Communication and Collaboration

When choosing the tools your organization relies on, there are many issues to consider. But one is easy to overlook: communication. After all, your team probably has plenty of communication tools already at its disposal. But when you’ve been working on a project for a while, it can become obvious that a variety of communication tools can actually be a problem. If you need to go back and check on a series of communications that may have occurred via email, IM or something else, you may not know what tool you used. And if you need to get in touch with your team quickly, you may not be able to tell which method is the quickest or best way to manage it.

The Importance of Keeping Things Simple

Keeping your team using just one or two channels of communication makes collaborating significantly easier. A single tool may not be an option — different tools work particularly well for real-time communication, while others are better if you just need to shoot a reference message over — but having your team focus on a limited set of communication tools can reduce the chances of miscommunication. By knowing where they need to check for updates rather than having to search through a dozen different inboxes, your team will get information faster and can act upon it quicker.

The difficulty lies be in choosing which tools to use. After all, there are pros and cons to any communication medium you may consider. And in larger organizations, just trying out a bunch of different tools and seeing what sticks simply isn’t an option.

Looking at Integrated Tools

If you need project management tools for your team, a logical option is to focus on those tools that have integrated communications tools, such as a chat or messaging feature. At the very least, you won’t have to go searching for a secondary tool. There are other benefits, though: When your employees are only checking one tool regularly, they can become more efficient. Skipping around from one application to another means lost minutes, fumbling with passwords, transferring information between tools and other opportunities to lose productivity. Of course, there are ways to minimize such issues if you find a communication tool that is truly ideal for your team that’s not integrated with the rest of your collaboration tools, but, when in doubt, integration offers an easy solution.

It may be worth adding an internal policy about which communication tools to rely on: if your team uses an integrated tool, it may be necessary to ask them to use that tool for all team communications, no matter what they rely on to communicate externally. Such a policy can help ensure that all communications are recorded and easy to reference in the future.

Photo by Flickr user Jeff Keyzer, licensed under CC 2.0


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