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5 Best Practices for Implementing Collaboration Technology

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ShoreTel Unified Communications

Businesses are investing in collaboration technology at a rapid pace due to advances in unified communications (UC), which integrate key components of robust business communications. Robust collaboration technology solutions, such as ShoreTel’s UC, integrate voice, email, instant messaging, presence (co-worker availability), calendaring, video and audio conferencing and desktop sharing for greater collaboration.

When adopting a UC solution, employee buy in is critical. But achieving this can be a challenge since change can be a tough pill to swallow for a busy business.

That means the champions behind the collaboration technologies need to ace the rollout. Otherwise, skeptical managers and workers are likely to ignore the new tools, meaning the company won't see much of a return on its investment.

Fortunately, the team can encourage adoption by following a few best practices. Here are five surefire ways to make sure your investment in collaboration technology pays off.

  1. Tie it to organizational goals. No executive is going to get behind any initiative that isn’t linked to overall business goals. But without leadership buy-in, your project is unlikely to go far. So make sure you connect your efforts to each department’s goals and priorities. For example, an executive tasked with improving customer service is sure to get behind collaboration technologies that are proven to reduce response time. And let’s face it: Few things drive employee adoption rates better than the boss’s advocacy.
  2. Have a strategy. As with any initiative, there should be a strategy behind your rollout. By sharing a plan that explains where you're going and why, others in your company will be more likely to support you along the way. Also, the act of developing the strategy will help you anticipate objections and roadblocks and deal with them early on. Develop concrete objectives, timelines and tactics for deploying the new system. By the way, it’s a good idea to phase your rollouts, so that you can beta test features with small teams and work out the kinks before deploying a solution to the wider organization.
  3. Communicate early and often. Changes at work can be difficult. It's a sad fact that employees often resist new technologies if they don’t understand why they’re being adopted. So be sure you have a good communications plan that helps your colleagues understand the bigger picture. In addition to describing the goals and benefits of the new system, be crystal clear about how it will make their jobs easier. With plenty of lead-time and details about what’s happening and when, people will make the switch in greater numbers with fewer bumps.
  4. Audit workflow first. Before you define technical requirements, make sure you understand how employees perform tasks today. A workflow audit will identify steps in their processes and the tools they use to do their work. It’s much easier to build new habits on top of old, so the best collaboration technologies are the ones that integrate with the tools your people use every day.
  5. Simplify the learning curve. Your rollout will be measured by the rate of adoption, so training is critical. Learning tools should be convenient, practical and brief. The less training your employees require, the higher your adoption rates will be.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t have to be painful. A thorough plan that takes into account the needs and concerns of executives and employees will go a long way toward increasing your adoption rates and achieving the goals you've set for your collaboration technology.