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How to Choose an Enterprise Collaboration Tool

Ready to adopt a collaboration platform? Find out which one is best suited fro your company needs.

Enterprise collaboration describes a technology-driven communications system used by employees to interact and complete work tasks within a group inside or across departments. Sometimes groups also include business partners that are part the larger enterprise.

The primary benefit of collaborating digitally is increased productivity and efficiencies across the company. But succeeding at collaboration requires your organization to be ready for it. How do you know if you’re ready? And if you are ready, how do you decide which collaboration platform—or Workplace by Facebook— is best suited to the needs of your organization?

As the leading innovator of solutions designed to ensure compliance and protect organizational culture within enterprise collaboration environments, Aware wants to help you answer these questions. In this guide, we share some of what we’ve learned over years of working with global organizations and various collaboration platforms.

How to Choose an Enterprise Collaboration Platform
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Collaboration is the way of the future for businesses, pushing out email as the one-to-one and one-to-many communication tool of choice. Thousands of organizations worldwide (including Oxfam International and AstraZeneca) have made the leap to collaboration platforms, but how do you know if your company is ready to do the same?


 


Define Your Collaboration Goals

There are several reasons that companies are moving away from traditional ways of working and communicating, and turning to enterprise collaboration tools. Defining your goals on the frontend of adopting a tool will ensure that you select the right tool.

 

Reduced Email

The ability to collaborate in real-time tends to reduce organizational dependence on email. While email has its place, it wasn't built for collaboration. Being able to informally "chat" in a group about project plans, ideas, updates, questions and answers in real-time is much faster and more efficient than the back-and-forth of email—especially when a large group is involved.

Increased Productivity

Collaboration reduces the email burden and time spent in meetings, freeing up more time to do the work. Having unified communications and easy access to documents creates efficiencies, speeds the workflow and makes the company more agile. It increases productivity within the enterprise, creating a competitive advantage.

More Effective Teamwork

Collaboration platforms bring teammates together in real-time and allows them to work smarter. With real-time group interaction, digital collaboration often proves more efficient than email. Collecting edits to a document via email, for example, is prone to error and confusion. Having a shared document that team members can view simultaneously and edit in real-time is far more productive.

Increased Transparency

Collaboration platforms make it easier and more efficient to share ideas, information and documents within a group, leading to greater transparency around the work being done. This can also create more personal accountability and a higher level of trust—inspiring individuals and teams to share ideas more openly. This type of collaboration can also reduce counter-productive activities, such as information hoarding.

This inherent meta-knowledge with these collaboration platforms also make it possible to recover otherwise lost information when an employee departs a company.

 


 


Evaluate the Benefits and Drawbacks of Collaboration Platform Options

Too often, companies start the evaluation process by researching available collaboration solutions. Instead the process should begin with understanding the why behind adopting collaboration.

Take the time to map out how people in your organization are communicating:

1. Discover your users needs

Ask questions, create surveys, document the needs and force-rank them based on a set of criteria that makes sense for your company. 

Examples of these needs could include:

  • Financial impact
  • Impact on productivity 
  • Risk versus reward

2. Determine if any collaboration tools are already in use.

It is not unusual for a small group to use a tool without others knowing. Nor is it uncommon for various groups to use different . tools. Getting this shadow IT out in the open not only allows you to gather use input on the tools, but also properly secure them.

3. Create a cross-functional team

Create a trial period with this team, document your successes and failures and determine potential areas for improvement.

 4. Test before you launch

Provide direct input into collaboration options. Start by evaluating the tools that are already in use, then expand the score to other options.

5. Keep your initial rollout small

Once key stakeholders agree on a solution, start small and gain some successes before rolling out to other groups and departments.


 


Understand the Leading Enterprise Collaboration Options 

Thousands of companies today use collaboration platforms from Microsoft and Facebook to improve their communications and productivity. Which one(s) will work best for you depends on your organization’s needs, culture, strategies and compliance processes.

Aware monitoring and governance tool works equally well with platforms from both companies to provide AI-infused compliance and culture protection, enhanced visibility into public & private messages, increased security against insider threats, and user data management & retention.

Benefits of Microsoft Collaboration Tools

Microsoft offers a variety of collaboration tools through Office 365 and they come with some great benefits.

Professional Familiarity 

It’s likely that your organization is already using the suite of Microsoft O!ce 365 tools — making Microsoft collaboration tools accessible to the everyday user. You may even be paying for licenses already for one or more of these tools.

Complete Integration

As stated previously, Microsoft is in nearly all enterprise environments, and so as Microsoft continues to build collaboration tools into its suite of applications, your organization’s operations can stay technologically up-to-date.

Easy Deployment

Microsoft collaboration tools are fully integrated within Office 365 and relatively simple to deploy. It doesn’t take much work to turn desktop software on your computer into a rich collaborative experience.

Multiple Options

Users need to use what works for them. Microsoft always provides multiple choices to work, including more ways to collaborate depending on what you need to accomplish.


The Microsoft Options: Yammer and Microsoft Teams

While some are similar in nature, they differ in their approach. Significant documentation exists describing the differences between these tools.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a threaded chat- based workspace within Office 365, which means it integrates naturally with other Microsoft Office products, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and OneNote.

Teams provides integrated voice, video and meeting capabilities, and supports third-party applications and bots working inside the interface. Employees can direct message or be grouped together to discuss a topic and share and collaborate on documents.

Teams is seen as a meta-operating system, in that it becomes a hub for teamwork and productivity.

Yammer

Yammer was an early forerunner in the business collaboration space, allowing employees to compile messages, files and updates in a single destination and increase information sharing through conversation groups.

Users can interact in either open public groups or private ones for sharing sensitive information. Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012 and recently integrated the platform with Office 365 Groups, a hub for teamwork and productivity allowing users to access both Office 365 and third-party services from a single interface.

Benefits of Workplace by Facebook

In 2016, riding on the massive popularity of the consumer platform, Facebook launched an enterprise collaboration platform for business. Workplace by Facebook is designed to get employees talking, sharing openly and working differently.

It offers all the essential functionality you’d expect from an enterprise collaboration network, including chat (both one-to-one & group-based), a customizable news feed, message translation and more.

Personal Familiarity

For employees, there’s comfort in using software you already know, with over 2.2 billion people around the world frequently accessing Facebook in their personal life. Workplace was built with Facebook DNA, making it an easy transition for anyone who uses Facebook on a regular basis. The fact that Facebook is consumer-based and Workplace is business-based is inconsequential. There’s no need to build awareness, and training time is all but eliminated.

Fast Implementation and Deployment

Workplace by Facebook is an out-of-the-box solution and deployment is fast & easy, typically taking just 6-8 weeks to roll out enterprise-wide (1,000+ users).

Rapid Product Development

Workplace has a culture of rapid development and seeking feedback from their customers. Thousands of software engineers work on enhancing their products every day. Releases and improvements occur frequently, which bene"ts Workplace users.

Robust Integrations Directory

Workplace recently announced the launch of its integrations directory, which includes some of the most popular SaaS tools like Aware, Jira Cloud by Atlassian, Microsoft O!ce, Microsoft Sharepoint, ServiceNow, Share from Box, Adobe Sign and SurveyMonkey. The directory currently lists over 50 integrations, with plans to add more.

Social and Mobile Expertise 

Facebook knows how to build platforms that people across the world enjoy using. It knows that whether they’re at home or work, people are social creatures that want to communicate informally and on-the-go, and this is what Workplace offers. In addition, the company has more mobile users than any other provider of collaboration platforms.

More Efficient Way of Getting Work Done

Workplace offers conversational interfaces that support a new way of working. Chat bots can interact with other tools you are using to get tasks done more efficiently. For example, you can use a digital assistant to book travel, update the calendar and file expenses, all through conversational interfaces.


 


Consider Multiple Collaboration Solutions

Fortunately, both Microsoft and Facebook know the advantages of playing nice with other software. Workplace by Facebook doesn’t replace Microsoft functionality, but it can be used to complement it and be the place where conversations occur in a familiar interface. 

Microsoft, meanwhile, has learned its lessons about building a ‘walled garden.’Its collaboration tools also play nicely with other technologies. For example, in Microsoft Teams, you can work on documents that aren’t in Office 365.

Microsoft Office 365 and Workplace by Facebook each boast a lengthy list of third-party integrations, that continues to grow constantly. Additionally, both tools are changing daily, continuing to add features that enhance the user experience.


 

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The Executive's Guide to Choosing an Enterprise Collaboration Platform

Ready for a collaboration platform? Find out which one is best suited for your company’s needs — Microsoft or Workplace by Facebook.

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