The buyer’s guide to collaboration software
Selecting collaboration software for your organization can feel overwhelming, with a bunch of spec sheets to pore over and budgetary constraints to keep in mind throughout the process. When picking between these options, the best route is usually to evaluate each one holistically.
Why the holistic approach is the best way to buy collaboration software
That means looking beyond how the solutions compare on functionality alone. You’ll also want to scrutinize these five characteristics:
- Usability: Is there a steep learning curve? How easy will it be for team members to buy into a completely new collaboration suite?
- Pricing: Is a free trial available? Will I be billed annually or monthly? How flexible are the plans?
- Ecosystem: Can the platform in question be paired with the tools you already rely on, or will you have to craft complicated new workflows?
- Security: How is data encryption implemented? What access controls are available to administrators to manage access to meetings?
- Hosting: Are they situated on-premises or in the cloud? What support services and quality assurance measures can customers expect from the provider?
This multifaceted approach helps avoid the most common pitfalls in buying collaboration software and gives you the best possible fit across all six major selection criteria. Let’s look at each of them in more detail, in the context of a major problem that holistic evaluation helps solve:
Functionality: Choosing the wrong collaboration solution for your requirements
Even if you select something that looks good on paper, it might not provide exactly what your teams need. For example, in 2018 FlexJobs estimated that 3 percent of the U.S. workforce worked from home at least half the time. Accordingly, buying a state-of-the-art on-site private branch exchange phone system would likely provide less value to your remote and mobile teams than a more flexible, scalable solution with built-in video conferencing and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling.
Your collaboration software should be tailor-made to your requirements. If you work with colleagues and clients across multiple locations and time zones, make sure you have a mobile collaboration platform that simplifies the process for connecting them, no matter where they are or which devices they’re currently using.
Usability: Bogging teams down with too many features
A Campaign Monitor survey of 500 SMBs found that 42 percent of respondents felt overwhelmed by the number and implementation of features in their purchased business software and wished they could pick only the tools they really needed. “One click” simplicity was also widely desired.
Finding a more intuitive solution from the start can eliminate usability hassles, as well as lower total cost of ownership by reducing the number of necessary training sessions to get everyone comfortable with new tools. In Cisco Webex, you have one platform for all of your meetings. Plus, you can reliably search your messages, calls, files, drawings, and calendar from the same place.
Pricing: Not planning for long-term issues and costs
The same study revealed widespread dissatisfaction with solutions that required excessive, expensive custom work from consultants and developers before they would even work as intended. Common issues such as security flaws, complex interfaces, and inadequate application integrations can contribute to the need for never-ending tinkering that more than offsets a low upfront price.
Focus on finding a solution that’s ready to use right away and offers flexible subscription plans. That way, your team can spend less time dealing with technical hiccups or tacking on additional features that were originally left off. Look for a free trial so that you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Ecosystem: Having to start from scratch
Getting employees to use the collaboration software you’ve selected isn’t always easy, especially if they have existing workflows that more or less fit their needs. The switchover to a different solution may be harder if the new platform doesn’t integrate well with tools your teams already use.
Good news: Software like Cisco Webex integrates perfectly with common favorites, for everything from document management to social media strategy. Custom integrations provide additional options for ensuring your work flows smoothly across multiple apps.
Security: Overlooking vulnerabilities in web conferencing systems
Web conferencing software is now a staple of modern collaboration, providing a convenient way for people to meet even if they’re not physically together. There are some potentially significant cybersecurity risks, however, including:
- Stolen meeting PINs.
- Phishing campaigns based on vanity URLs.
- Interception of unencrypted communications.
Mitigating these risks requires a platform with multi-layered security that carefully manages access, implements encryption, and protects underlying physical infrastructure, too. Don’t settle for something unsafe—the costs of data breaches routinely run into the millions of dollars, according to the Ponemon Institute.
Hosting: Missing out on substantial cost savings
Many essential applications have moved to the cloud. SMBs and enterprises have been able to save billions by harnessing the power of software and infrastructure instead of managing their own IT assets. Plus, they get access to flexible, scalable features, such as the virtual workspaces of Webex Teams.
Sticking with on-premises deployments is feasible in some situations, but many companies stand to benefit from upgrading to cloud-based solutions. Cloud collaboration software is both cost-effective and easy to use.
Building better collaboration with intuitive software
Buying collaboration software requires careful consideration of many attributes. Cisco Webex meets all of these important criteria, along with your teams’ high expectations for collaboration tools they can rely on all the time. It’s ideal for today’s distributed organizations, combining capabilities such as crystal-clear video calling, group messaging, file sharing, and much more into one convenient platform. Try Cisco Webex for free!
Jun 27, 2019 — Mark Miller
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