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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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4 Responses to “Is It Time to Change Your Collaboration Tools?”

  1. Hi David,

    I think tools which offer a minimum of functionality can be used more general and therefore will be much easier to be used. I think of collaboration tools used most often instead of collaboration tools which have thousands of business process specific functionality (which will not match the special needs of one company either).

    Just my 2 cents

  2. david m

    It’s important to be using a collaboration software that goes beyond just basic aspects of business management or communication…

    An application may have great collaborative potential but not cover WHAT can be collaborated on properly. WORKetc brings collaboration to a whole new level with it’s suite of features: it’s a combination of CRM, PM, Billing, and Support. Within this one app users are managing their entire small business, and collaborating on all of these aspects as well.

    All aspects work with one another to achieve an environment of efficiency and automation.

  3. Our product Glasnost21 could help you adopt collaboration, inside and out of the firewall, quite painlessly. Contact importing is simple, and you can easily start projects, and upload images. Over a relatively short time of many people doing ‘their bit’ the wealth of sharable data becomes meaningful.

    And it comes with a rather nice iPhone App.

    ‘Bringing people together, with the information they need, wherever’

    Please take a look and get in touch if we can help.

    Regards – and Happy New Year

    Antony Slumbers