• United States
by Brett Trusko

Before you deploy

Jul 28, 20033 mins
Collaboration SoftwareEnterprise ApplicationsSmall and Medium Business

Five things to consider before deploying team technology.

Categories and features of collaboration software are blurring quickly. The term ‘collaboration’ has become the new marketing catch phrase, devoid of meaning and dismissed as another fad. So for this reason, we’ll call it “team technology.”

You can approach team technology from as many directions as there are people who work. Workers can be in the same office, in different locations, teleworkers, distributed teams, designers, writers or trash collectors. The ability for one application to work for all the many ways people and teams work today is impossible. Before you deploy, consider the following five key questions:

1) Where does your team do most of its work?

A far-flung consulting team that works all day on an airplane won’t be attracted to an ASP or Web-based product. Conversely, a team of product designers working in the same office may be delighted by a hosted service.

2) Are outside partners going to participate?

Teaming with outside partners that don’t have the same applications as your company will cause great frustration. A long-time trusted partner working in a Macintosh shop may not appreciate it when you institute a PC-based collaboration platform. This will lead to either dual work processes or a severed relationship. An Internet-based platform may not be the best choice for the way you work, but the ability to work with partners may outweigh this.

3) Are you standardized on your technology?

Many companies in transition (especially in this economy) are not standardized on an operating system. The less standardized the environment, the more likely your company will be forced to move to an Internet-based team technology.

4) What is the pace of your company?

Team technology takes some extra effort. In many cases, an employee who doesn’t utilize existing technology effectively doesn’t have the time to learn the features and tools of a new technology. A company that is fast-paced may do better to implement a simpler technology (intuitive and aesthetically pleasing) instead of the full-featured boat. For example, look at instant messaging applications – voice and video may be used once or twice, but these features are too much trouble for most employees to use consistently. Too many features may actually discourage use.

5) What are your current work processes?

If adding team technology doesn’t positively affect your work processes, it won’t create the anticipated return. In many cases, the team technology may not integrate with your present systems, and may create extra steps in the work process. Understanding the processes and simulating the changes required are essential.

Conclusion: Team technology can be deceptively complicated. Evaluating the way your company works and finding the best fit for the company’s personality are the keys to success in this space. True collaboration can only be beneficial when it is considered the same way as other management decisions – with ROI being more than just installing an application.

Editor’s note: For a deeper look at what should be taken into consideration when implementing a collaborative workspace, take a look at Brett Trusko’s presentation “ Collaborative workspaces and virtual teaming “.