Connecting employees in disparate locations and across multiple devices is more important to workforce productivity than ever before. Most organizations recognize this, which has led to an increase in the number of ways employees can communicate with one another. In addition to traditional email, employees oftentimes have access to tools for chat, document sharing, project management, social media sharing, video conferencing, and more.
However, while this opens the door for easy communication, the very tools that are meant to simplify our lives are taking over the workplace. How do you decide which tools to use and when? Where do you share documents? When should you send an email vs. send a chat message vs. post it on the company Intranet? We’re throwing tools at tasks instead of rethinking how or why we communicate the way we do across so many channels. With this in mind, many organizations are looking to consolidate their tools into one that can cover multiple aspects of communication.
Consolidation is a natural and necessary phase for any organization. Knowing which platform to use creates a consistent, reliable, and engaged experience. It enables employees to share information and work as effectively as if they were sitting side by side. Plus, from a maintenance standpoint, consolidation simply means less to manage. So how do you go about making it happen?
Identify Necessary Tools
As a starting point, identify the stand-alone tools and applications you want to consolidate and which ones your organization can do without. This can be done by asking employees how they typically handle workflow and communication. Some may prefer to have chat discussions using a particular application, while others may prefer to make comments in specific files and send them as email attachments. Common themes will emerge that will reveal tool preferences and shed light on employee behavior.
Determine Overlapping and Unused Tools
Next, create a list of tools and applications that employees frequently use and compare it to the master list. This will help determine which are repetitive or overlap, and which are underused or neglected. Once you have a pared down list of tools, you’ll be able to determine which are essential and which can be eliminated. Perhaps you can abolish an audio bridge if you have a video conferencing platform that provides the same service. Or perhaps there are multiple tools that provide a chat function, but employees only use one.
Choose Which Tools to Eliminate
By showcasing which tools overlap and which are simply not used, it’s easy to make a case to remove them from the technology stack. The next step is perhaps the hardest part—choosing which ones to consolidate when there are different teams using separate (but similar) tools. For example, if three teams are using three different project management tools, it may be time to choose one to deploy across the enterprise. But how do you choose which one to use? Take a look at things like total organization usage, number of available features, enterprise security, and cost to determine which is the ideal solution for the enterprise. In addition, any tool that offers comprehensive analytics will be beneficial in helping you determine future ROI.
Make Chosen Tools Easy to Use
In most organizations, there will be pushback when new tools are introduced or eliminated. The fact of the matter is that people are resistant to change. However, the transition period can be managed better if tools are simple and intuitive. Many applications have plugins for Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Google Calendar, and others to make it possible to collaborate, share goals, and message peers in an interconnected ecosystem. By integrating these tools and showing employees how easy it is for them to work together, you can make it possible for them to collaborate more productively than before.
The future of unified workplace communication and centralized toolsets has arrived. By keeping your consolidation checklist focused and thorough, you’ll identify the most useful tools, and the ideal candidates for consolidation, while transitioning to a highly agile workplace.