Technology is continuing to introduce new and innovative ways for us to communicate both in and outside of the office. Within the workplace, collaboration tools are important in facilitating efficiency; the productivity gains are a no-brainer, but most of us take it for granted how much such tools can help our teams. There is still a significant gap between the most effective forms of communication available and what employers and employees choose to adopt in their day-to-day roles. A recent survey* confirms this and highlights that inefficient communications and collaboration practices currently costs UK companies £8,000 per employee every year.
In fact, despite exposure and introductions to new collaboration technology, employees waste nearly an entire day each week on inefficient working practices. The conveniences of chat and collaboration tools are being overlooked with just nine per cent of respondents admit to using them regularly. Despite how embedded chat and instant messaging are in our personal lives, low adoption in the workplace suggests enterprises are not offering a cohesive communications experience.
Often, the implementation of whether a collaboration tool has been successful or not takes into account ease of implementation over user experience. Herein lies the crux of the issue, organisations need to re-evaluate approaches to workplace efficiency. With this in mind we have outlined seven ways that you can determine the real impact of your collaboration software.
- Do you have a training programme in place?
No matter what collaboration software you choose to implement, without a consistent on-boarding process, you are wasting your time. Lack of employee adoption will render any tool as inefficient. To alleviate IT help desk tickets, establish a well thought-out training programme for your team to explain the ins and outs of your new software. It’s a good idea to provide both a training video and slide deck, as well as a quick reference guide with enough detail to train video-resistant employees.
- Are you using the right collaboration tool for the right purpose?
Collaboration tools are not created equal. Your audio conferencing tool may not be able to handle video conferencing add-ons, and your chat systems may not work when employees are operating in vastly differing time zones. Assess where, when and how your employees are communicating, and look at whether the collaboration tool you’re using was designed to handle that type of task.
- How many external applications are your employees using?
Shadow IT is pervasive (not to mention costly), and some enterprises are adapting by allowing for consumer-grade applications at the individual and department level. While this may work for some companies, it poses a real security and productivity threat. How much time is your IT team wasting trying to learn how to fix bugs in user-downloaded applications?
Taking a moment to survey some of your key user types and identifying how many apps each level of user is implementing is helpful. It can enable you to discover why they prefer these applications to the company-provided approved ones. The feedback on app usage will vary dramatically between user types and themes between these will help identify where you’re having productivity struggles.
- Keep track of your IT requests
This feeds off tracking external application usage: how much time is your IT team spending each day on requests for non-company-approved applications? How many questions are you getting about your company-approved ones? Get some hard numbers from your help desk tickets to determine whether your current collaboration system, or the range of consumer-grade applications your team are using are costing your company.
- Do your company’s collaboration tools take into account users outside your company?
One huge reason departments look outside the company for consumer-level collaboration tools is that many of their conversations take place with external vendors or customers. Make sure your collaboration tools are designed to work with such parties.
If your team works closely with external people on a regular basis (try to get an estimate of time, if you can), it may also make sense to choose a collaboration tool that can integrate with consumer collaboration tools.
- Bring it back to revenue
Linking the technology your team uses with revenue sounds complicated, and sometimes it can be. But for back of the envelope calculations, you can boil it down to a few key factors:
- What is your average office worker’s hourly cost to your business? In other words, how much is their time worth in real money?
- How much time is your collaboration system saving/costing an employee in a given day?
- Multiply the hourly cost by the time saved per day (in hours) and scale that back up to yearly figures
- Do you have a unified communications (UC) strategy in place?
With nearly 40 percent of businesses lacking a UC strategy, it’s not surprising so few attempt to connect their collaboration technologies back to ROI.
Having a strategy for unified communications helps to reduce unproductive activities (e.g. does adding a consumer-level file sharing application fit the UC strategy for data security for a multinational enterprise?) and keep your team running efficiently. It also gives you a benchmark from which to make future decisions. Once you’ve created a strategy, year over year you can tweak and compare decisions, to help narrow down the real life impact of your tech.
In today’s mobile workforce, collaboration technologies are a given. But that doesn’t mean that their impact on your company should be. With a UC strategy in place and hard numbers to support you, you will be able to quantify whether your collaboration tools are helping your business, or costing you time and money.
*The independent survey, conducted by Webtorials surveyed participants across the UK, Europe and the US to uncover their preferred methods and tools for communicating both inside and outside an organisation.