Moving Beyond Email for Collaboration

BrandPost By Smartsheet
Sep 21, 2017
Cloud Computing

Here are the telltale signs that it’s time to look for a new work management solution.

Employees and executives often struggle to cope with an abundance of tools meant to facilitate better collaboration and online work management. Even with multiple tools in place, nothing seems to be in the right place and the tools (e.g., email, online chat, file sharing) don’t always work well together. As a result, many employees give up and default to the tool they are most familiar with: email.

“Email will never go away, but we need to look at how we can give people better choices for working together,” says Robin Sherwood, director of product management for Smartsheet. “Until they have access to better tools, employees won’t switch from email because people cling to the familiar.”

Additionally, the chaos created by too many collaboration tools imposes a tax on productivity. Bringing order to this chaos is possible by looking to the cloud. A cloud-based work management solution provides a single workspace that streamlines and centralizes collaboration with tools that are intuitive and flexible for users, both internal and external. 

Is your organization ready to handle work management in a new way? There are telltale signs that it’s time for you to look into a new solution, the most visible of which may be employee frustration and wasted time.  But there are solid business use cases as well:

  • Teams that need to work together on continually changing data, documents and plans;
  • Projects that need ongoing planning and management, but without the restrictions of formal methodologies;
  • Work activity that needs a central, consistent place for sharing up-to-date information and communications, including for archive purposes;
  • The need to collaborate externally, but with greater security than is possible with email.

What may be the clearest sign of all: When some employees and teams already have their own subscriptions to cloud-based work management tools, without authorization or technical support from IT.

Why Not Email?

Some users may want to stay with email, arguing that everyone has it and knows how to use it. But email comes with significant challenges, including managing the huge volume of messages that make it hard to sort, search, or find relevant communications over time. In addition, email is not a good tool for managing shared work on documents, conversation threading, or exchanging information securely.

Moving to a cloud tool can improve security for collaboration, especially with external users, customers, and third-party partners. The tool should let IT restrict content access via user white lists and provide granular controls over what individual users can view and change.

For some users, email may remain their preferred tool. But more likely, it will become a fallback option as employees discover the ease, security, and productivity benefits of a full enterprise-grade work management solution.

Getting Users to Move Beyond Email

Tools that provide transparent collaboration and shared context will encourage people to move away from email. However, solutions that only offer cloud drives are based on a folder structure, so it’s hard for users to create context around that content to make it meaningful and easy to find.

A full work management tool offers a better way to organize and share the spectrum of information types, including visuals and rich data sets. A cloud-based solution makes it easier to see context because it pulls together content from multiple drives, teams, and sources into one place, for a centralized view.

“Email will never be able to provide the overall context for information sharing and planning activities,” says Sherwood. “Email can provide the back-and-forth about individual items, but it can’t give you an immediate, overall picture of what’s going on.”

Replacing Chaos with Clarity

Understand that even when your organization chooses a work-manageement tool, you may need to live with continued chaos for a while as users explore the new solution. The reward for this patience: Once employees make the switch to cloud collaboration, your organization will no longer incur the high productivity tax on email sharing–and instead enjoy productivity gains.

Read more about the Smartsheet enterprise work management solution.