Office collaboration software facilitates remote workers across the country and around the globe working together productively. Rather than exchange a series of emails or trying to get a conference call together, your company can use office collaboration software to increase productivity and simplify communications.
No matter the size of your company, the benefits of collaboration software for your virtual office can be worth the investment. From two-person teams to multi-departmental teams it’s easy to appreciate the team scheduling, document management, and ease of use of collaboration software. You can easily be overwhelmed by the variety of software options out there – It seems like there are new office collaboration tools popping up every day!
Collaboration tools can include:
- Project management systems
- Conferencing tools
- Data sharing
- And a multitude of other options.
Before you invest time and money in office collaboration, you need to decide on needs first. Here are few key points to help make the decision.
Which utilities are absolutely necessary?
Although office collaboration tools offer the same basic utilities (file sharing, to do lists, etc), there are some differences between programs. If you make a list of what your company absolutely needs before you begin your quest for a solution, you’ll be better poised to make the right decision.
Where is your organization experiencing bottlenecks and lack of communication?
If you have trouble answering the first question, you may need to speak to your team members, staff or collaborators about their experience working on projects. Is there a common area of slowdown (like getting everyone on a conference call at a set time) or a breakdown in communication (such as document versioning when collaborating via email)? Once you pinpoint the trouble spots, you’ll be able to find exactly what will serve your organization best.
Do you need a hosted or installed service?
For small to mid-sized businesses, it makes more sense to go with a hosted solution that’s installed on a remote server and maintained by the hosts tech department. Not only does this make it easy for your team members to access the system, but it puts any tech support problems in the hands of your service provider. Exceptions exist, but put a premium on cloud based systems and leave the self-hosted headaches to the big guys.
How do you envision your company growing in the next several years?
Look for an office collaboration solution that can grow with your company. When able, choose the lowest price plan that suits your needs because it is easier to negotiate an upgrade in the middle of a contract term than downgrade. One exception to that rule of thumb applies to solutions that are very difficult to migrate away from. If these types of solutions have a cap on the number of users or other limiting factors that your business could cross during the contract period – stay away.
What level of training will be required to use the system?
The members of your organization have different levels of “tech friendliness”. Unless you’re in a very high tech field, you need to keep your team’s level of expertise in mind when selecting a solution. Exploring a trial version of the software will help you evaluate the learning curve. Give preference to software solutions that have intuitive controls.
Office collaboration software *can* make your life and the business of being in business simpler. Ask yourself these questions, get feedback from your team, and then make your decision.