How to choose collaboration tools that fit your organization’s needs

Debby Kappetijn

Debby Kappetijn

May 30, 2017 8:00:00 AM

We all know the story about the Dutch Police that bought 3 million worth of software licenses that have never been used. It’s probably the worst nightmare of every software purchaser. However, to prevent this kind of horror scenarios, it takes more than careful administration. In fact, the real challenge is making the step from software purchase to actual usage. How do you convince your employees to start using your software? When it comes to collaboration and UC tools, your organization and staff will benefit the most when the tool is well integrated into daily work-life. To achieve this, you have to look beyond core technology and focus on the user. In this blog, we will explain the first step in achieving tool usage: choosing and selecting a collaboration solution that fits the needs of the business and its users.

Real value added tools

You’re probably familiar with this situation: you are at the store and your eyes fall on this product that seems very helpful, so you decide to buy it. A year later it lies unopened in a dusty corner and you’re thinking to yourself: what was I thinking? It seemed such a handy gizmo, but in the end, you didn’t need it, so you didn’t use it.

This everyday situation also applies to buying a collaboration or UC tool. When the solution doesn’t match with the intended users’ needs, they won’t use it. That’s why you have to make sure that the tool adds value to daily work life. The tool should make things easier, faster, better, more fun, giving employees a substantial reason to start using the tool! The ultimate goal is for a collaboration solution to add so much value to daily work-life that people just cannot go around it. But to achieve this, you first need to find out what needs you need to fulfill.


Understanding business’ needs

First of all, you need to understand what drives your organization to buy a new collaboration tool. Maybe there are new product lines, downsizing needs, international expansions or the need to decrease the time-to-market. Strategic goals or problems always drive the need for better collaboration and a tool to support that. Whatever it is, it will inevitably influence the requirements of your tool. The two important organizational factors you need to research are:

  • The current way of working together: What do the operation units look like and how do people work together in various processes? Identify which departments and individuals work together and analyze how they do that.
  • Current technology: What tools are in place, are they being used and if so, how? Do not limit your view to tools that are officially licensed by your company. You will see that once the available technology does not suffice, people will deviate to a mix of alternative tools that fulfill their needs.

Understanding users’ needs

The needs of the user should be the main focus point in choosing a collaboration tool that will actually be used. By involving the end user in an early stage of tool selection and implementation, their voice is acknowledged throughout the project. This will positively contribute to tool ownership and engagement. Follow the steps below to get insight into your users’ needs and involve them in the selection process:

  • Define user groups;
  • Identify collaboration needs and requirements per user group;
  • Describe promising applications and processes that a tool could support and improve;
  • Develop use cases to define areas of difficulty and corresponding solutions;
  • Identify blockers and drivers for implementation of the tool;
  • Involve users in the pilot or testing phase.


Start digging!

In this blog, we explained how to research the needs of your organization and the intended users. This research is a great starting point for selecting a collaboration or UC tool that matches those needs. With this in mind, you can choose a solution that supports and improves daily business, giving it an excellent chance to be successfully embraced within the organization.

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