Small Business Owner Technology Guide: How do I select the right collaboration tools for my business?

Online collaboration can take you far in furthering your business, especially if it’s a small one. Whatever the nature of your business, it requires collective and collaborative efforts to execute any project. For instance, if you run an ad agency, you may have a good designer working from another city, or an excellent copywriter who, unfortunately, cannot shift to your business location. And frankly, in this day and age of such strong global communication networks, there should be no need for people to sit and work from a single location. By having quality people working from different places, you not only save on infrastructure and other business costs, which setting up a large single office would entail, you are also able to ensure that you get the industry-best talent without location constraint.
Key benefits of online collaboration
As you can see, online collaboration is a great way of ensuring seamless functioning of your small business, notwithstanding its multi-location operations, often in different time zones. A good collaboration tool helps you manage workflow smoothly, without any obstruction, and ensures real-time access to data and files across locations, any time of the day or night. So if you have effective application software at hand, you can ensure perfect coordination and communication flow between professionals, irrespective of where they are located. Such a tool or software may be delivered via the Cloud, or in the form of some other platform, which helps integrate multiple communication applications across functions and people. Most of these tools are extremely easy to use and do not require any special training or learning. This means the cost of adoption of such a tool is minimal, which is what you’d naturally require for your small business with a limited budget.
Getting it right the first time
A critical aspect of choosing a collaboration tool is to ensure that you get it right the first time. You really cannot afford to waste your precious time or money, which would be better deployed elsewhere, on experimenting with one tool after another. So how do you ensure that you’re making the right choice the first time?
There are several criteria to help you take a studied decision in this regard. To begin with, you should look for a tool that supports all kinds of communication methods so as not to be limited by a particular communication format or platform. This means you should check for secure messaging, group message facility,an integrating messaging feature, online and mobile video conference (without which you’d really get stuck at your desk 24/7), storage of conversations in a safe and secure environment, and facility to host video chats.
Ease of use a must
Another key facet of an online collaboration tool you need to take into account is ease of use. The tool should be easy to adopt, deploy and use, with a user-friendly interface to make it simple for all to grasp the nuances of its working. Workflow management should also be easy with the tool you opt for, as you’d otherwise be left struggling to keep track of a document or file involved in any project or process. Ease of use also implies a special provision for digital workspace where the team members collaborating on a project can meet and discuss online. Use on multiple platforms, with mobile-friendly features, is also a must when choosing the right tool for your small business.
Scheduling is vital
When it comes to tracking a project file or document, or any other aspect of the workflow, there are several important parameters that need to be accounted for while choosing a collaboration tool. Creation of task lists is one aspect of this, as you’d need a simple methodology to ensure that you’re able to create lists of tasks on any project without a hassle. Then there’s the schedule management function, which should also be simple and effective, involving no complex features. You should also ensure that your chosen tool is capable of tracking multiple projects at the same time; after all you wouldn’t want to spend money on purchasing separate software for separate projects. Integration with calendar apps would also be beneficial when it comes to scheduling and tracking of tasks.
Dynamic functionality
While an online collaboration tool is, by nature, a dynamic system, some such tools are more vibrant than others. What you need and should go for, therefore, is a tool more dynamic than the average variety available out there. Your tool should work with all varieties of files with consistent ease;it should be high on security and should keep evolving to match the changing security needs of your business;and it should not be difficult to integrate with the apps you’re currently using in your business.
Conclusion
As is evident, it’s important to find the right tool to make your business collaboration effective and hasslefree. Real-time, possibly unlimited, collaboration is your best bet if you want something that’s really good. https://products.office.com/en-in/business/office-365-business-essentials is a good resource when it comes to choosing an excellent collaboration tool for your small business, mainly because of its affordable and quality features. The tool is easy to set up and manage, and extremely simple to use. With Office 365 Business Essentials, you can easily work across your multiple devices to create, edit and share your Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote files online—anytime, anywhere. It comes with a step-by-step guide, and is also available online to take you through its functionality and operations. Besides editing your documents in real time, it also helps you store, sync, and share your files online so that they remain updated at all times.

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