This content is part of the Essential Guide: How best to put collaboration tools to work for your team

How to assess team collaboration platforms pre- and post-deployment

Testing predeployment and monitoring post-deployment are two factors that influence collaboration success. Learn how to prepare for and monitor team collaboration platforms.

Collaboration is a key ingredient for business success, and many organizations are adopting team collaboration platforms to support workflows. But deploying what sounds best on paper won't always guarantee success. To achieve collaboration success, IT decision-makers need to carefully assess available options, determine which tools best fit team workflows and monitor everything from user adoption to changes in revenue, spending and project completion times.

How can IT leaders determine if a team collaboration platform is the right fit?

When choosing a team collaboration platform, features and capabilities that sound good initially may not translate to a good fit in reality. Instead of starting with a full-scale deployment of a new collaboration platform, companies should first deploy a smaller prototype. A small working prototype is a good way to provide a hands-on learning tool for an eventual full-scale collaboration platform deployment.

A prototype gives users a chance to become comfortable with a new platform, while also giving IT the opportunity to work out any bumps before moving on to full deployment. The prototype deployment should include a handful of users for testing. Once the company is ready to move to a full-scale deployment, the prototype should be discarded. Rather than building on top of the existing prototype, IT should take what was learned and build the official platform from scratch.

What is the best way to ensure end-user adoption?

End-user adoption is critical to the success of a collaboration deployment. IT should focus on three areas to get user buy-in on new collaboration platforms. First, IT decision-makers should choose tools that provide better UX than the tools currently in use. Without better UX, users are unlikely to change their current workflows for new tools.

Second, IT should focus on bringing traditionally stand-alone tools together to create a more unified and integrated experience. Users likely have habits related to legacy tools that don't lend themselves to a collaborative atmosphere. Moving all working tools into a more unified environment provides a new way to work, which encourages changing habits that better suit a new communication and collaboration environment.

Lastly, IT leaders should consider the business case for keeping some legacy applications. Some jobs may not need unified communications to be effective. For those roles, legacy tools many be a better fit than new collaboration platforms.

How do you measure the success of collaboration deployments?

Determining the success of a collaboration deployment can be confusing, as many of the factors collaboration deployments target are difficult to quantify, such as how much collaboration is taking place and how effective collaboration sessions are. Three areas to look to determine if collaboration is successful are an increase in revenue resulting from the deployment, a decrease in spending and more efficiency in business processes. Simply put: Evaluate time and money.

Compare revenue and spending before and after a deployment to determine what, if any, improvements have occurred as a result of rolling out a team collaboration platform. Determining efficiency gains is less concrete, as time saved may not actually indicate improved efficiency. Even if meeting times are shorter, it's difficult to quantify the work that could be done in the time saved. To evaluate efficiency, organizations should look at the overall length of time it takes to complete a project and compare that to project completion times before the team collaboration platform deployment.

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