Chintan Jain is the head of marketing at Kissflow. He oversees all marketing functions for the B2B product platform.
75 percent of employees rate collaboration and teamwork as very important and 86 percent of them believe that lack of collaboration is the reason behind most workplace failures. Organizations that collaborate and communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to retain their best talent
There is no doubt that collaboration is important to organizations, but achieving effective collaboration starts with picking out the right tool. For any organization, the ideal team collaboration tool can transform communication and boost the bottom line.
But if you are just starting to evaluate team collaboration tools, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the sea of options available.
Here are the most important features that an ideal team collaboration tool should have:
1. Cloud Storage
To collaborate effectively, you need a central cloud storage space which is accessible by the whole team so they can share work-related data and documents. It will serve as the go-to location for employees to reliably access updated versions of any file and collaborate with their team members effectively.
Cloud-based storage also makes it easier for remote teams to share documents, coordinate with the rest of the team members, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
A good collaboration tool can track multiple versions of the file and allow you to check and retrieve past versions in the case of any eventuality.
2. Support For Both Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication
When employees collaborate in real-time through phone calls, video calls, or instant messages, it is called synchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication happens when employees send a message without expecting an immediate response from their coworkers.
Both synchronous and asynchronous communication is important for teams to collaborate effectively. While asynchronous communication is preferred for day to day work conversations, synchronous communication is mainly used for routine team meetings or urgent discussions with team members.
The ideal collaboration tool should support both synchronous and asynchronous communication in order to streamline team conversions. It should have instant messaging, dedicated communication channels, and even video calling features so you don’t need an extra tool just to talk to your colleagues.
Cross-functional team collaboration happens when employees from different teams, departments, and verticals of a company come together to collaborate on a common goal or project. It creates a culture of continuous improvement, teamwork, and communication across the organization.
The collaboration tool you pick shouldn’t create silos where teams or departments within the company don’t have any knowledge about what their counterparts are working on.
Instead, it should help employees from different teams and departments communicate effectively in order to boost cross-functional team collaboration.
4. Access and Permission Control
An ideal collaboration tool should give you all the permission control options you need to minimize unauthorized access to important business data. While maintaining transparency is important in an organization, security is paramount.
For instance, you may not want important discussions between different department heads to be visible to employees, the company leadership might want to have confidential meetings with the HR department about future pay cuts, or a team may be working on a small secret project that they are not ready to disclose yet.
The collaboration tool should give you access and permission control so that you can make each communication channel as transparent or as private as you want.
5. Intuitive Interface
When introducing a new tool or technology in the organization, you want to remove as many barriers as you can for maximum user adoption in order to get a good return on investment. But employees can often resist new tools because of its lack of user-friendliness, their discomfort to change, or just their inability to see the value of the new tool.
The ideal team collaboration tool should be effective enough to eliminate any initial resistance by offering immediate and clear value to the end-users, the employees. It should have a modern, clean, and intuitive interface that makes it easy for new users to start using the tool with a minimum learning curve.
6. Third-Party Integration
The team collaboration tool should complement, not disrupt the existing IT infrastructure of your organization. It should integrate seamlessly with all the existing applications without making it difficult for employees to toggle between applications.
When reviewing collaboration tools, you should check whether the integration is possible through a direct API connection which will only take a few clicks or a backend developer that will need the IT team’s assistance. It’s also important to note how well the third-party applications get integrated with the collaboration tool and if it even helps the employees.
If your organization is constantly growing, you will need a collaboration tool that can scale.
The tool might be good enough for a small company of 100 employees but if you have a vision of growing your company multifold, then you need a tool that can seamlessly support 1000 employees just as easily as it supports 100 employees.
After all, switching a collaboration tool after a year or two just because it can’t fit your growing needs will only lead to more costs and work disruptions.
Find a Collaboration Tool That Works For Your Organization
While these are just the main features an ideal collaboration tool should have, the tool that you choose should work for your organization and align with all your specific needs and challenges.
Selecting a separate collaboration tool means employees would have to constantly toggle between their other work applications just to talk to their coworkers. When you manage projects and tasks through a separate tool, it can also become difficult to give context about your queries.
Instead, you can use a single tool like a digital workplace platform which ensures that collaboration is not separated from the actual work. When you manage all your collaboration, communication, projects, tasks, and processes through the same platform, it is easier to have contextual conversations about work in a more streamlined manner, which directly boosts collaboration in the organization.