Online collaboration has transformed how organizations of all sizes and industries interact and perform.
From one-person businesses leveraging automation to scale with ease to large multinationals interacting remotely with clients and teams, technology has countless uses in everyday business. Online collaboration tools ease the burden of repetitive work from teams and open space for creative solutions and more effective use of their time.
This blog outlines the top three simple ways your organization can leverage online collaboration software to improve your clients’ experience and enable your team to do more with less.
3 Ways To Embrace Online Collaboration
One of the simplest ways to adopt online collaboration is by choosing tools that simplify a single task by enabling your team to work interconnectedly. Collaborative work tools are a range of task-oriented software that include features like creating flow charts, sharing feedback, mocking up designs, or sharing documents.
You can usually identify a collaborative work tool because after completing the specific task at hand, you will only come back once you have to complete the same task in another context.
A great example of a collaborative work tool is a cloud-based document editor that allows you to share files for others to access remotely in real-time. Whereas your team could spend days sending a document with edits back and forth, cloud-based editors mean that all they need to do is jump into a file to see changes and provide real-time feedback for the team to see. Not only does this lessen the time spent providing feedback. It also removes redundancies and can save you from human errors like missing a crucial comment in the collating process.
Collaborative work software also encompasses communication, as it is the core of collaboration. However, one of the biggest hurdles for hybrid and remote teams is that communication is often instinctive instead of having a systematic approach.
Many companies have policies regarding the use of scheduled meetings, emails, and bulletin boards. And your PM software, which we will cover next, is a powerful communication enhancer that enables transparency and accountability across your teams. Creating standards and systemizing the way coworkers communicate about projects and deliverables helps keep everyone on the same page and the project on track.
Productivity tools are those designed to enhance what humans can do. For example, a tool like HubSpot, which automates your sales cycle, can perform the work of your sales team automatically once it is set up, freeing up your employees to engage with prospects instead of running processes and updates manually.
Another example of a productivity tool is Zapier, which connects a wide range of apps to automate steps as simple as creating a record when a prospect fills out a form or as complex as enhancing security and compliance.
When properly implemented, productivity tools keep your projects moving forward and require little maintenance, lowering your operational costs and providing standardized results.
Work management software is what most workers would think about when asked about online collaboration. Work management tools are solutions designed to assign and track deliverables in a project. Some examples include Asana and Smartsheet, but the possibilities are endless!
It varies by platform, but most project management tools have a combination of tasks, assignees, start date/deadline, dependencies, and associated files organized in a central board for the project team to see. The biggest PM tools also offer powerful automation both within the app and with other platforms like Slack and Google Sheets, ensuring that information makes it to its intended recipient and manual labor is reserved for the actual project vs. the management side.
One benefit of project management tools is increased accountability. Used correctly, your project board enables your entire team to be up-to-date on the latest developments and stay on track to meet your objectives.
A common obstacle to implementing new management software is the upfront investment. It takes time and many work hours to migrate your team’s systems to a new platform, not to mention the actual cost of the subscription. However, this tool also carries a huge potential for improving your team’s performance in the long run. So it pays to explore the possibilities and potential solutions before making a decision.
The Biggest Challenge in Online Collaboration Is Usually Resistance To Change
Online collaboration is a powerful productivity enhancer that can boost your company and help you reach your objectives more quickly and provide your employees with a greater life-work balance. However, it may be difficult to secure buy-in from your team as you try to adopt different solutions and tools. The reason? Change is intimidating. People are used to the way things have always been — even if they logically understand that they’re not the best they could be.
There are many strategies for overcoming resistance to change and earning buy-in in your organization. First, you’ll want to address the current challenges your team is facing and their negative impact on your organizational objectives. This initial prep work may even highlight more significant consequences than you realize, like inflated operational costs or gaps in service that affect the client’s experience or the quality of the work you provide.
Next, it pays to start slow: You will need a strategy in place to effect positive change. Jumping into any tool that looks appealing will leave you with significant costs, a loss of productivity, and a team that’s even more averse to change. A strategic approach will allow you to step back and find the areas of improvement and create a plan to address them systematically.
And finally, instead of entirely replacing the systems your team has in place, begin by embracing smaller changes that address immediate pain points and bring quick wins. Once your team realizes the power of adopting the tools you propose, they will be more willing to cooperate.
Are you ready to improve the way your team collaborates? Book a consultation now to learn more about lean project management and how to bring order to your organization.