4 Tips for Rolling Out Collaborative Software and Ensuring Teams Use It

Collaboration among team members is necessary for any business to succeed, and company leaders are constantly striving to boost their teams’ productivity. After all, every business wants its employees to work smarter, not harder. Various collaboration tools and workgroup support systems can help increase productivity, but only if employees are actually using the tools – and doing so effectively.

Collaborative tools such as Lync, SharePoint and Outlook Web App with Hosted Exchange are helping us do our jobs more quickly and efficiently. However, many companies fail to raise productivity levels after instituting new tools because of the way they were rolled out and implemented. By following four essential tips, your company can conduct a smooth migration and get the most from your collaboration software.

Communicate Early and Often about the Rollout

Although it might seem the tool itself will be explanation enough for why employees should use it, you can’t make such an assumption. Taking time to send an email explaining, for example, that the company will implement Lync in order to enable instant communication, presence tracking and video conferencing, you’re giving employees a heads-up that a new tool is coming and an immediate understanding of how it will improve their productivity.

Be sure to also specify the timeframe for a software rollout. As explained in the next tip, not every team may receive the toolset at the same time, so clarifying when each department will receive the new digital toolset can help them plan around it as necessary.

Plan to Roll Out the Toolset in Phases

Rolling out a toolset in phases enables you to implement that toolset in one department, then test it and make necessary adjustments before moving on to other departments.

Something to keep in mind is that not every group works the same way, nor will they all be equally effective in using the same toolsets. Ensure the testing involves an opportunity for employees to offer constructive feedback, which you can use for making adjustments and training other teams to use the tools as efficiently as possible, as discussed in the next tip.

Provide Training and Best Practices for Using the Collaboration Toolsets

Initially, if employees are unfamiliar with a toolset, giving them a handy list of features and best practices can be just the introduction they need.

Required employee training is a great way to help workers become more comfortable using the tools effectively and on a frequent basis. Training should include an explanation of the toolset’s features, as well as when and how to use them.

Effective training requires time and focus. Be sure to allow employees adequate time either to attend training sessions or to view self-guided tutorials.

Implement a User-Friendly Collaboration Toolset

Well before a rollout takes place, choose a toolset that will make sense with how your employees already work. A toolset that isn’t a natural fit will likely fail to deliver the productivity boost you’re hoping for. For example, if employees are familiar with Outlook, choosing tools that integrate with it is a smart plan.

Establishing secure communication, file sharing and progress tracking across departments and locations is a must when you have geographically dispersed teams who need to access the same files. SharePoint is a great document management tool that enables long-distance collaboration. Additionally, Exchange combined with Lync gives users a way to speed up communication response times through chat or video conferencing, helping them interact in real time from virtually anywhere.

Selecting the appropriate productivity tools and ensuring your teams understand those toolsets are vital steps for boosting efficiency in the workplace. Thanks to cloud collaboration tools like videoconferencing, mobile user management and anywhere-access to e-mail, the tasks of communicating, sharing data and managing workloads across remote teams are becoming simpler all the time.

For more information about Microsoft SharePoint, click here.

For more information about Microsoft Exchange, click here. For Microsoft Lync, click here.

Brooke Jackson is a product marketing manager for Rackspace Private Cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure Stack and Hyper-V. She has been a Racker since 2009 and has more than 15 years of experience in product management and marketing. Brooke earned her BS and MBA from Virginia Tech, and lives in Blacksburg, VA with her family. You can find Brooke on LinkedIn.

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