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6 Things To Look For When Choosing An Online Collaboration Tool

By | Published on | 6 min read
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Your team manages to get work across the finish line—but you’ll admit that the process feels more like a frantic sprint than a well-practiced relay race. 

People aren’t sure who’s doing what, deadlines slip by, and important conversations are lost or siloed in random email threads and direct messages.

You know that work could happen more efficiently. And, especially now that some of your team members are sticking with remote work, you’re eager for a way to bring some much-needed order to the chaos of your workload. 

Cue the hallelujah chorus, because that’s where an online collaboration tool comes in. 

Do You Really Need Another Tool?

Think of an online collaboration tool as a digital home for all of your team’s work. You can manage and track projects and tasks, communicate in a single place, and streamline all of your processes. 

But, if you or your team are rolling your eyes at the idea of implementing yet another piece of software, we can’t blame you. Tool fatigue is real, with 69% of workers saying they waste up to 32 days per year navigating all of their workplace apps. 

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Technology itself won’t solve your team’s problems. The key is to choose a tool that meets a need and then intentionally roll it out. When you’re mindful about selecting and implementing the right solution, you and your team can experience the following benefits: 

  • Centralized communication: Everything from status updates to questions can live in one place, rather than being scattered through endless email threads, instant messages, meeting summaries, and other documents.
  • Increased transparency: Because conversations and project work are centralized, your entire team can instantly get the information they need.
  • Greater accountability: Collaboration tools often include task assignments, deadlines, and even notifications about upcoming due dates, which fosters a greater sense of accountability.
  • Easy access: Now that a hybrid work model has become more prevalent, this tool allows team members to get the information and materials they need from wherever they’re working—without having to email themselves files or ask in-office colleagues to send them something.
  • Boosted productivity:All of the above benefits lead to greater output and efficiency on your team. When over 50% of workers say that outdated technology has a moderate effect on their productivity, the right tools empower them to get their best work done.

What Should You Look For In A Collaboration Tool? 

Finding the right app or tool for your team offers a lot of advantages. But, what exactly constitutes the “right” tool? A quick search on Capterra for “collaboration software” yields over 900 results, so there’s no doubt that you have tons of options at your fingertips. 

Ready to separate the wheat from the chaff? Look for the following things as you evaluate your choices, so you can land on a tool that makes your team’s work easier—rather than adding more frustration. 

1. Cost

When it comes to figuring out which tools might be a fit for you, money is important criteria to consider. How much are you willing and able to spend on a collaboration tool?

Some solutions are free while others have pricing plans well into the thousands. Certain tools have a price per month or year, while others price per user. Before you start exploring different platforms, ask yourself:

  • How many people will actively use the tool? 
  • What’s your maximum monthly spend for this tool? 

Those two questions will help you comb through your choices with a realistic grasp on the money side of things. 

2. Customization

Teams work differently, which means there isn’t one solution that will work flawlessly for everybody. That’s why it’s important to look for a tool that’s customizable—not just for your team as a whole, but for individual team members.

For example, one person might prefer to look at tasks in a calendar view while another team member works best with a spreadsheet. Or, perhaps you need different access levels for various team members.

Search for a tool that’s highly customizable so your team can use the tool in a way that works best for them. That’ll help you make the most of the solution, without feeling like you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. 

3. Integrations

Your goal is to streamline and centralize your team’s work and conversations. But even so, this probably won’t be the only tool you’re using. 

Connect with your team to understand what tools are used on a daily basis. From Slack to Google Drive, there are probably a number of apps that you won’t need or even want to eliminate. Jot those down on a list.

Now, as you look at collaboration tools, look for ones that integrate with the apps on your must-have list. Those integrations will make your work far more seamless, without you needing to eliminate or duplicate solutions that your team relies heavily on. 

4. Automations

In an ideal world, your team would be able to dedicate the majority of their time and energy to solving problems, brainstorming ideas, and exceeding their goals. Yet, mindless and mundane tasks can easily monopolize their working hours

The good news is that a collaboration tool that has workflow automations can take repetitive tasks off of your team’s plate.

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Whether it’s automatically creating a project timeline when somebody fills out a form or triggering a team email when a task is checked off, these types of actions eliminate busy work, reduce the potential for error, and keep your whole team moving forward. 

5. Security

Especially in industries that frequently deal with sensitive information, security needs to be high on your list of must-have features.

Even if your team doesn’t work with highly-confidential details, you still want to know that things like your goals, projects, and future plans don’t get hacked, compromised, or leaked into the wrong hands. 

Make sure you do your research, read reviews, and ask questions about what security measures a collaboration tool has in place. While nothing is completely bulletproof, doing your due diligence will help you find a system that gives you some confidence and peace of mind. 

6. Ease Of Use

Despite the fact that 44% of employees say that change makes them more productive at work, a whopping 81% say that they prefer their roles and responsibilities stay the same. That could mean that they’ll groan or even push back against needing to learn a new system for getting their work done. 

If you want employees to actually use the tool, you need to look for one that’s easy for them to get up to speed with. Every new app has a bit of a learning curve, but you can ease that burden by looking for one that’s as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. 

It’s also worth finding out about a tool’s customer support services and what resources they have available so that you can reduce friction and help your team understand exactly how to make the most of the tool you choose. 

Turn Your Team’s Work Into A Well-Practiced Relay Race (Rather Than A Frantic Sprint)

A tool alone won’t overhaul the way your team gets work across the finish line—all of the basic building blocks like trust, respect, and communication need to be there first. 

But, having the right technology on your side can increase transparency, centralize communication, and make collaboration a lot less stressful. If you’re looking for a tool that checks all of the boxes on this list (and can grow as your team grows), Trello has you covered. 

Start your free trial so that you and your team can spend less time tracking down information and more time on the work that matters.


Good or bad, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!

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