Thursday, August 5, 2010

Choosing Enterprise 2.0 Collaboration Tools

I recently read and commented on an article on WebWorkerDaily about "5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Enterprise Collaboration Tools."

The article listed the following as relevant for both large and small organizations, as well as companies of different types:

  1. 1- Where will your team be working?
  2. 2- Does it offer room for your team to grow?
  3. 3- How stable is the company that makes the application?
  4. 4- How bleeding edge do you need to be?
  5. 5- How does the pricing break down in the long-term?
(Read more in-depth descriptions of the above in the WWD article.)

These are all excellent questions and are vital to the decision-making process. There are many more to add that are important and relevant across industries and company size. I expanded it to a top 10 (not in order of priority) and then added one for good luck.

6. How well can the solution scale to support a larger user base? This is a key element for most companies, unless you are 200% sure you will never, ever grow (kind of a pessimistic viewpoint, don't you think?) Scalability is so important because any investment in a new tool costs the company time and money. You want to be sure you won't have to throw away all that effort when you add 20 employees or 200. A quality collaboration solution will have the ability to grow with the enterprise.

7. How secure is it? Obviously, you have security systems in place enterprise-wide that protect individual PCs and the company network. Collaboration tools often have the options to deploy on-premise (behind your company firewall) or in the cloud, SaaS style (web based). On-premise deployments would have the same security as your other tools and information. You want to be sure all can integrated securely. Plus, many IT people are concerned about security with web-based services. It is important that your collaboration tool provider has considered this and has in place a robust, enterprise-grade security system that prevents unauthorized access to sensitive information.

8. How easy is it for a non-technical user, as many enterprise workers are? Wiki syntax, HTML and so on are great for a behind the scenes discussion of how your collaboration tool works, but they are not the terms you average user needs or wants to be concerned with. WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get - is a confusing acronym, but the meaning behind it is what matters. Navigating through a new tool, adding materials and collaborating should be so easy even the least technical employee you have can do it. Confusing systems are barriers to participation, which defeats the very purpose of the collaboration tool purchase.

9. What is the quality and level of support after you purchase? Several other commenters to the WWD article made note of this, and it is a key element. With any collaboration and E2.0 tool, you will have questions and need support. There may be a priced package or some other type of support, but you need to know what you can expect from your solution provider after you sign on the dotted line.

10. How do the features match our objectives? Why are you buying this collaboration tool? What does your company hope to accomplish with it?It’s important to have some understanding of what you hope to accomplish with your tool so that you can match features to tasks. If document management is one of your key objectives, how does the tool organize pages, sections, etc.? Work it out to figure out what you need, otherwise anyone can sell you something you don't.

11. BONUS: Can I play with it before I buy? Look for solutions that aren’t afraid to let you trial for free during the consideration process. This is the best way to determine ease of use and determine whether all your employees - the tech-oriented ones and the non-techies (see #8 above) - can grasp the interface. WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get - is a good feature to look for. This is also a good time to see the features in action. Reading about dashboards and WebDAV is one thing, seeing how it actually works is another thing completely and will enable you to get a good feel for what you can expect to see on a daily basis with your own tool.

Are there more considerations integral to the process that I haven't mentioned here? Probably. What are some of yours?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 Interview about SamePage

My colleague, Venu Shastri, was recently interview by Here, he tells Rich Tehrani all about SamePage, key features and how companies can put it to use.

Read more about SamePage version 4.3 at