by Hannah West | March 26, 2018
Collaboration tools can help organizations overcome innumerable obstacles, from geographic distance to scattered communication that decreases productivity. A business can't succeed when its departments and team members are trying to accomplish their separate objectives without seeing where they fit into the company's overall strategy. 

This is where collaboration tools come in. These solutions can increase productivity, save money, promote transparency and accountability, and improve company culture. But they must be implemented well, and the features must be fully utilized for companies to see these benefits. Here are a few tips for putting your collaboration tools to work in a way that improves your business for leaders, employees, and clients: 

Narrow Your Focus

There are many collaboration tool options that emphasize different capabilities. You have video conferencing tools like HipChat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. You have project management tools like Trello and Basecamp. There are also file-sharing and management tools such as DropBox and Google Drive, and Slack -- the group messaging app that integrates with both of these. 

Due to the variety within this genre of products, it's important to know why you want the software beyond "to improve communication" or "increase productivity." Is your primary goal to connect remote team members? To use webinars for employee training? Maybe your employees communicate primarily via scattered, countless email chains and no one is on the same page -- so you need to centralize discussions. 

Set material and attainable goals. Once you've narrowed your focus and decided which software category will best bridge your company's teamwork gaps, use real reviews of collaboration tools to see how users have implemented those products within their organizations. 

Get Everyone on Board 

Even though collaboration tools can make everything clearer, easier, and more organized, the actual act of implementation has the potential to cause stress and confusion if not executed properly. One way to avoid this is to dip your toes in the water with a pilot implementation. Have a certain department or team test out the software. Keep the communication lines open and give them the freedom to share candid feedback. Then, when you get ready to roll out the changes across a large department or the entire organization, you'll know where the difficulties lie -- plus, you'll have experts ready to train others who have questions. 

Most collaboration tools provide either "freemium" versions or free 30-day trials. If you're nervous about implementation, you don't have to make any decisions that bring you to the point of no return. It's okay to experiment and see what works. While you may feel anxious and ready to move your team over to the new software and improve communication right away, choosing the wrong tool won't ultimately aid collaborative efforts. 

Prioritize Employee Satisfaction 

It's tempting to focus on how increased productivity will boost revenue or cut costs. But one of the major advantages of collaboration tools is that they can improve company cultures by giving employees clearer perspectives on their roles and the expectations placed on them. Communication tools specifically allow people to tailor work to their schedules by working from home. Project management tools notify users about upcoming deadlines so fewer things slip under the radar and cause last-minute stress. Better training tools lead to more qualified and adept employees, who will ultimately have more job satisfaction. 

If you're not seeing the implementation of a collaboration tool as a chance to increase employee contentment and make things better for everyone, this is a chance to broaden your perspective and make the best selection. 

Hannah West writes about the newest technology tools and trends.