How to choose the right team collaboration tool

When it comes to choosing a team collaboration tool, there’s no dearth of options in the market. One glance at the G2 Crowd Grid for Team Collaboration Softwares, and you can find more than 300 results! On top of that, there’s almost 100 more tools that you will find in the Internal Communications Software category; after all, there can be no collaboration without communication, right?

However, not all communication always leads to collaboration, at least not to productive collaboration. Some may argue that Workplace by Facebook is a great tool to ‘collaborate’ across the organisation and generate ideas through open discussions; but at the heart of it, it’s an internal social network – built for more generic communication use cases, with a few instances of people really coming together to get something done.

Similarly, all the tools in the two categories mentioned above fall somewhere on this communication-collaboration continuum; each having it’s own sweet mix of communication and collaboration capabilities.

What doesn’t help the decision maker either is that clever product marketing teams are quick to leverage this overlap, and position their tools for team communication as well as team collaboration, almost interchangeably. This makes the lines even blurrier, and the choices even more difficult.  And that’s why, more often than not, it leads to teams either using one too many communication+collaboration tools mix, or trying to force one tool to do the job of many!

How to choose the right team collaboration tool for your business?

The flowchart below helps you answer some of the big questions around your needs and expectations from a team collaboration tool. Through a series of questions, it helps you move through the communication-collaboration continuum to find the best fit team collaboration tool.

Your journey begins at the communication end of this spectrum. These are tools more suited for one-way conversations (think company-wide announcements, news, updates), or discussions of a more generic, ongoing nature.

The last thing you want to do when selecting a team collaboration tool is to fall into the trap of assuming a tool to be capable of something it isn’t! So, as you traverse along our guide, you will encounter questions that help you figure out these nuances better. Each question points to a different family of tools, based on the approach they have taken to solve team collaboration. We’ve also listed out a few corresponding tools, along with our honest feedback *wink wink*.

Some of these tools offer secure, one-on-one/group chat service, with a varying ability to share files and documents; there are a few that have built communication and interaction features into their primary offerings of project/task/workflow management; and then there are some focused on being both a communication AND a collaboration tool with IM and file sharing capabilities.

Towards the end of this continuum are standalone team collaboration tools. These tools have features like real-time messaging, dedicated channels and streams, searchable chat records, and integrations with other frequently used business apps and softwares.

Feel free to stop at the stage where you seem to have found your ‘the one’. In fact, you may end up picking more than one of these tools as well, depending on the complexity of your needs.

But, if just like us, you reached so far and were still not satisfied with the array of options you’re looking at, our next recommendation is for you.

Contextual collaboration : The next big thing in team collaboration tools

We think that the most important ingredient for a successful team collaboration tool is the ability to allow context-driven collaboration. We believe that people should be collaborating where their work happens, and not the other way around; whether it’s a support agent looking to collaborate on customer issues in Freshdesk, or a sales agent trying to close a deal with some collaborative effort in Freshsales.

With Freshconnect, we are making contextual collaboration a reality, and if you like what you’re hearing, come give it a try.

How to choose the right team collaboration tool

Think there are some other pertinent things to keep in mind while selecting a team collaboration tool? Share with us in comments.

Credits: Infographic and feature image by Nikhil Kanda.