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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


Be clear on the total cost of ownership (TCO)

Take a holistic look at the software’s TCO for your organization, said Bobby Beckmann, CTO of Lifesize. What the infrastructure is needed to support a new suite or set of tools? Does your network have the necessary bandwidth? What will IT and end-user troubleshooting likely cost? What will deployment cost, and will user training be required?

Knowing the TCO is critical but atypical, Beckmann said. In the Spiceworks/Lifesize survey of IT decision-makers, 56% said they didn’t know how much they were spending on subscriptions and licenses for conferencing and collaboration solutions. “And this [is] only one part of TCO,” he said.


Ensure interoperability and compatibility

Make sure the suite or tool set will play nice with other software systems deployed throughout your ecosystem, Beckmann said. “Trying to piecemeal multiple solutions that inevitably don’t interoperate fully” is a typical mistake, he said. And be sure the software is compatible with all devices that employees use, especially mobile ones.


Make a checklist of features

Ask users which features would help them be more productive, Kennedy said. Consider software tools that offer useful features others might not, such as time tracking, which can help you determine the actual cost of labor, contract workers and productivity.

And make sure the collaboration suite has a robust shared-calendar feature. “Being able to put project due dates, deadlines, vacation schedules and development milestones all in one place seems like an obvious feature, but a lot of suites don’t do a great job of it,” Kennedy said.


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