Having been preached to for years, enterprises are well-versed on the benefits that they stand to gain through cloud-based collaboration tools: increased productivity, increased agility, a truly connected workforce and importantly, cost savings.
Unfortunately, effective digital collaboration is one of those things that almost every enterprise agrees it needs, but very few are actually able to deliver on. The problem is that while most companies are trying to improve performance by investing in a variety of new technologies, the results tend to fall short: one-off initiatives deployed in isolation by individual departments; a new tool that creates more productivity issues than it solves; a short-lived spike in adoption that isn’t sustainable.
Many enterprise leaders reading this will be forgiven for believing that they’ve already ticked-off their digital collaboration objectives. They’ve deployed a file-sharing system, an extranet to share content with clients, video conferencing, and are seeing strong adoption – so what else is there?
The reality is, despite these shiny new technologies, many employees are still battling with mundane tasks. A survey of 200 US and UK professional service firms in 2016 found that 33 percent of professionals were still missing deadlines because they were waiting for approvals. Worse still, 68 percent admitted to working on a file, only to discover that it wasn’t the latest version. And let’s not even start on the vast amounts of information and specialised knowledge that is still solely stored within an individual’s emails. It’s here that productivity suffers, and the right digital collaboration tools are needed to help an enterprise.
Here are three signs that more efficient collaboration tools are needed within your enterprise:
You have too many tools
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Digital collaboration is often entered into cautiously – one department, workflow or business function at a time. This is entirely understandable and logical. But if care is not taken, organisations can be left with dozens of disconnected point solutions. When this happens, employees become frustrated and productivity actually suffers.
For example, employees whose job involves handling or using a lot of information – lawyers, teachers, and scientists – tend to use on average eight different collaboration tools every day to perform their jobs. Switching between this many tools to perform different tasks – edit documents, share comments, and coordinate deadlines – can create significant interruptions to workflows. Added to this burden, piecing together information from these various sources is time-consuming, audit trails are accidently broken, and team updates are easily missed.
The only real solution is a single collaboration tool that is sufficiently flexible to accommodate any style of working. This allows employees to spend less time organising documents and tasks, chasing approvals, and searching through email – and more time delivering exceptional results.
Your existing tools aren’t being used
Low adoption rates are often caused by individual reticence to change, usually caused by the individual not appreciating how the new tool will improve their way of working or benefit them personally. Everyone has their own motivations, targets, preferences and suspicions when it comes to changes in how they work. These differences can be categorised into personas, which each need to be treated in very specific ways. Failing to do so will result in adoption being undermined, schedules lengthening and project costs spiralling.
For example; one persona that IT teams encounter regularly is the Champion. This person is the c-level supporter of the new technology and is personally invested in its success. They will, of course, be vocal about the new technology, but need to see progress being made quickly, and want to be kept in the loop at all times. For this persona, IT teams must take care to alert the champion to the achievement of roll-out milestones and the delivery of benefits.
The opposite of the Champion is the Laggard. These are time-poor employees, who view training as burdensome and aren’t convinced by the need for the new technology, no matter its purpose. However, motivated by company-wide success, they do care about initiatives that will help both their team and company perform better. With this persona, IT teams should regularly present evidence of the technology’s necessity, not only for themselves but also for the wider company or within the market. Alongside these are Detractors (resistant to change and vocally so), Dependents (eager and enthusiastic, but lacking in technical capability so require extra training), Passives (quiet and compliant, but slow adopters), and many others besides.
Driving user adoption is not just a simple case of identifying personas and communicating with them appropriately. It’s about achieving a delicate balance amongst them all that – if dealt with poorly – can ultimately jeopardise user adoption. But get it right, and you’ll accelerate the deployment timescale and adoption rates – and your ROI.
You need to be in the office to get anything done
We are no longer tethered to a physical place of work or even a particular device. While the need for mobility exists and the argument is well-understood, the promise of mobile working is still just that for many – a promise.
Businesses tend to find that despite having rolled out many different digital collaboration tools, workflows still get interrupted as the functionality available on a mobile device don’t match those of an office-based PC. This shouldn’t be the case. Approvals should not be held up by a key person travelling. Nor should the latest version of a vital document be difficult to track down.
Instead, a well-designed collaboration initiative should create a seamless experience across any device, in any location. Updates made to a document, task or comment stream should all be synchronised across all of your devices so that important updates from teams are never missed.
Effective collaboration is now rightly deemed essential to a business’ progress. But it is too often undermined by the excessive deployment of point solutions, lack of appreciation of individual characters in the roll-out and a failure to fully address mobility. The projects’ potential is, therefore, being left unfulfilled or lessened, and the reasons are frustratingly avoidable.