The Disconnect in Collaboration Technology Investments

We’ve all been there: Management buys a new solution for remote collaboration and expects it to transform the way the company does business, but once the end users get a look at the product, nobody wants to use it.

All too often, businesses fail to capitalize on their collaboration solutions because of a disconnect between the purchasers and those who use the technology. Why does this happen, and – more importantly – how can you avoid it?

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]#Collaboration solutions fail because of a disconnect between the purchasers and users of #technology[/tweetthis]

Purchasers and users don’t always have the same interests

Purchasers of collaboration tools, primarily managers and executives, typically focus on price points, ROI and strategic objectives like increasing workplace productivity. No matter how relevant these decision points are for the purchaser, they may not align with the day-to-day needs of the technology user. Without getting upfront feedback from their user base, executives may invest in a product that provides a solution for a problem that does not exist or is incompatible with what users need. It is the user’s needs that will ultimately determine whether collaboration technology is effective or appropriate, or whether it will just add an unneeded layer of complexity to their work process.

Show me, don’t tell me

Management’s adoption of a collaboration tool can go a long way towards encouraging user buy-in. Employees will be more open to adopting new technology if they see it providing value for their higher-ups, especially if business leaders consistently reinforce the day-to-day values and business purposes for using a solution. The by-product of management using the same collaboration solutions as their employees is an increased understanding of their employees’ daily processes, which can lead to further collaboration.

Don’t forget to train your users

Users need to be feel they’re being set up to successfully use a new solution. If they don’t know how to use something and don’t have the right resources or support, they’re more likely to give up. Managers should take the time to make sure that users not only learn how the product works, but also why they should use it – it may help save them time, reduce busywork or have more effective meetings.

Some users may catch on faster than others, which why it’s important for organizations to offer multiple formats of training (such as documentation, live classes, or videos) to appeal to the different learning styles and skill sets of their user base. As users become more comfortable with the new technology, they will be more likely to use it, and will soon start to see the benefits of greater productivity and workplace efficiency.

Believing in the benefits

What if, despite a company’s best efforts, users still resist using collaborative technology? Maybe some fear they’ll be thought of as unprofessional if they hold a video conference from home or they lack confidence in their ability to use the tool’s features. Some of these fears can be alleviated with time and exposure to collaborative tools. For example, the more mobile meetings a user attends, the more comfortable they will become being seen on camera or setting up and managing a remote conference. For those who worry about perceptions about teleworking, the evidence is growing that working outside of the office actually produces more efficient employees. Assure your employees their work product is what is of value, not their physical attendance in the office.

Investing in collaboration technology should be a true collaboration from the outset, meaning executives and employees need to be on the same page about what the solution is, why it’s being implemented, and what it will do for the organization. Beyond that, organizations need to make a conscious effort to implement these technologies from the top down. Doing so will ensure successful implementation, and provide your business with the benefits collaborative technology has to offer.

 

Want to learn more about attitudes toward teleworking that may get in the way of collaborative technology implementation? Check out this post about teleworking stereotypes.