Is It Time to Change Your Collaboration Tools?

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You can see it coming: a time when you’re going to have to change the collaboration tools your team uses for something bigger and more robust. But when is the best time to make the changeover? When can you minimize the time you spend transitioning, so your team gets the most work done during the process?

There’s no one best time for every organization, of course. Everyone has a busy time, and you’ll have other needs that make the choice subjective. But there are steps you can take to minimize problems.

Stagger the Adoption — Or Maybe Not

It’s always tempting to add a new tool gradually, perhaps switching all new projects¬† to it, then adding existing projects. The biggest benefit is that you never have to stop working; your projects will always be in some system somewhere.

But there are potential issues with such an approach. It usually takes significantly longer to make the switch, and it’s easy for tasks to get lost as your team tries to figure out where the information should be. Unless the size of the organization means that you can’t make the switch fast and painless (for example, if you have to keep some sort of access available at all times), it’s usually better to make the switch all at once.

Find a Slow Time

In an ideal world, you could move all of your data and projects from one system to the next in one night, while your team is asleep and not needing to work. In the real world, you may be dealing with team members working in different time zones, or with tools that don’t provide for easy exporting and importing. That can mean that the switch will take more time.

In such a situation, you’ll want to look for a slow time: a long weekend, or a few weeks when, historically, you don’t get much new work. If you’ve got a good estimate of how long the changeover will take, you can likely block out the time needed to get it done. You may ask your team not to synchronize their work during that time, or you might find a few days when everyone will be off work. The key is to get things done in a fashion that doesn’t drive you crazy.

Start Planning Early

Even if you think the time for moving to a new collaboration tool is a long way off, it’s worth planning as early as possible. Perhaps you don’t see the need to shift within the next year — but wouldn’t next year’s holidays present a perfect opportunity to do the conversion, while everyone’s off celebrating?

How do you plan for changing collaboration tools?

Image courtesy Flickr user Robbert van der Steeg

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