Tools on the ground.
PHOTO: Paul Downey

Effective collaboration rocks for most companies. A study done by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, a professor at Babson College, found that companies that embraced collaborative working (membership required) were five times as likely to be high performing. In an effort to increase collaboration, many companies turn to collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Atlassian, but those tools are only as good as their alignment to a company's business objectives, experts told CMSWire.

In order to ensure you're getting maximum potential over the long haul from your collaboration and productivity tools, organizations should have metrics and a measurement program in place. We caught up with some experts and practitioners to find out how organizations should be measuring the effectiveness of their digital workplace tools and technology.

Understand the Problems

The big question is: do you even need a tool? Companies bringing on a new tool or technology need to understand what problem they are trying to solve and whether it can it be solved by something they already use, Dawson said.

"Employees today have tools to help with everything from communication to engagement to recognition, but with the increase in workplace technology comes the question of return on investment,” said Kim Dawson, director of employee experience at YouEarnedIt

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Look for Technology Fatigue

Ask your employees regularly about the tools they use. If you're providing your employees with too many tools that they are required to use, they can reach a “technology fatigue” and may not adopt the new tool your company just invested a lot of money in, Dawson said. 

Understand Your KPIs and Set Benchmarks From the Start

Companies must understand what success looks like, according to Dawson. You could work with a technology company to get baseline stats pre-launch and revisit the numbers every quarter to check engagement levels. You could also set the company goals for the tools yourself. Either way, “there needs to be some way to measure success,” Dawson added.

Oji Udezue, Atlassian head of product for Atlassian's communications products, said companies should not be touting how many hours people are spending in their tools or how many messages are sent. “That's not where we see the value,” Udezue said. “When measuring digital workplace tools' effectiveness, good KPIs to look for are how much time teammates are spending in deep work and how regularly are teams jumping into a video meeting to quickly resolve a roadblock.”

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Define Value for Employee Usage

It’s helpful that employees know what they’re using tools for — and how they can continue to add value to your organization as they use them. Dawson cited her own team’s Slack usage, where her company asks employees to use specific Slack channels for specific things so they continue to add value. Its “General” channel is used for work-related messages to the entire company while its “Random” channel is used for superfluous, informative and/or funny messages that help connect all the members of the company.  “Both add value in their own ways and have made it easier for the team to share without overflowing email inboxes,” Dawson said,

Are Your Tools Preventing Errors and Bottlenecks

Udezue said another good measurement is how much incorrect work is reduced by providing a shared perspective of where the work stands and who owns what tasks. “The increase in productivity and decrease in bottlenecks, miscommunications or incorrect work are where teams get the real value from implementing these tools,” Udezue said.

Net Promoter Score and Surveys

Fouad ElNaggar, CEO of Sapho, said he’s seen enterprises run internal Net Promoter Scores (NPS) measuring the efficacy of their digital workplace tools. IT runs the NPS during and after a rollout to benchmark the improved satisfaction levels among employees. IT also implements productivity surveys before and after a rollout, especially among managers, to see whether or not the digital workplace initiative had an impact.