The Hidden Problems of Too Many Collaboration Tools
Buying a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem
Users often ask for new collaboration tools out of impatience and frustration with their current option. But sometimes, the real issue would be solved by spending a little more time learning about the tool they already have. One way to deal with this is to spend time doing root-cause analysis with users when they criticize the collaboration tools available to them. You can discover if the most strident complaints are about capabilities you actually offer users, and determine if they aren’t working, aren’t accessible, or just aren’t sufficiently clear. You can also discover ways to refine training processes so everyone is more confident using the tools they have on hand.
Diluting Your Vendor Relationships
Apart from the top-line cost of adding more software or cloud solutions, each new collaboration tool brings with it some amount of training, integration, and maintenance expenses. But there’s a deeper and potentially more potent opportunity cost as well. When you spread your collaboration tools across a wide range of vendors, you miss the chance to establish a deep relationship with a provider that can invest time and energy understanding your business. This could mean missing out on what a true partnership delivers – personal communications about feature usage or new releases, exclusive beta or pilot programs, and complimentary services like training or implementation.
Overloading Mobile Devices
A typical collaboration application can be well over 100MB in size. That doesn’t sound like much on a traditional computer, but many employees are now using their mobile apps just as often as their computers for getting work done. So given that a wide variety of today’s smartphones have 32G or less of storage, filling your employees phones with collaborations tools could mean they might spend more time trying to deal with “storage low” alerts than actually working within the tools themselves.
Eroding User Trust
Ignoring Your Real Collaboration Challenges
Maybe your collaboration problems don’t lie within the tool – but within the communication style itself. Adding more tools may be a costly way of ignoring deeper problems with your training, culture, or workplace compatibility. A Harvard Business Review article points out that cumbersome management layers, poor feedback practices, and organizational complexity all have fixes that require attention, but don’t require software. Get together with your human resources department, talk, and ask hard questions about what people need in order to better work together.