your core needs, you can add on the “nice to have” functionalities.
- Who will be using the software? Will the tool be used by a select group of users or scaled across teams? Consider your employees’ experience levels and digital preferences, especially if they’ve used a certain tool at another job and loved it.
- Do you need data integration? Is it important that the tool integrates and is interoperable with other software and systems in your organization for seamless data sharing? Slack, for example, integrates with MailChimp, Google Drive, Outlook, Zendesk and more.
- What security features do you need? Is encrypted chat important? What about multi-level user authentication and security credentials management?
- What is your budget? Whereas cloud software has a relatively low cost of entry and predictable monthly fees, make sure to consider the ongoing costs, such as additional network bandwidth, user training and customer support.
How to Ensure a Successful Implementation
New software adoption is not without its challenges. Employees may be reluctant to use a new tool or they may struggle with adoption. Team collaboration is a big investment, so it’s important to get it right.
When you’ve found a tool that looks like it will address your needs, try it before you buy it. Most software providers offer a trial evaluation period. During this time, train your team and demonstrate how the tool will help them manage tasks and achieve their goals more efficiently. Gather feedback and use it to inform your decision-making process.
Once you’ve made your final choice, take steps to continuously assess your implementation for usability, efficiency, time-savings and, with any luck, employee satisfaction.
Did you know that Mastercard Small Business credit and debit cardholders in the US are eligible for a special Microsoft offer, at no additional cost: First-time Microsoft 365 Business or Office 365 Business Premium subscribers can get a complementary first four months with a one-year subscription, for up to 5 users (terms and conditions apply). Both Microsoft products include Teams, Microsoft’s collaboration solution.
Author: Caron Beesley
Caron Beesley is a content marketer and writer. A contributor to SBA, SCORE, and more, Caron is an expert at the nuances of small business ownership, the obstacles and opportunities, and can advise on best practices for success.