Business Tech

Migrating to team communication tools

As on-line team collaboration tools grow in capability and popularity, many organizations large and small can benefit from reexamining their workplace traditions and technology investments. The days of offices with seas of cubicles continue to give way to cloud-based online meetings, group chat, unified communications and increasing use of video communications. Adding a new tool to your user’s desktop without a plan is sure to cause havoc. You need a team collaboration adoption plan.

Having guided several organizations through the transition from the cubicle to the cloud, I’ve seen misfires and home runs alike. To make sure yours is a home run, I offer this 3-part roadmap of practical team collaboration adoption:

Start with the end in mind

As with any major transition, it’s critical to start with a stated set of goals and objectives. What do you want from the transition? More efficient communications? Less email? Enable the hiring of remote employees? Better record retention? Reduce operating costs? Ditch an aging PBX?

Jot down your objectives and set some priories. “By the end of the year, I’ll have my Sales team transitioned to unified communications, allowing better remote communications and management”.

Selecting a pilot project and milestones

Within those goals, choose a relatively small and finite goal for a moderate-size group that is achievable within a few months and is measurable. In one case, I used the process of preparing for a major industry trade show to introduce Microsoft Teams to a geographically dispersed events team. It gives focus to the team and the results should speak for themselves.

Selecting a pilot team

From my experience, the successful adoption of new technologies is almost always led by a small group of early adopters that can show early positive results. Your pilot team should be a tech-savvy group of 12 or less individuals that would get the most from team collaboration tools. You’ll be setting an example as part of the team too. Bring your early adopters into the planning process and share with them your goals and strategy for achieving those goals – you may get valuable suggestions or smoke out some early concerns.

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Choosing the tools

Sometimes the tools come with the people, where new employees bring experiences with them to the organization. In other cases, consumer web conferencing or social media usage “leaks” into the organization without the blessing or plan from the CIO. It’s better to move quickly and select a team communication tool before a variety of non-authorized tools spread through the organization and leave a trail of security and privacy issues.

Interoperability with existing productivity tools should be the top priority when making the selection. Look closely at the tools available with what you are already paying for – there may be collaboration tools available as part of your current subscriptions.

It’s time to execute

Now that you have your team, a near-term pilot project and selected your tools, it’s time to get started.

Start by preparing a virtual workspace for the selected project in your team collaboration environment. Based on the project and team needs, set up folders, keywords, topics or other spaces that will naturally draw users to best practices.

Be relentless with the team to use the tools and their capabilities. Encourage trying new features. Set an example yourself by using the tools to manage the process. Give incentives for “finding the edges”. Monitor and discourage “old ways”.

Measure progress along the way, tracking issues and workarounds that others will need outside of the pilot. Use the tools themselves to archive best practices and issues.

Move on to wider adoption

In the next part of the series, I’ll share some the next part of the roadmap, leveraging the success of your pilot and dealing with roadblocks.

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