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How to choose an online collaboration tool

Have you been looking for an online collaboration tool that’s right for your business?

If so, you’re certain to have encountered dozens of different solutions. Some are lean and mean. Others are complex with lots of features. And when it comes to pricing, you’ll have encountered everything from cheap, flexible deals to expensive long-term contracts.

With such a range of options open to you, it can be really difficult to source the software that’s best for your business. You won’t have time to try every system, but if you make a hasty choice and opt for an online collaboration tool that’s not suitable for your business, you can end up wasting a significant amount of time and money.

So how do you choose well?

Draw up a collaboration checklist

As a first step, draw up a checklist of the functionality you need. If you want to use online collaboration tools to create a project extranet, you’ll need to find a tool with top-flight security, flexible access privileges and tools that allows you to collaborate efficiently with third parties. Or if you plan to use the software for research and consultation, essential features will include easy-to-create polls and questionnaires, plus a database to store information and reporting software to analyse feedback.

But a checklist of this kind will only take you so far. Unless you have highly specialised requirements, the chances are that you’ll find at least half a dozen solutions that offer the functionality you need.

Ask tough questions

At this point, you need to ask some tough questions about each software provider, the ease with which their systems can be deployed, the support they can offer you and — most importantly of all — how much they charge, and in what way.

To help you, we’ve drawn up a list of 10 key questions that will put both software providers and their solutions to the test. We’ve summarised them below, but you can get hold of our full guide as a free download — it contains essential extra information that will help you choose the right online collaboration tool for your business and your budget.

What should you ask suppliers?

    1. Does its functionality meet my needs? Does the software have the tools and interfaces I need for the kind of collaboration I plan for my business?
    2. How flexible is it? Does the system adapt to my way of working and give me a good choice of solution templates?
    3. How scalable is it? Can I add new users and create new workspaces with ease, and without significant cost or development time?
    4. How can I access it? Is it a cloud solution, or do I have to host it on my own servers? 
    5. How easy is it to use? Is it intuitive enough to minimise training costs and ensure staff adoption?

Receive 5 extra questions to ask collaboration tool suppliers

Armed with these questions, you’ll soon be able to whittle down your shortlist of online collaboration tools to a manageable number — and stand a better chance of choosing the best one for your needs. But be sure to read our complete guide – Online Collaboration Tools. 10 Questions to Ask a Supplier. It costs nothing and is packed with advice that could save you a lot of hassle, and even a small fortune.

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