Are there too many collaboration tools?

Here, we will be discussing if there are indeed too many collaboration tools. We will also be going over reasons why too many tools are a problem and how to handle such a situation. How collaboration tools can be used successfully for team-effectiveness will also be explained in this post. As collaboration itself has been making waves across organizations in the past 20 years, collaboration tools are increasingly finding their importance, especially in a post-pandemic world.

Are there too many collaboration tools?

Yes, there are actually many collaboration tools. An organization looking for a collaboration tool to help their team-members might find the information overwhelming. In this study, it was found that many workplaces fall prey to using several tools and find themselves stressed because of it. But, since there are many collaboration tools, it also opens up many options for organizations.

Why does using too many collab tools pose a problem?

There are too many collaboration tools which suit many different needs. Today, workplaces use several tools in the same organization, burdening and stressing their workers. The reasons why too many collab tools cause problems are listed below:

  • ·   It leads to wasteful spending

Not all collaboration tools are free of cost. Many of them require the software to be purchased permanently or ask for a subscription fee. If the organization chooses to use several tools instead of one, the cost is going to be multiplied. It makes sense if the tools are constructive to productivity, thus ensuring an organization’s economic growth. But if the tools are not going to be used efficiently, the money spent on them turns out to be wasted.

  • ·   Many tools can share the same functions

Many collaboration tools tend to share similar functions, apart from their unique points that set them apart. It can be commonly favored for functions such as instant messaging, voice-call, video-conferencing, file-sharing, etc. Workers become confused as to what tool to use for what. If there are no clear policies regulating the same, it becomes an even bigger conundrum.

  • ·   The collaboration becomes chaotic

Collaboration within a team or with other teams should be something employees love and are happy to do. If the said activity causes stress, it leads to a decreased productivity that diminishes the original aim of collaboration. When there are too many tools, it leads to a chaotic type of collaboration that additionally stresses out employees. It also causes distractions and reduced efficiency of task management.

  • ·   Access to information is difficult

Collaboration tools offer employees quick access to needed information. However, when there are many tools, employees might be wasting additional time in just searching for certain files. This valuable time can be used for a more important task by the employee. This leads to friction and redundancy in the workplace in addition to placing a strain on the existing team-cohesion.

Handling too many collaborating tools

Many organizations find themselves in this pickle. They have introduced several collaborating tools which have caused a strain and are hampering efficiency and productivity. If a certain company has found themselves stuck in this jam, a few things they can do to handle it are:

  • ·   Decreasing number of tools with similar functions

Collaboration tools share many functions that are mostly similar in nature. A good example is text messaging. Almost all collab tools have such a feature. Decreasing the number of tools that share duplicate functions can help declutter the situation.

Another way would be to implement a policy that allows the usage of only certain features on a certain application. But this can also lead to confusion and distraction, ultimately hindering work and productivity.

  • ·   Determine if there are indeed too many tools

A great way to do this would be an audit for the same. Asking your employees and observing if the tools are hampering work rather than improving it can be a great way to understand the problem. If your employees are working in confusion on their part about the collaboration tools, it is probably a good time to strategize your plan.

  • ·   Choosing the right collaboration tool

Since collaboration is an utmost necessity, especially today where remote-working is the norm, choosing the right way to collaborate is very important. Whether it is for socializing, messaging, voice-calling or video-calling, select the right collaboration tool for your organization.

An important factor to remember while choosing a tool is integration. Integration ensures that information is quickly accessible while also improving communication, thus ensuring a flatter structure in the organization.

Choosing the right collaboration tool for your team

When organizations think about implementing a collaboration tool for their teams, they are usually intimidated with the huge number and variety that is available in the market. It becomes important that they choose the right tool from the start. This not only saves time spent on induction and training but also will prevent too many collab tools entering the workplace. Some important points that companies have to consider while choosing a collaboration tool are:

  • ·   The ease of use

Collaboration tools should be user-friendly and the information should be succinct. This not only improves the comfort level of the user, but also ensures the tool will be used regularly and properly. An effective collaboration tool should have simple navigation methodologies with a comfortable and user-friendly interface.

  • ·   Many features in one tool

A good collab app should not only be easy to use but should also have many features workers can use. There are many tools that are of good quality but only offer one service. This might allow the tool to be used efficiently but it also creates a risk of bringing too many tools, all serving a different reason. An ideal tool should be versatile so that employees can use it in various manners for workplace collaboration.

  • ·   Security and privacy features

Since much information is privy to the outside world, security and privacy features are important in collaboration tools. Many tools have different sets of features and options that organizations can choose as per their need. It is not only the security but also privacy among teams that are working on important topics. An effective collaboration tool should be able to offer security and privacy settings that are stable but flexible at the same time.

Successfully implementing collaboration tools

Now that we have understood the important features an effective collaboration tool should have, we shall be discussing the implementation of such a tool. Introducing a new collaboration tool or any piece of technology is like introducing a new member to the workforce. It takes time and effort, with a lot of patience for it to become a successful part of the team.

There are four important steps while implementing a collaboration tool in the organization:

  • ·   Assessment of requirements

Before we choose the right collaboration tool, it is essential that we do a thorough assessment of the needs and requirements of the team. The goals, both short-term and long-term have to be considered, along with the team vision and values. In addition, we also have to take in the remote-working factor. The needs of a remote-only company will be different from that of an on-site working company.

The collaboration needs of the company can be assessed by looking at the past histories of the organizations. The various projects completed by various teams can be examined with importance given to collaborative issues. It is not only important to look at the methods that have been used in the past, but also the problems and challenges that were being faced. A little research into the company’s history can be a great trove of information while choosing the right collaboration tool.

  • ·   Selection of the tool

Once the assessment has been done and the requirements of the team have been noted, it is time to select the right tool for the team. Since a collaboration tool is supposed to improve interaction and team-cohesion, getting the perspective of every member becomes important. Choosing the tool should not be an individual decision but one that is made by the whole team.

When all the team members are present in the decision-making process, it also ensures that the tool will be used effectively. The members will be more open to this new change and also be ready to use it in their daily tasks. Employees should not take the decision lightly as the tool is supposed to be reducing their workload as well as be flexible for their customizations.

  • ·   Knowing how to use the tool

Though most tools come with their own demos and instruction manuals, confusion can occur in the initial stages of using it. This can be more common for those employees who are not as tech-savvy. But the whole point of the tool should be to reduce your workload and burden and not necessarily increase it.

While introducing and getting to know the tool, try not to release or give access to all the features at once. Instead release it in a gradual manner. This ensures that the whole team is on the same page all the time with no one sprinting too far ahead or lagging way too behind. A good way to ensure better learning is to ask the team member to learn and explain the tool themselves.

  • ·   Using the tool for your projects

Collaboration tools also play an important role for task and project management. Infact, this is a salient feature of many collab tools in the market. The collaboration tool being used should be customized and adjusted with your ongoing projects. It should also be adjusted accordingly with your future projects.

In this step, regular communication and feedback is important. If your team-members are not finding the tool to be in line with their current project, they won’t be using it and thus the tool becomes a wasted resource. However, they also need to be constantly encouraged to use the tool with the leader leading by example.

Conclusion

In this post, we discussed if there are too many collaboration tools. We also went over reasons why too many tools are a problem and how to handle such a situation. How collaboration tools can be used successfully for team-effectiveness were also explained in this post.

Frequently asked questions:

Why do collaboration tools fail?

Many collaboration tools fail as they are forced rather than introduced smoothly to the employees. When a collaboration tool is forced, it can be perceived as a threat rather than a resource to reduce workload.

Are collaboration tools safe?

If your collaboration tool has a strong security solution that is reliable, it can be quite safe. Look for those tools which have highly recommended security and privacy features.

Is online collaboration effective?

Online collaboration improves communication optimally and effective among team-members and thus, is quite effective. Via instant messaging, video-calling, video-conferencing and project management, online collaboration tools provide an effective platform for team-members to interact.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below

Citations

https://www.cdw.com/content/cdw/en/articles/digitalworkspace/why-too-many-collaboration-tools-can-hurt-your-efficiency.html
https://www.goto.com/blog/the-hidden-problems-of-too-many-collaboration-tools#
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enterprise-collaboration-hairball-jonathan-cifuentes/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/08/18/avoid-drowning-in-online-workplace-collaboration/
https://www.exoplatform.com/blog/2017/05/10/3-steps-to-handle-too-many-collaboration-tools/
https://www.fastcompany.com/90598890/how-communication-tools-can-fuel-burnout-and-what-to-do-about-it
https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/team-collaboration-tools-benefits-pitfalls-6183
https://snacknation.com/blog/online-collaboration-tools/

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