The average enterprise is now using more than 774 distinct cloud applications at any given time, according to research by Elastica. Furthermore, data sent to file sharing and online collaboration platform now accounts for 63% of all data uploaded to the cloud.
The growth in cloud adoption is great for organisations, not least because improved collaboration between employees will continue to be one of the main benefits of the ongoing move away from on-premise systems. However, greater usage and visibility for the cloud also brings new challenges - with a large and growing number of competing products on the market, it can be difficult for users to select the right tool for their needs.
If you're looking to select an online collaboration tool, here are a few points that can be considered best practice. They apply whether you're seeking a new collaboration platform to support a new project, a growing team or the entire extended enterprise.
For more on how to select the right tool, read our free guide Online collaboration tools: 10 questions to ask a supplier.
Check out the functionality, flexibility and scalability of each platform
You'll probably have a specific idea of how you want to deploy online collaboration to start with, but it's important to consider other uses that could emerge in the future. For this reason, you need a collaboration tool with functionality that can easily be repurposed for different needs.
For example, you might be looking for online collaboration software to solve a short-term project management problem, improving collaboration and communication between internal users and clients. However, think about which of your shortlisted options could also meet a different business need in future - and remove the need to spend more money on another tool.
Potential applications of a collaboration platform with this kind of flexibility include a tender management space to communicate with potential suppliers and a client portal or extranet, for involving partners and customers in service design.
A collaboration platform's suitability as a tool for different purposes is partly determined by how scalable it is - i.e. how straightforward is it to add new users and extend the reach of the tool when necessary. You need to find a provider that makes it quick and simple to add (and remove) new users, as well as supporting the creation of multiple workspaces with different functionality.
Make sure the pricing plan works for you
If you're going to maximise the impact of online collaboration by finding a tool that can be put to different uses, you have to be prepared for the number of users to fluctuate. This is why finding the right pricing structure is crucial.
Too often, cloud vendors offer inflexible user licence bands designed to extract the highest possible monthly revenue from customers. If you have 143 users, you shouldn't have to pay for 200 - but unfortunately this is the scenario facing many organisations who sign up for a service without a full understanding of the pricing model.
Instead, seek out a cloud provider that charges on a genuine pay-as-you-use basis. For more about pricing in the cloud, read our recent post by guest blogger Ian Moyse of Eurocloud UK.
Try before you buy
Any cloud collaboration tool worth its salt will offer prospective users a free trial, so make sure you take up the offer. Use the trial to assess whether your shortlisted tools contain the functions you need, but also whether you're likely to get the necessary level of support from the provider.
Kahootz is available on a free 30-day trial and it's easy to sign up here - why not make our online collaboration tool part of your selection process?