In this hyper-connected economy and with the rapid growth of cloud-based social technologies, collaboration applications have become an increasingly important part of how work gets done. Many companies are now using these tools to improve efficiencies and sharpen their business practices. With many factors to consider, choosing and implementing the most effective collaborative app(s) for your business can dramatically improve your company’s bottom line.

Collaborative Technologies

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Many types of collaborative tools exist in the marketplace. Some are specific to key business applications such as project management or CRM. Others specialize in horizontal social communication or niche areas such as file storage and sharing. Some even offer broad capabilities such as collaboration, file sharing and financials, all in a single platform.

Choosing the Best Solution for your Business

Things businesses must consider when choosing a vendor are:

  • Users: Who will be using the product? Employees, clients, and/or external vendors? What permissions and administrative controls will you need?
  • Business Use Cases: How will the product be used? Is it for internal teams or to facilitate intercompany collaboration?
  • Features: What does the product offer? Collaboration and project management? File Sharing? Other business functions?
  • Usability: How easy is the product to learn and use? Is it intuitive or complex?
  • Integrations: Since no product can serve all needs, robust apps integrate with others such as email, or financial applications.
  • Costs: Pricing on collaborative technologies ranges from free to thousands of dollars a month depending on the vendor, the number of users and the complexity of the feature set. When considering Return on Investment (ROI), always balance any perceived value with the cost of the product including more intangible costs, such as training, and time to roll out and administer.

ROI Considerations

As with any business investment, the question then arises, “What is the ROI for online collaborative technologies?” Some gains are quantifiable and some are not. To get a complete cost of ownership, consider both tangible and intangibles and compare to costs.

For this niche of applications, benefits can be grouped into several categories including:

  • Productivity gains from improved internal and external communication.
  • Reduced overhead through coordination of a distributed and/or international workforce.
  • More Sales/ Clients due to increased efficiency and professionalism.

Let’s look at each of the above in detail: