02 May Guide to More Effective Team Collaboration
To adapt and succeed, you must address the forces at play.
Advances in mobile communications technology have served as the major point for change for team collaboration and communications. Most people now have mobile devices that are a more powerful tool than the desktop computers that were in every office ten years ago. For many employees, a smartphone is the first thing they pick up in the morning and the last thing they put down at night. These devices have blurred the lines between work and play and have made it possible for employees to work anywhere and everywhere, which allows for increased team collaboration.
As a result, your employees now expect universal connectivity that will always allow them to maintain conversations with colleagues and customers — whether they are in the office, at the airport, or on the golf course — with whichever device they choose. At the same time, your customers expect that they will be able to connect and conduct business with your employees using a variety of communications options — from traditional phone calls to email, text messaging, video, and web chats.
These expectations are important to Generation X and Millennials that account for two-thirds of the global workforce. They will be made more important by Millennials, the digital natives that have grown up with the web and advanced personal devices at their fingertips.
This guide outlines five steps that will help you adopt the team collaboration and communications tools that address the speed and mobility requirements of your changing workforce. With the right tools, you can have more efficient interactions between employees and with your customers. It is allowing you to compete more effectively wherever your business takes you.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY TEAM COLLABORATION CHALLENGES
To get the right team collaboration and communications platform for your organization, you should first determine the challenges your employees are facing.
In today’s connected world, work is a constantly changing process that requires employees to collaborate to support a customer, solve a problem, measure results, or improve output. Communication between employees usually takes place with a variety of applications including emails, chats, texts, phone calls, voicemails, conference calls, video streaming, and document sharing. Employees are managing each application individually to stay connected with colleagues and keep projects moving. The sheer volume of tools and messages complicates the communications process, slows down collaboration, hampers decision making, and reduces productivity.
You can identify the team collaboration changes by evaluating your existing communications tools:
- What are the major frustrations with existing communications tools?
- Are complaints focused around missed calls, lost connections, ease of use, or a lack of integration?
- Are employees in your main office able to work effectively with employees in satellite offices?
Also, take into consideration that projects are no longer comprised of people working in the same location. Some employees may work primarily from their desks in a traditional office setting, while some may be scattered across different offices and locations. This makes it harder for teams to stay connected to maintain workflow.
STEP 2: DEFINE THE CAPABILITIES AND FEATURES EMPLOYEES NEED
The discovery process will reveal that your workforce includes a variety of perspectives, personal preferences, and ways to work. The demographics of your workforce will have a major influence on what you will need. Younger employees have grown up using the web and advanced personal computing devices. They are comfortable with using technology to facilitate new ways of working. They expect flexible hours, as well as the ability to work remotely.
Having employees working from multiple locations makes it difficult to ensure everyone is accessing the same information, documents, and other resources across the company. Team collaboration and communications platforms that use virtualization are no longer tied to a physical office location. These platforms enable access to documents stored in a central database and allow employees to provide updates anywhere. A cloud-based platform can cover functionality for all workspaces.
STEP 3: SELECT AN OPERATING MODEL
Business requirements change over time based on your assessment of employee needs. Does it make sense to move to a completely new platform for all your sites or just for satellite offices? You might want to consider the flexibility a move to the cloud will provide to adjust to the changing needs of your employees and your customers.
Decide how you want to deploy the new solution:
- Do you want to purchase it outright and have it in-house? Can it be managed by your IT team, or do you want someone else to manage it for you in the cloud?
- Does a virtualized data center make sense to service all employee needs?
- If you are moving to the cloud, do you need a private environment to provide the right balance between capabilities and cost?
- Should the solution be integrated into a traditional IP infrastructure or should it be migrated into a WebRTC environment?
Your solution should complement, not disrupt, your existing IT infrastructure.
STEP 4: CHOOSE A VENDOR
Look for a vendor with fully integrated solutions that address your immediate requirements and provide a seamless evolutionary path to more advanced features and functions when you need them. This will make it easier to keep employees connected, streamline communication, enable seamless collaboration, and make interactions as effective and efficient as possible.