Collaboration platforms and software evolve according to employees' working habits. Vendors make the technology more customizable and easy to integrate with existing business applications and email, decreasing the number of unconnected platforms users rely on for team collaboration and communication. These all-inclusive project management and communication platforms may someday make a compelling case for abandoning a longtime business staple -- email.
Employees at Screenpush, a Los Angeles-based interactive marketing firm with 17 employees and branch offices in Dallas, New York and France, were frustrated by having to toggle back and forth from project management tools and email for team collaboration and communication across the company's disparate offices. The company chose Glip Inc., a cloud collaboration startup, to help reach its aggressive, "no more internal email" goal for 2014.
Team collaboration platform addresses organizational challenges
Screenpush builds website and marketing applications and manages small marketing campaigns for its clients -- which range from those in the fashion and sports industry to beverage makers and technology companies. The marketing firm needed a platform for content delivery, as well as monitoring and managing external projects and clients, while also facilitating internal communication, said Joshua Otten, CEO and managing partner of operations and strategy for Screenpush.
"Our biggest problem was retention. We were using a bunch of different project management tools cobbled together -- like Basecamp and Podio -- but they weren't very user-friendly and were too project- or task- based," he said.
Screenpush was still relying on email in addition to their project management platforms. Otten and his employees wanted a team collaboration tool that prioritized communication in addition to organizing files and content.
"We still found ourselves using instant messenger and email to chat, and dealing with many different systems became very overwhelming," he said.
Screenpush made the switch to Glip's Web-based conversation platform after completing a 60-day trial. "It's almost like a Yammer instant messenger plus task management," he said.
More on team collaboration
How project managers can facilitate team collaboration
Are enterprise collaboration tools hindering collaboration?
Group collaboration for large and small projects
Otten and his employees were receiving between 500 and 600 emails a day, a combination of client messages and internal communications -- not to mention spam -- prior to implementing Glip. The conversation platform has helped Screenpush slash the number of daily emails by eliminating the need to exchange emails internally. "It's been our goal to stop using email altogether for internal communications, and we've made it a priority for the New Year," Otten said.
Glip's Web-based conversation platform organizes workflow and content around conversations -- which can be separated into groups of users or by departments. The platform allows users to drag and drop files and also links to outside applications -- such as calendars, said Patrick Carmitchel, product evangelist for Glip. Employees can communicate and share data related to a client from one system without using a third party -- like Dropbox -- to share content. All chats, files and assets are easily accessible and searchable within the Conversation Platform, Carmitchel said.
Screenpush employees have also begun using Glip's mobile app, Otten said. "Every employee is on Glip -- from the front desk [employee] to the graphic designers. It's been adopted very easily."
The subscription-based pricing model per user appealed to the growing marketing firm because it can add employees to the system quickly. "New employees can get right onto Glip, and they understand it really well because it's really intuitive," Otten said.
Expanding team collaboration outside of the business
After achieving better internal communication and team collaboration, Otten and his team began introducing its clients to Glip. Each client has its own group of external-facing Screenpush employees dedicated to working on their projects. Otten and his teams can invite external users -- their clients -- to the Glip platform, free of charge to both Screenpush and the client, he said. Once Screenpush gives a client access to the conversation platform, the client can post requests on Glip to every Screenpush team member working on their account.
The no-more-email objective isn't just a goal for internal email use. Otten and his company are working to encourage their clients to take advantage of the organizational benefits that the Glip platform has to offer, he said. Glip allows users to see if external clients are logged in to the platform so Screenpush employees will know whether the client has ever logged in or still might be using email to communicate with their marketing team. "About 40% of our clients immediately start to use it, and then prefer not to send emails, so that's been really helpful," Otten said. "We don't want to waste time managing the process instead of getting the work done."
Clients are also saving time and becoming efficient by working with Screenpush on Glip, Otten said. "Clients don't have to wait for me or any other employee to forward their email along to the right person to get the work done," Otten said. "They can post a request, which is seen by their whole team immediately."
While the marketing firm has been successful in getting off of siloed email platforms for its own communications, Screenpush can't force its customers to use Glip exclusively. However, adoption of the conversation platform is picking up quickly for external communications, Otten said. "Email by itself doesn't provide a functional workflow -- for us, it's about trading content assets and adding tasks to make sure projects are getting done."