These tools won’t make your team more productive: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Facebook Workplace, Hipchat, SharePoint.
All these tools came to life because many people thought that there is an issue to be solved around teamwork and team productivity. The much hated email inbox was the target for a long time, after we realized that email isn’t going anywhere. It should be replaced by something less archaic. Avoid scrolling back and forth, stay updated with newsfeeds or in teamchats and please stop sending around files via email attachments!
What has also not changed is that many companies think very little about how to support their users adapting to new tools and routines that come with them. Email is a learned communication channel for over 20 years, you cannot send an invite to all co-workers stating “now we got Slack, use it” and expect everyone will figure out how that boosts their productivity.
Rolling out new tools or apps inside a company or project team has gotten much easier from a technical point of view. Instead of buying software licences in advance and hiring an IT company to roll it out on your company network you can activate a teamchat software like Slack on a free plan and all your teammates have to do is browse an app store to get started.
So imagine in your role as project manager, digital entrepreneur, consultant: your company evolved over the years and got more and more infrastructure running, your set up may looks like this:
- Outlook or Gmail for email and calendaring
- Trello, ToDoIst, Basecamp, Jira for Project Management
- Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Hipchat for team chat
- Skype, GoToMeeting, Teamviewer for online conferencing
- WordPress, Medium, Tumblr for Blogging
- Accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat
- Chats on WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Threema, Signal, Telegram, Skype
- Cloud space at Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, Amazon
- Analytics with Google Analytics, Hotjar, Mixpanel
- eMail with Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, Cleverreach
- Dashboards with PowerBI, Geckoboard
The list could go on and especially everything gets more complicated if you have to work with tools your clients use and you have to adapt to their routines too.
Most of the time new tools get added to the mix but nothing is removed in return. Seldomly someone sends out “now we got Slack, so stop using Skype”.
This got me thinking about the One-in, two-out statement, which the UK government applied for a few years to get rid of useless regulations for businesses.
It states as follows:
Businesses say 1 of their biggest problems is the number of new regulations they have to comply with. It costs them time and money.
To reduce the number of new regulations for businesses, the government operates a ‘one-in, two-out’ rule. This prevents government policymakers from creating new regulations that increase costs for business and voluntary organisations.
When policymakers do need to introduce a new regulation, and where there is a cost to complying with that regulation, they have to remove or modify an existing regulation with double the cost to business.
Why not take this rule and apply it to your business? Replace regulations with tools in the text above. Imagine you added tools and apps to the work routines of your staff over the last five to ten years, don’t you think you still have something running which is used in the wrong way or is not adding any value?
Businesses say 1 of their biggest problems is the number of tools they have to comply with. It costs them time and money.
Applying that rule, could lead to a real productivity boost and cost savings.
Next time you want your team to start using a new tool just add one question to the process: If we decide (after careful testing, creating scenarios, user interviews) to roll out tool X, which tool Y do we discontinue to use and how does the new tool improve our internal workflows?
How can you prepare users for the roll out of your next social collaboration tool?
- Evaluate the tool: technical evaluation is done quickly for most of the cloud based team collaboration tools, so focus on business and user scenarios instead
- Start small: Involve people or teams who work heavily together in the planning process to meet their needs
- This leaves you with specific usecases / communication scenarios and test how the new tool helps making it better for your team
- Apply the one-in, two out rule > discuss which tools or apps you stop using because of the new process & tool you got instead
- Simplicity: All the changes and rules should be written on max. 1 page
- Create training material and a launch plan
- Launch the new tool or app and have a plan for the time after it
I am challenging my clients and freelancers with some of those questions every time we start a project and think about using a new tool to manage it. Just keep in mind: a new tool does not solve any issues, people do.