This content is part of the Essential Guide: Reaping the business benefits of collaboration tools

How should enterprises deploy group collaboration software?

Multiple communication platforms will make collaboration management difficult for IT. Overall efficiency will be reduced with too many different apps in one enterprise.

When considering different group collaboration software in an enterprise, the cons largely outweigh the pros. By nature, team collaboration is about working toward a shared goal, but that can be difficult with competing needs. In cases where collaboration efforts occur almost entirely within a department or line of business, it's understandable why users might seek out their own group collaboration software.

However, many collaboration scenarios will be horizontal and span many departments, business units or branch offices. Multiple software deployments are not nearly as effective as a centralized collaboration platform that supports the entire organization.

Every enterprise needs to manage that balance, and when considering the use of group collaboration software, the strongest rationale would be that each team gets exactly what it wants. That's understandable if IT provides only a one-size-fits-all collaboration platform, but doesn't provide the right applications and isn't flexible enough for customized needs.

Another benefit to allowing teams to deploy their own software is IT's job becomes easier by leaving it up to each team to chart its own course for collaboration. However, this would only occur when IT is unwilling or unable to take ownership for collaboration.

Many disadvantages exist with multiple group collaboration software deployments -- not just from an IT perspective, but also in terms of overall operational efficiency for the enterprise. First and foremost, a free-for-all approach reinforces a silo mentality that doesn't promote sharing across the organization. Given that collaboration requires frequent communication, it becomes difficult when workers aren't using standardized applications or interfaces. Team members also lack a consistent user experience.

Finally, you should also consider how groups select their own group collaboration software, as it will be more costly for the organization and make it more challenging for IT to integrate with other platforms, maintain security and meet compliance requirements.

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