Integrating Collaboration Tools into the Small Business Strategy

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air! As IT experts who work with small businesses and nonprofits alike we can’t help but fall in love with the growing selection of collaboration tools.

These cloud-based services allow organizations’ employees and volunteers to work together from anywhere. As we discussed in a post last year, these tools are game changers given the increasing popularity of remote and contract workers among employees and employers alike.

But there is more to facilitating communication amongst team members than simply signing up for a collaboration tool. Enterprises only truly begin to stand apart when they take the time to put together a communication plan. Only at this point will they position themselves to make the most of the powerful tools available.

We gathered a few tips from our experts to guide you as you put together such a plan:

    Develop a concrete strategy:
    Create a set process that clearly defines objectives both how the organization will communicate information to its employees and how it expects employees to communicate with one another. Make sure to answer: who needs to know what information? When should this information be communicated? How will it be best disseminated? Having a defined process and clear picture of the resources available to employees will ensure everyone is on the same page.

    Make it role-based and goal-based
    Different teams have different make-ups in terms of technological know-how and communication needs based on the role they play in the business and their goals. Consider deploying several different tools – or identifying which tool provides the different capabilities you will need – in order to provide teams with options as to the best fit for them. This is a fine line as too many options can become overwhelming! Soliciting employee feedback beforehand will enable your leadership team to select your enterprise’s tools thoughtfully and avoid unnecessary investments.

    Think about the customer
    Harnessing collaboration tools is a great way to engage with your internal “customer base” – your employees – and your external customer base. When developing your communication strategy and considering collaboration tools for investment, consider both how your employees need to interface with each other and how they – in an ideal world – would interface with your end customers!

We know all too well how busy small business owners are. It can be hard to justify the upfront time to put such a plan in place. But the increase in productivity and improved customer communication that come from such a strategy will provide a lasting return on this investment and serve as a competitive advantage for your enterprise for years to come.