Employees who don’t work in the office can be hard to pin down and organize a meeting with. The use of collaboration software has solved this. But there are so many versions of the same software out there, companies might not know which to choose. Here are some questions you should ask when considering a collaboration software.
What Features Do You Need?
Clinked.com did a study in 2012 and it reports that companies don’t consider all the of the collaboration software tools important. This is why the features you should choose for your software are what you really need. You wouldn’t want to be paying for something that you will not get to use in the future. There are three Cs that your collaboration software should always have. These are:
- Your software should have effective communication tools, since this is what your software will be mainly used for. It should allow for an easy exchange of messages between team members and parties. Examples of communication tools are email, voice mails, video calls, instant messaging, group and private messaging.
- This is another selling point for collaborative softwares. So having conferencing tools is important. This will allow members of your team to have meetings without having to be in the same place. This allows telecommuting for your employees. Examples of conferencing tools are IM teleconferencing, forums or community boards, video conferencing, group chats, shared whiteboards and sharing of applications.
- Last C that your collaboration should have is coordination tools. This helps with facilitating group activities, scheduling appointments and delivering products. This should be present in your software to help manage more complicated and interdependent tasks. Examples of coordination tools are linked calendars, spreadsheets, time trackers, portals specifically for clients, status updates and alerts for new projects or news.
How Easy Is the Software to Use
One question that you should always ask when buying a software, any kind, is its ease of use. You wouldn’t want a software that is so complicated only the developer or IT experts can make use of it. A social collaboration software is something that you will have to teach to your employees, so the easier it is to use the better. One way to know if the software you are planning to subscribe to is easy to use is with the practice of free trials. This should be another question to ask by the way, is the company providing free trial? A free trial means the vendors are confident with their product because they are not shy in letting others try it. With free trial, you will get to know first-hand how to use and if it can be easily taught to others. You would also be able to see if there are unexpected problems that may arise with the use of the product. As much as possible, only go for softwares that will offer free trial.
Is It Within Your Means
This should be the first question you ask when you want to acquire a software. It has to be within the budget that you have set up for it. You also have to have a clear understanding of the pricing of the product before you pay for it. These are some more questions to consider regarding the price.
- Will it be perfect for you needs? Because you will pay a good amount of money, you should already have decided if it meets all the features that you will need for your company.
- Do you understand the pricing plans? The plan that you will get should be clear of the things that you will be getting. Ask questions and read the policies carefully because you don’t want to have hidden fees that have to be paid in the future. Everything should be clear on what is or what not you will get in the plan.
- Will it be worth it? Before you pay anything, you should ask yourself if it will be worth the amount of money you are willing to pay for it. The average amount of monthly expenses for a collaboration tool set for five members ranges from about $107 to $147. More members mean more money, so think carefully if it will be worth it and within your means.
Does It Allow Real Time Communication?
Other than communication tools, you should ask if the software allows for real time communication. This is important especially if you plan to have lots of meetings with your team members. The best collaboration software will have real time communication but others might not. There are times that what you are working on will be time sensitive, so immediate queries and answers are needed. You need messaging applications that are used in real time. This will also work best when you have customers that want to have a conference with you and your team. A report by McKinsey said that communication and collaboration has improved by 20-25% with the use of social technologies. Social technologies allow for real time communication. A social network in the collaboration software works best for large teams and organizations.
Where Is the Storage Cloud Based
For the collaboration software tools to work even if your team is not in the same place, it has to be cloud based. If it is cloud based, it can be available for anyone anytime and anywhere. This will work best for telecommuting employees. Another option for hosting is the on-premise version and this might work better for some companies. Read some collaboration software reviews to know what others are saying. To know if you should have an on-premise or cloud hosting, these are some questions to ask:
- Cloud hosting can vary in its expense but it provides flexibility. On the other hand in-house hosting may be more expensive but can provide certainty.
- If you want to start immediately using your software then using cloud based collaboration software is the way to go. Setting up the hosting for an in-house version might take some time.
- If you want an on-premise hosting, you would need a team of IT professionals to maintain your servers. While using cloud hosting would only require you to have an internet connection.
- There are countries that might have restrictions based on the data you store on the cloud. So read up on the restrictions to know if you can use cloud hosting or you should opt for the on-premise hosting.
Can It Handle Long Term Collaboration
If your company is task with ongoing projects then you should get an online collaboration software that can handle long term collaboration. Not all softwares are made to handle long term because the communication tools in them are limited. The best software for long term is one which will allow the team members to merge all communications, documents and files gathered throughout the whole project. With this, you also allow transparency and accountability within the team. If you want to know the best software then read some of the reviews of collaboration software available on the internet. The users can give unbiased opinions about the software and you would be able to know if it can effectively handle long term collaboration or not.
Can It Be Used With Other Tools
An important aspect of the best collaboration software is its ability to be integrated with other collaboration tools. It should be flexible and be able to connect with different platforms. This will help with the free flow of information. Here are some integration features that you should consider.
- Your software should be easily integrated with file sharing applications like Google Drive. This won’t be needed if your collaboration software has its own platform for file sharing.
- There would be a need for signing in and up. It would be great if your software can facilitate signing in with the use of existing accounts already. But for security reasons, the software’s own sign up process might be better.
- Share content with social media. Can your software be used with the social media sites directly to share content.
- Collaboration tools like calendars and time trackers should be easily integrated with your software. This is not needed if your software has these tools built in.
Is the Software Secure
Cornerstone did a survey of what could have caused failures in the workplace. The answer mostly is lack of collaboration. It can be seen that collaboration is very important in the workplace and the collaboration software has been a huge help to companies. This is why it is very important that the software a company uses is secure. There is sensitive information that is in the servers and security should be high on the priority list when considering the software that you will get. It should allow for high level encryption and hybrid storage for flexibility.
Get on board the collaboration train and don’t be left behind. If you want to get the best collaboration software it is best to ask the questions above before committing to anything. Don’t regret your decision and do a thorough research before getting anything.
What are users saying about the latest collaboration software? Read their reviews and find out.
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