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How to pick the right collaboration tools

James A. Martin | July 21, 2017
IT pros say collaboration is a high priority to their organization, so it's important to choose wisely

Salesforce is another important player, because it can easily integrate countless third-party apps, notes Lundy. “As long as you have the permission to use the third-party app, you can start using it within minutes, without any coding required,” he said.

And don’t overlook Workplace by Facebook, said Lepofsky. Because the software is from Facebook, many users already know how to use it. Plus, it’s “completely enterprise-grade,” integrating with Microsoft Active Directory, Salesforce and other enterprise tools.   

 

Best practices for picking collaboration software

As with any technology acquisition, the choice of collaboration software should follow a disciplined process:

 

Focus on the problem, not the technology

It’s easy to get seduced by technology — but it’s much more important to keep in mind the problems you’re trying to solve, Lepofsky said. “Think about why you’re looking at new collaboration software. Is it to help the sales team sell? Increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns?”

Answering those kinds of questions first will help you “figure out what you need,” he said. “If someone says to me they should be using Slack, my response is, why should you be using it?”

 

Avoid jumping on the latest ‘buzzy’ tool

Getting distracted by a hot new collaboration tool with buzz is a common mistake enterprises make, said Jerry Evangelista, IT solutions architect at Sungard Availability Services. “Just because a collaboration suite is a great solution for a startup doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for a midsized or large organization. It’s the IT organization’s responsibility to understand the company’s needs and pick a solution that best meets those needs.”

 

Go with tools users love

Often, a user sets up a trial for a cloud-based collaboration tool, such as Slack, because it’s easy to do, said Kennedy. That user may fall in love with the software and encourage the rest of his or her team to use it. Whenever possible, let team members use the tools they love, because their enthusiasm will likely make them more productive.

 

Investigate the security features

As with any new software, be clear about a collaboration tool’s security features, options and admin controls, said Lundy. For example, does the group chat tool offer end-to-end encryption? Also, it’s important that collaboration tools offer multifactor authentication -- and more important that IT mandate its use. A surprising number of enterprises, including government agencies, don’t bother.

It’s critical that your collaboration software offer an easy way to provision and deprovision users, Kennedy said. “You need to be able to onboard new employees quickly and to turn off access immediately when an employee leaves.”

Integration with tools such as Active Directory can help.

 

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