Analysis

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Collaboration Tools: Developing A Strategy For Your Organisation

Since COVID-19 has sent many workers online, you may have heard mention of “Tool” during your weekly ZOOM meetings. What are collaboration tools? Simply put, if collaboration is what happens
11 Jul 2020 09:59
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Collaboration Tools: Developing A Strategy For Your Organisation

Since COVID-19 has sent many workers online, you may have heard mention of “Tool” during your weekly ZOOM meetings. What are collaboration tools?

Simply put, if collaboration is what happens when two or more people communicate and interact to reach a common goal, then a collaboration tool enables that interaction.

In IT, these tools typically support:

  • Communication
  • Instant messaging
  • Video conferencing
  • VoIP (voice over IP)

Productivity

  • Document synchronization
  • Project management
  • Whiteboarding

Time Management

  • Calendaring
  • File Sharing
  • Task Management

Collaboration tools are designed to help optimize teamwork. Good tools should:

  • Foster communication capability: facilitate communication and interaction between participants with multi-functionality to achieve different goals.
  • Have an easy-to-understand interface: be easy and intuitive to navigate, emulating an existing tool or an aspect of the physical world.
  • Have the capability and expectation of collaboration: give the user reason to input information and expect a response.

Sounds great, right? Yes…. but as with any technology, there can be drawbacks as well and issues to be managed. If you work in IT or are managing a team or a company, you will want to avoid “Collaboration Invasion” and “Shadow IT”, and ensure you have a business wide strategy for onboarding, socialising, and securing your collaboration tools.

1. The “Collaboration Invasion”

Collaboration is the new norm – and there is a rainbow of digital assistants in the marketplace to choose from. However, due to this influx, tools designed to make us more efficient can also slow us down.

Not only do organisations lose money by purchasing tools that overlap with their current toolset but also productivity is destroyed when workers have to spend time switching between multiple tools.

“Many of these apps don’t share information, causing ‘islands’ of communication and collaboration to form, negating much of the benefit of using apps that should be better than email at enabling users.”

Scott Gode, CPMO, Unify Square (quoted in Brown, 2019).

For End-users, the issues are:

  • Employees use an average of four different collaboration apps
  • 69 per cent of employees spend up to an hour a day switching between apps

For IT users, the issues are:

  • 56 per cent of employees find searching for information in different apps disruptive
  • Apps that don’t share information make it difficult to discover and back up data

The result: 66 per cent of employees want a collaborative strategy to achieve better workflow.

2. Shadow IT

The situation is further complicated when employees seek out their own solutions for collaboration. This common practice is known as Shadow IT, or the use of information technology systems, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department approval. Lack of transparency on what tools are being used means that information shared through shadow IT cannot be coordinated, monitored, or regulated effectively.

IT needs to ensure all collaboration tools in use are approved and capable of being monitored.

Strategizing one’s collaboration toolset works to this end: it will be known what apps are being used and for what purpose.

The Bottom Line

Collaboration tools can greatly enhance productivity and facilitate team work, especially with the global shift toward remote working, accelerated by COVID-19. Some best practices that can be distilled from experiences to date, include:

1. Evaluate the current collaboration toolset to identify genuine overlaps and gaps.

2. Strategise what these toolset overlaps are. Use best-practice recommendations to determine which redundant overlapping tools should be phased out.

3. Fill toolset gaps. Build business requirements to fi ll toolset gaps and create an adoption plan for deploying new tools.

4. Establish metrics to measure the success of your collaboration strategy, including reduced costs from licences, IT support, onboarding, and bandwidth, diminished shadow IT and increase security by fully categorising your toolset, and enhance end-user satisfaction by improving workflow.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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