Although it’s rare to have too few enterprise collaboration tools, having too many is a common problem. Before you decide to add a new enterprise collaboration tool to your portfolio of enterprise applications, it’s important to establish a clear business objective that will be accomplished by the potential tool.
Think about the end in mind up front. What will your company look like after the tool is launched? Will adoption be seamless and intuitive? Or will you have cannibalization between different applications? Tools that are implemented without a clear business case are likely to run into adoption challenges once they are launched.
Thinking that more tools are the solution isn’t a sustainable strategy. The notion that you can manage your IT offerings as an app store by offering thousands of applications to choose from is misguided. Often, companies introduce new enterprise collaboration tools for the wrong reasons, such as:
- Awareness – They don’t know what capabilities they already have
- Strategy – Lack of clarity about the tool’s place in the technology landscape
- Training – Lack of training on existing tools
Here are five tips for avoiding the problem of too many enterprise collaboration tools:
- Commit to a single platform, rather that multiple platforms: A tool like Microsoft SharePoint is a very large, multi-purpose platform that’s highly customizable and scalable. You’ll be best served in maximizing the return on your investment by committing to one platform in addressing your users’ needs. Operating multiple platforms can create blurred lines and heavily increases the level of technical training needed for the organization.
- Avoid chasing the latest trends: Keeping pace with industry trends and frameworks is critical for many service organizations to deliver value. If users feel you’re constantly switching tools on them, they’re likely to become frustrated and will hesitate to adopt. They will reason that the new tool is simply the flavor of the month and that the spark will fade out before long.
- Create an enjoyable user experience: If employees don’t like using a collaboration tool, you’re facing an uphill battle for adoption. The most widely adopted tools are designed with the user in mind. Choose a platform that resonates with users and balances form and function.
- Monitor usage across tools: Whenever possible, make data-driven decisions based on usage and user experience research. Avoid making assumptions about what we think works best and run reports to understand what tools and their specific features are most commonly used.
- Focus on scaling successes: Once you identify what collaboration tools are working best for your users, look for ways to replicate that success. The “fail fast” philosophy used by many successful start-up companies is reliant on having no reservations about pivoting your strategy. If you observe several months of low/no usage, don’t be afraid to abandon a tool. Instead invest that time and energy into tools that go viral with your users.