Are you ready to streamline communication, improve efficiency, and have more committed team members?
Then it might be time to consider social software.
It’s 2018, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard about it by now. Also known as team collaboration software, social software can make your work life easier, acting as a hub for all internal communication.
The question is, are you ready for that next digital step?
Let’s first take a look at what social software is, what essential features it offers, and then how to go about choosing the right solution for your business.
What is Social Software?
Not to be confused with social media marketing software, at its most basic, Techopedia defines social or team collaboration software as a “category of software systems that primarily functions to allow user collaboration and communication.”
G2Crowd goes further, explaining:
Collaboration [or social] software allows multiple users to stay connected and work together on projects from any location on nearly any connected device. With team collaboration software, team members are able to create workspaces that are viewable and accessible by all other users, regardless of their physical location.
Some typical features include:
- Instant messaging
- Video conferencing
- Screen sharing
- Discussion forums
- Shared calendars
- Document management
These are either built directly into the software or are integrated via other applications.
3 Essential Features
Now that you know what social software is, it’s important to ensure the tools you’re considering offer the following three key features.
A collaborative workspace will help team members share knowledge, ideas & documents, create events, organize projects, and give and gather feedback.
Instant communication will allow users to easily launch video chats, send files, brainstorm ideas, ask questions, make decisions, and even send GIFS to have a little fun.
Newsfeeds will ensure every co-worker is on top of new and relevant information as it happens, meaning they’re ready to take action when it matters most.
Choosing the Right Tool for You
In the past five years alone, the software industry has exploded. There are thousands of apps, tools, and services for virtually anything and everything. From project management tools and social intranet to Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) and chat apps like Slack, the myriad options are great, but it makes the decision process much more difficult.
So how do you decide which solution best fits your business? To get started, go through the following five steps.
1. Establish desired functionality.
Decide what functionality is important. In order to do this, ask yourself the following questions:
How big is my company? And how many people will be involved?
What are points of potential improvement?
What functionality would be needed to improve this?
Are there any tools that would require interaction or integration?
How important is security? What are the requirements a tool needs to meet?
A smaller company, for example, might opt for a tool like Slack, whereas a bigger company might choose an ESN. The areas in which your company is lacking will also help you determine what pain points a specific solution’s features can solve.
2. Determine budget.
How much money is being allocated for this software? This will help you shorten your list quickly, as price tags for these tools vary greatly. Remember that price doesn’t always necessarily reflect to a better quality. More often than not, a higher price tag may relate to more functionality. In such cases, it’s important to look back at step one and determine what you really need.
3. Do a comparison.
Now that you know the basic functionality you want and the money you have to work with, use comparison websites like GetApp to search for software that matches your criteria.
4. Narrow down your list.
Once you’ve used online comparison tools to narrow down your search, get your final list to three tools, then it’s on to the last step!
5. Test your chosen tools.
Contact the vendors directly to get a demo and ask questions specific to your business and needs. Asking the same questions to each vendor will help you better compare one against another when making a final decision.
Remember, choosing the best social software is a difficult and challenging task. It’s not something you can just decide overnight. Implementing social software is part of change management, it’s something that has to fit and integrate with your company culture, operations, and structure.
Therefore, take your time when making a decision. You don’t want to dive into a new solution and go through the integration process only to find out it’s not a fit!