TMI and Too Much Collaboration — When More Tools Are Less Effective

April 10, 2017

For businesses looking to improve their operations, there's currently a lot of focus on collaboration applications and services. But even the best digital collaboration tools might not actually be the best tool for you.

The Wall Street Journal has published and re-posted Jay Greene's article about the diminishing returns of collaboration tools. Titled online, "Beware Collaboration-Tool Overload," Greene's report asks some valuable questions about software designed for sharing. From startups to tech giants, there are a host of apps that support chat sites, video conferencing, and cooperative document editing.

What about the end-users? Greene notes that the research shows workers often find it hard to get on board for new tools. If the app doesn't offer a distinct benefit for what they are trying to accomplish, then it's just one more chore to take care of. Savvy workplace managers are quick to observe and respond to this paradigm. They have moved to simplify the toolsets, so likewise, the tool providers are adapting.

Greene takes an example from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. The company provided a plethora of tools in effort to maximize efficiency. However, the employees quickly recognized that not everyone in the company was using every single tool provided. But the entire team was using email. This relative reliability meant that email became the de facto collaboration tool. And this quickly turned into email overload. The agency's decision was to prune back the diversified toolset. By focusing personnel's attention on a single useful app, they were able to move forward.

Craig Le Clair, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., is another source that Greene quotes in his insightful write-up. Le Clair highlights how each new tool requires switching to a new window and new interface conventions. Each new tool requires new login credentials. Each new tool might be intended for specialized purposes, but even that becomes more mental overhead which the end-user must manage.

For smaller companies, is this lesson relevant? You might be able to get better results than any collaboration software or email by simply walking across the room to a colleague.

But while dynamic collaboration on documents might not be a priority, there are still ways that a simplified toolset can bring your business excellent returns on efficiency. A unified business suite for your accounting, ERP, and CRM tasks can eliminate the headaches from spreadsheet proliferation and poor software integration. It's even better when that business suite runs smoothly on the PCs in the office and the iPads in the warehouse.

aACE 5 is a cross-platform business operations solution that helps you take the WSJ's lesson about simplified software right into the heart of your company. From quote-to-cash, aACE can streamline your workflows, maximize your efficiencies, and accelerate your business velocity.

"Any SME who wants tight control, instant up-to-date information over all aspects of their business without the need to plough through acres of data, and optimal automation of all sales and functions, irrespective of Mac or Windows platforms. In short, I have no hesitation in fully recommending aACE as a truly great enterprise solution. We are truly proud to be part of the aACE family." — Peter Osborne, CEO, Special EFX Ltd.

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