In a global study on connected enterprises, Dimension Data found that only four percent of companies viewed return on investment as the main measure of success for collaboration technologies, while 25 percent of IT departments measure success of collaboration software in terms of ease of implementation.

Collaboration tools tout productivity gains as a no-brainer, and most of us take it for granted that our tools help our teams. But are you actually measuring whether your tools are helping or hurting?

Instead of measuring effectiveness by looking at success of implementation, which is backward-facing at best, we need to look forward, to the user experience and its ultimate effect on revenue.

1. Do you have a training program in place?

First things first: no matter what collaboration software you’re using, if there’s no consistent onboarding process for new technology (or new people to the technology, as in new hires), your employees are wasting time. To alleviate IT help desk tickets, establish a well thought-out training for your team to explain the ins and outs of your new software. It’s a good idea to provide both a training video and slide deck as well as a quick reference guide with enough detail to train video-resistant employees.

2. Are you using the right collaboration tool for the right purpose?

All collaboration tools are not created equal. Your audioconferencing tool may not be able to handle the load of videoconferencing add-ons, and your chat systems may not work when employees are operating in vastly differing time zones. Assess where, when and how your employees are communicating, and look at whether the collaboration tool you’re using was designed to handle that type of task.

3. How many external applications are your employees using?

Shadow IT is pervasive (not to mention costly), and some enterprises are adapting by allowing for consumer-grade applications at the individual and department level. While this may work for some companies, it poses a real security and productivity threat. How much time is your IT team wasting trying to learn how to fix bugs in user-downloaded applications?

Take a moment to survey some of your key user types, taking care to get feedback from your three categories of users:

  • C-suite and upper management
  • Middle-management and information workers
  • On-the-ground workers, field representatives, etc.

Identify how many apps each level of user is implementing, and find out why they prefer these applications to the company-provided and approved ones. The feedback on app usage will vary dramatically between user types, and themes between these will help identify where you’re having some productivity drag.

Find out everything you can do with our favorite collaboration tool, MiCollab >

4. Keep track of your IT requests.

This feeds off tracking external application usage: how much time is your IT team spending each day on requests for non-company-approved applications? How many requests are you getting about your company-approved ones? Get some hard numbers from your help desk tickets to determine whether your current collaboration system – or the range of consumer-grade applications your team are using – are costing your company.

5. Do your company’s collaboration tools take into account users outside your company?

One huge reason departments look outside the company for consumer-level collaboration tools is that many of their collaborations take place with external vendors or customers. Make sure your collaboration tools are designed to work with external parties! It’s important to find a collaboration tool that allows bridges for external users, like MiCollab, to keep everyone on the same page.  

If your team works closely with external actors on a regular basis (try to get an estimate of time, if you can) it may also makes sense to see if your collaboration tool can integrate with a consumer collaboration tool, like Skype for Business.

Check out our MiTeam workstream collaboration software >

6. Bring it back to revenue.

Linking the technology your team uses with revenue sounds complicated, and sometimes it can be. But for back of the envelope calculations, you can boil it down to a few key factors:

  • What is your average office worker’s hourly cost to your business? In other words, how much is their time worth in real dollars?
  • How much time is your collaboration system saving/costing an employee in a given day?
  • Multiply the hourly cost by the time saved per day (in hours) and scale that back up to yearly figures.

For example, the average annual loss for companies with a poor mobile collaboration strategy is $36 million. We break down the numbers in this infographic on cutting costs and boosting profits with team collaboration.

7. Do you have a unified communications strategy in place?

With nearly 40 percent of businesses lacking a unified communications strategy, it’s not surprising so few attempt to connect their collaboration technologies back to ROI.

Having a strategy for unified communications helps shave off unproductive activities (e.g. does adding a consumer-level file sharing application fit the unified communication strategy for data security for a multinational enterprise?) and keep your team running efficiently. It also gives you a benchmark from which to make future decisions. Once you’ve created a strategy, year over year you can tweak and compare decisions, to help narrow down the real life impact of your tech.

Bottom line

In today’s mobile workforce, collaboration technologies are a given. But that doesn’t mean that their impact on your company should be. With a unified communications strategy in place and hard numbers to support you, you will be able to quantify whether your collaboration tools are helping your business, or costing you time and money.

Looking for a few more ways to streamline your communications and make your teams run smoother? Check out our upcoming webinar, “Collaborate Better: The Role of Technology in Successful Teams.”

Lisa Quattrini

Manager, UCaaS Solutions Marketing

Lisa Quattrini is a marketing professional with experience working in brand voice and presence, content marketing, digital marketing and B2B marketing.

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