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Every company is looking for a communications edge. The pandemic has produced new issues in worker productivity and collaboration that require sophisticated solutions.

Case in point, consider this conversation recently overheard on a Zoom, Teams, or WebEx meeting – I can’t remember which one…

“I know I saw a message about XYZ, but I can’t seem to find it.”

“It’s not in Slack…”

“It’s not in my email…”

“It’s not in a Trello Card…”

“It’s not in my text messages…”

“…and I can’t find it in…or Basecamp!”

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Collaboration platforms are meant to help businesses get more efficient but sometimes they can have the opposite effect.

It’s like having a kitchen full of high-end cooking utensils but you never took home economics.

Companies end up implementing a collection of collaboration platforms but never expect their employees to master any of them. Even though training is available from vendor companies, executive leaders are falling short on seeing their purchase through to full-blown practice implementation.

Before you know it, employees are only using the basic functions of each platform, cutting themselves and their companies short. Workers are confused on which tools to use, important messages are being buried in convoluted email chains, and CEOs are answering basic questions on Slack.

The simple communications issues you were trying to solve have now sprouted wings and there is seemingly no way to get them back in their cages.

Enter Collaboration Platforms as a Service (CPaaS)

I support leaders at some of the nation’s largest enterprise consulting companies, and they support some of the most well-known brands in the world. One of the buzziest new offerings is Collaboration Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solutions.

Some of the larger tech consulting companies have their own offerings that they can sell as a bundle.

Others offer CPaaS experts who can drive an ala cart implementation encompassing a smattering of their favorite platforms (or the ones that are easiest for them to integrate).

There is a strong business case for CPaaS – and a stronger appetite for dialing in team communications across the corporate world.

The “team collaborative applications” market is a $3.5 billion global opportunity, according to the research firm IDC. And it’s expected to grow by more than 70 percent over the next few years as the remote/hybrid approach continues to take over the working world.

This doesn’t mean that overloading your team with these types of ‘solutions’ is your best bet. Good leaders listening to their people can’t ignore the productivity issues being caused by disjointed collaboration platforms.

A Canadian consulting firm recently found that nearly half of professionals working remotely (49 percent), reported a high degree of exhaustion as a direct result of numerous daily video calls.

On average, employees at large companies are each sending more than 200 Slack messages per week, according to Time Is Ltd., a productivity-analytics company that taps into workplace programs.

Expecting employees to deftly manage emails, video calls, messaging boards, and task management platforms – AND actually get their work done – is a tall order.

A DIY CPaaS Approach

I walk companies through a framework of building out the approach that is right for them. Maybe this includes implementing only one collaboration platform…maybe it includes a couple.

The goal is to spend more time on the front end of the research process than it takes to actually integrate the tool.

Other helpful tips for companies taking more of a DIY angle:

–      Do your homework by sitting down with key leaders and making a list of your company’s top communications issues.

–      Build in time for post-implementation training on the new platform with one point of contact in the trainer role.

–      Have this point of contact test out a few free trials in stealth mode before deciding which platforms to use.

–      Create a communications plan that helps you define and enforce best practices.

–      Include communications expectations and tips in your monthly town halls.

–      Recognize your top communicators in team meetings to help produce a culture of healthy competition and mutual respect.

CPaaS might be the solution for you, but odds are getting back to the basics of stronger team communications will get you back on track.

Joe Szynkowski is the founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email for more information.