Ramon Ray from the Small Biz Tech Magazine, recently published a video from the Boston leg of the Small Business Tech Tour, held late last year. The video features a panel of experts in the online collaboration industry moderated by Laurie McCabe, including our own Shahab Kaviani at HyperOffice. The topic of discussion is “How to Listen Inside Your Company?“.
The discussion revolves around some basic issues related to collaboration and collaboration suites – What are collaboration suites? Why do you need them? What are the internal or external warning signs which tell you that you need a collaboration suite? How much effort does it require to implement one in your organization?
Someone like the blogger, who is deeply involved in the collaboration industry, might sometimes lose perspective on these basics. This discussion is a refreshing re-orientation, and a reminder of the critical need and palpable benefits of collaboration and collaboration suites in the day to day working of a company in the new business environment.
SMBs will instantly relate to the discussion because it starts from their daily operational needs, and then justifies the use of collaboration software to satisfy those needs. This video is also a great introduction for SMBs who may have heard a lot of background noise about collaboration software, but want to find more, and beginning to ask critical questions like – are collaboration suites for me? is now the right time?
What are Collaboration Suites?
Every company utilizes some tools to work together with people inside and outside the organization – IM, web conferencing, email, document management etc. Rather than having scattered tools, and having problem linking different pieces of collaboration, collaboration suites combine all of these tools into a single integrated suite accessible over the web. HyperOffice is one of the leading evangelists of fully integrated communication and collaboration tools.
Why are the signs that my company needs collaboration tools?
1) If you are a small business which notices that it is going to pass the 2-3 office location mark, rather than setting up costly servers in house to enable employees to share information, it may be more efficient to simply subscribe for an online collaboration suite.
2) As a company increasingly gets work done from outside contractors, who are deeply involved in its work, using an online collaboration suite to enable collaboration and information sharing is in order. This makes sense since you have no control over the contractor’s tech environment, and collaboration suites require no more than a web browser to be used by either party.
3) If a company finds that everyone’s inboxes are increasingly unmanageable due to emails being used for scheduling, document attachments being sent back and forth, task assignments and so on, it makes sense to move these collaborative needs to collaboration tools designed specifically for those purposes.
People are just too addicted to email. How do I garner adoption for a collaboration suite in my company?
Adoption is mainly a function of how motivated a team is to employ a collaboration suite. Leaders play an important role. A leader can spearhead implementation and adoption by encouraging employees to resist the temptation of email, and use the right collaboration tool for the right purpose. Sometimes it may simply mean mild coercion. For example if someone sends a manager a document as an email attachment, they should ask the employee to upload it in the document management system. Or if they try to schedule a meeting through email, send them to the company calendar.