The technology available today makes it possible to work from anywhere with relative ease. However, many start-ups and companies that have been forced to shift to a remote model are discovering the challenges of choosing the right tools. With so many options, it can be challenging to find the right fit.
There are various metrics to consider when choosing the best tools to support your remote business and keep your team engaged. Here are some helpful tips to guide the decision-making process.
Identify the Core Needs
Before you determine which tools are right for your business, assess your core needs. There will be endless distractions and unique programs that offer to solve a problem for you during your research. However, it’s best to overcome the “shiny object syndrome” and focus on your organization’s core needs. If those needs change or expand over time, then you can come back and look at the other options.
For many companies and remote workers, the core needs will likely be project management and communications. Under that umbrella, your business could require a platform for video meetings, a time-tracking application, and a tool for sending important documents from anywhere.
Narrowing down and clarifying your core needs will help keep you focused as you search for business tools.
Research the Top Recommendations
Once you’ve clarified your needs, save some time and energy by looking at the top recommendations online. Keep an eye out for the names that are repeated again and again. For example, Slack is often the go-to program for instant messaging within teams, eFax is the top recommendation for online faxing, and Asana is an industry leader in project management.
You’ll discover that there are endless software options for basic business functions. By honing in on the top market contenders, you can simplify the decision-making process by using social proof as a guide.
Evaluate the Budget
A key part of financial management for businesses is knowing when to spend and when to save. When it comes to tools, it’s about knowing when to use a free option and when to pay for the premium version.
For example, Zoom offers free team meetings that last 40-minutes when more than three people are logged on. If you tend to have short, one-on-one sessions, use the free platform. However, if you have frequent team meetings that could extend beyond the maximum time allotted, pay for the upgrade instead of logging off and logging back on, wasting everyone’s time.
Know that the most expensive option isn’t always necessary for your company. It’s also important to look at the scaling options for when your needs evolve.
Consider the Learning Curve
Another important consideration, especially when working with a remote team, is the learning curve of the technology you’re implementing. Some platforms will be inherently complex because of the breadth of what they cover. However, the more intuitive and straightforward the program is to use, the better your team will perform.
To evaluate the learning curve before committing to new technology, use a trial period to play around and test the system. Give your team a chance to explore and highlight any issues they foresee based on their roles.
In our remote world, it’s important to find technology that doesn’t operate in a silo. While the tools you use may not seamlessly interact with one another, they should at least communicate with minimal interference.
Consider how people used to share forms and documents. Someone would send a form via email. The recipient would have to print it to fill it out. They’d then have to either fax it or scan it back to the sender, who would then print the completed document. You can now receive a form via email, fill it out on the web, and send it back with the click of a button either through email, online fax, or by dropping it on a shared folder.
Look for tools that integrate with other tools or at least simplify cross-platform communication.
Look at the Ongoing Support Options
Another important consideration is the ongoing support options. Look for tools that have responsive support experts to help mitigate downtime when an error occurs.
It’s also worth looking at their available resources and help centers. Many platforms have open access to their tutorials and training videos to reference as needed. Don’t hesitate to seek online reviews about their customer support options.
Consider Security and Accessibility
Perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing certain technologies and programs is the security and accessibility components. As sensitive information may be transmitted over public networks and with less in-house supervision, you need to know that it’s secure.
Accessibility plays a key role in security, as well. How can your team access the information they need in the platform without seeing sensitive information that doesn’t pertain to them?
Readdress as Needed
Keep in mind that choosing a specific tool for your company isn’t a lifelong commitment. While there may be cost implications to reconsidering, it’s better to re-evaluate and adapt than stick with a tool that doesn’t work.
Take your time in choosing the tools for your remote work efforts, and schedule evaluation periods to see if they continue to have merit.