How often do you hear or use the following idioms at your workplace
- “Keep me In the loop”
- “Are we on the same page?”
If the answer is, quite often, then I suggest you to take a moment and read this article. The aim of this article is to emphasize on the fact that keeping your colleagues in the loop and on the same page is not an isolated task, rather it is a group effort. Also, when we talk about groups or teams being aware of such an effort, it is just the beginning, you need to train your team members to take actions accordingly.
The other question that you should think about is the medium through which these idioms propagate. It could be through email, telephone conversation or a meeting. In all of these cases, there is always a chance for messages to be lost or misinterpreted.
The final and the most important question is how you keep track of these messages or conversations. Keeping track of tasks and updates is perhaps the most important and the most difficult task of all. Old methods of tracking work include:
- Desktop based tools like Microsoft Project
These methods are not at all effective because of the simple fact that its visibility and accessibility is limited and it makes the process, person dependent.
If any of the above questions are relevant to you then chances are that your workplace does not use collaboration tools or if they do, they do not use the right tool.
Most successful companies make collaboration a priority and a key part of their corporate culture and to do so, the most important aspect of it is to choose the right tool. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for nurturing collaboration and when it comes to choosing the right tool, there is an abundance on the market and not every tool is useful for every team.
So, where do we start and how do we go about making the right decision about choosing the correct tool? To answer this question there are a couple of other questions that needs to be answered first:
What kind of team do you have and what are their needs?
A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. But this is just a formal definition. It is much more than that. This group of people also want to be recognized and valued for the work they do. They want to learn, grow and improve themselves and in doing so, each one of them views the team differently and hence the understanding of the word collaboration varies.
What tasks does your team perform and how do they perform it? Does your developer team communicate well with the management? Do you have teams of employees that belong to different departments?
Each team and each individual of that team will have their own working style and understanding this will help in choosing the right collaboration strategy.
How do you track work progress?
Different teams track work progress differently. It totally depends on the type of metrics they want to track. Developers use tools with integrated bug and issue tracking, while the marketing team uses tools to share information, ask questions and track updates on potential customers. The choice of tool is dependent on the problems that a team is trying to solve. It’s very important to be clear on:
- What you need to track?
- What actions you need to take based on this tracking?
- Who is responsible for taking the actions?
Choosing the right tool
Now based on above questions the next task is to choose the right type of collaboration tool for your team. The two important points that we have to keep in mind while choosing the right tool are:
- It should meet the needs of your business.
- It should be easy to setup and use.
There are many different categories of tools available in the market:
- File sharing tools
- Document based collaboration tools
- Project management tools
- Chat tools
- Video conferencing tools
- Knowledge sharing tools
- Social networking tools
The right collaboration tool for your team could be a mix of these categories or could be just one tool. The aim here is to cater to the requirements of all the teams in an organization so that everyone willingly collaborates through these tools. The right collaboration strategy and technology will help your team work as one.
Choosing the right collaboration tool is a long process which requires extensive research. You can start narrowing down your options based on the following:
- Company’s budget/Cost
- Size of your team
- Ease of use
- Must-have features
- Future enhancements
- Capability to add custom components quickly.
Next, you need to think about your collaboration strategy and which tool from your list is the best fit. The last and one of the most important step is to educate and train your employees to use the tool. The success or failure of your tool will depend on:
- Willingness of your teammates and other teams to use the tool effectively in their daily work.
- And that they themselves don’t become a tool of this tool.
Hope this has been a good read. If you have any questions or comments please do get in touch with us. Till then – Happy Collaborating!!