Human Resources, Small Business & Startups, and Technology

How can your business be more collaborative in 2016?

December 31, 2015
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The beginning of the year is often a time of reflection and planning for the year ahead.

Whether your business employs two people or 200 and has one office or 10, employee collaboration will continue to be integral to business success in 2016. Though small business owners are notoriously busy, taking the time to investigate how your business can be more collaborative this coming year is incredibly important.

There are a variety of powerful collaboration tools on the market. So many, in fact, that finding the perfect one for your team can seem overwhelming. Though many have similar functionalities, no two are exactly the same. When deciding which tools work best for your business it is important to take a few things into consideration:

1. What do your employees actually need?

Talk to your team members and listen to what tools they think might be helpful. Do they want a project management tool? Something to help them review designs? Or a tool that will help them reduce email? Once you identify your business’ needs, you can narrow your search to tools that fulfill that function.

2. Is the tool easy to use?

Collaboration tools are only useful if team members actually understand and use them. The goal of any collaboration tool is to make your employees’ lives easier, not harder. Though it may take some time to get used to using a new tool, its interface should be simple and intuitive.

3. Is it secure?

It is incredibly important to research the security of each collaboration tool. Research what sort of cyber security each provider offers, along with data recovery options.

4. How many people will be using the tool?

Most software is priced based on the amount of people who will be using it. Though your primary focus should be to find a tool that is functional, price is also an important consideration.

Still not quite sure where to start? Here are a few emerging collaboration tools to try in 2016.

Slack: Some days there’s nothing more overwhelming than an overflowing email inbox. Enter Slack, a team communication tool designed to help de-clutter your inbox. This instant messaging-style software helps you organize your team conversations into channels, where everyone can discuss the topic in an open forum. Slack also has private channels and direct messaging options allowing you to communicate with only a few members of your team. However, I think the most exciting feature about Slack is the capability to drag, drop, and share files right within your Slack conversations. The images, PDFs, documents and spreadsheets uploaded are completely searchable. Slack easily integrates with dozens of apps you may already be using like Dropbox, Google Hangouts, Twitter, Facebook, and GoToMeeting. Learn more about Slack in this quick video.

Trello: Trello is a popular project management tool for anyone who appreciates visual organization. Trello helps team members collaborate on projects and easily identify who is responsible for what. Trello boards represent projects, and each project is broken down into lists that manage workflow. Each list includes cards for each specific task. The visual layout makes it easy to see where the project is at and what tasks still need to be completed.

InVision: InVision is a powerful design prototyping tool. Instead of sending out a design draft, collecting feedback via email, and then making edits, InVision allows multiple people to review and leave feedback on designs in one spot. InVision also works as a design project management tool with features that allow team members to view a specific project’s progress and workflow. Designers can also store all of their project assets in one place, from fonts to color palettes. One of the most valuable features about this product is that a team can send designs to clients for review without the client having to jump through a ton of hoops (or create an InVision account). The client can view the project and give feedback without worrying about creating another login.

Podio: Looking for project management software that does a little bit of everything? Podio might be your solution. Podio is most often used for project management, CRM, or as a social intranet. However, with Podio employees can download apps that aid their specific job function. Additional uses for Podio include product planning and development, workflow management, event management, team collaboration management and email management. Podio also offers file sharing, unlimited storage, and integration with other apps like Dropbox, Google Drive and Box. Podio’s mobile app keeps you connected with your projects wherever you go with a live activity stream, notifications, and access to all of your documents and images.

Taking the time to research and test out team collaboration software doesn’t have to be overwhelming. These tools, combined with your talented team, can make 2016 one of your business’ best years yet! 

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