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Team collaboration applications have become the new primary UI for employee engagement. Nearly 68% of companies have either already adopted team collaboration apps or will do so by the end of 2021, according to Metrigy's "Workplace Collaboration: 2021-22" research study of more than 475 global organizations. The pandemic-driven shift to remote work has accelerated deployments as IT and business leaders tap the ability of team apps to improve virtual collaboration.
Successfully implementing team collaboration apps within an organization requires addressing a variety of business and end-user needs. Here are five steps toward ensuring your deployment provides the greatest possible operational benefit.
1. Consider the business metrics
Metrigy's research showed that deploying team collaboration apps provides demonstrable business benefits, including the following:
- fewer meetings by replacing status calls with messaging-based updates;
- increased productivity by centralizing communications into contextual-based workspaces that are integrated with other apps and data;
- cost savings by improving operational efficiencies;
- reduction in email by eliminating difficult-to-follow and unlinked conversations related to a project, task or activity;
- increased revenue by enabling customer-facing individuals to quickly get answers they need to address opportunities.
Educating employees on how team collaboration apps can improve their specific workflows enables you to measure and report on improvements in areas such as software and product development, customer responsiveness and sales close rates.
2. Make team collaboration your work hub
Those with the highest ROI for their team collaboration investment focus on using team apps as a hub for work. This means integrating other apps into team spaces to enable workflow optimization. For example, project management tools can report project status updates into the appropriate channels, which can enable individuals to manage their individual tasks from within the team space. This reduces the need to switch applications, and conversations related to project activities can occur in a contextual channel.
Project management, meeting, file management and CRM are the apps most frequently integrated into team spaces, the study found. In addition, the arrival of low-code/no-code workflow management tools enables employees to create their own repeatable workflows within team spaces. For example, an HR employee can create a workflow to support an onboarding process that pulls in required information from an HR management app.
3. Expand team collaboration beyond company boundaries
Nearly half of organizations with the highest ROI for their team collaboration deployments are extending team spaces beyond company boundaries to enable partners, suppliers and even customers to participate in team spaces. This approach eliminates email for B2B and B2C communications and brings the benefits of contextual engagement to an even wider set of workflows. Today, most external engagement is through enabling guest access to required team spaces. But federation capabilities, either natively provided by team app vendors or from third-party vendors, are rapidly increasing.
4. Have a solid security and compliance strategy
For most organizations, a security strategy means enabling single sign-on, integrating team collaboration app management with a mobile device management platform, and implementing retention and compliance controls based on the operating environment. It also means following your chosen vendor's security announcements or patches if you run on premises or in a private cloud instance.
Additional requirements vary by organizational need but could include monitoring team channels for inappropriate content, digital rights management, end-to-end encryption and ensuring consistent policies across multiple team apps. Consider rapidly emerging compliance and security management platforms to centralize policy creation and enforcement across all team app instances.
5. Provide training and support
One of the main reasons team collaboration apps have taken off is because most people can figure out how to use them with little to no training. But that doesn't mean you can ignore the need to train and support your users. A minimum requirement is to train your employees to manage notifications to avoid interruptions. Another good approach is to set up support channels to enable employees to use each other as support resources or to ask questions of IT. In this new age of hybrid work, consider using team apps to support non-work-related social engagement by establishing channels for health and wellness, sports, gaming and so on.
Proactive team collaboration management may not guarantee success, but it will help avoid adoption failure. Set up proper metrics, make team collaboration the work hub, expand collaboration beyond company boundaries, address security, governance and compliance, and provide appropriate training and support. Then, you are more likely to see measurable business value from your team collaboration investment.