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Looking for New Work Management Tools? Start by Asking Your Users

Your need to identify new collaboration tools your users will actually use. Start with a bottoms-up look at what’s already been adopted.

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Smartsheet

Which are the best tools for enterprise work management? The ones that employees will actually use, of course--tools that deliver an easy, intuitive, and flexible experience for users. But beyond the user experience, the tool must offer robust security, administration controls, and integration with other enterprise applications.

How do you find the best collaboration tools for your organization? Start with a bottoms-up look at what has already been adopted by individual teams.

What Are Employees Already Using?

Like any cloud-based software, the use of work management tools often starts with one employee who signs up, likes it, and starts encouraging colleagues to use it. Soon, enough employees and teams are using the tool that either someone notifies IT, or IT finds out—and considers the tool for formal approval and support.

Instead of viewing this “shadow IT” usage as something to rein in, consider it helpful input on what employees need and what other users are more likely to adopt.  Yet the stamp of IT approval shouldn’t be given until each tool has gone through a proper vetting process. There are four important areas to evaluate in this process: Security, integration, support requirements, and potential for global adoption.

  1. Security Is Paramount

Secure collaboration is essential when sensitive enterprise data and intellectual property is stored in cloud-based tools. Verify that the tool vendor has the capabilities to maintain strong security measures, including any certifications required for regulatory compliance.

  1. Integration for Productive Work

Collaboration will only be effective if the tools are integrated seamlessly for users. Here is a list of tool categories to consider, along with representative products:

  • Core enterprise work management platform  that provides a central workspace and integration point for teams, projects, and other tools and applications (Smartsheet)

  • Threaded online chat (Microsoft Teams)

  • Conference call and online meeting (LoopUp)

  • Note capture and organizing (Evernote)

  • Document and file sharing (Google G Suite)

  1. Support Requirements

Take the time to ask the following questions, and make sure the answers are clear: Can the vendor meet user expectations for 24/7 support? Will users need training to become effective with the tool? Does the vendor offer professional services for implementation and customization? Is the tool’s performance comparable to what users experience with internally hosted applications?

  1. Readiness for Remote Workers and Global Adoption

It’s unlikely that your organization will find the perfect set of work management tools from a single vendor. Instead, look for tools that offer flexibility and integration to support remote and on-premises users, in-country and globally.

Lowering the Risk in Choosing Collaboration Tools

In a survey of IT decision-makers, 70% have a top-down strategy for how enterprise work management platforms are implemented and used. But looking for what’s already at work in your organization is usually a more effective way to choose a collaboration tool, and lowers the risk of implementing a product that users never embrace.

Read more in the full Smartsheet report: 2017 State of Enterprise Collaboration

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