3 reasons why users move away from your collaboration platform to email

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Best-in-class business project managers continuously seek opportunities to deliver better projects: quicker, leaner and with less risk. Many of them experiment with online project, collaboration and task management tools, as an alternative to traditional collaboration with e-mail and excel. However, new challenges arise when using those tools in a business context, with many different stakeholders involved.

Based on our own experiences and those of our peers, we list the most important reasons why users and information always move away from the platform to email.

 

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1. They try to beat email (reality = you can’t …)

“If you can’t beat it, join it!” Collaboration platforms are doing everything to get their users on the platform. They send out ‘robot emails’ with links to access the platform with no further information provided. Why should you? Especially when you’re a ‘not so tech savvy’ user …

No need to convince people that although email is horrible as a management platform, it remains extremely powerful as a communication platform. Hence, a collaboration solution should exploit email as much as possible to connect their users with the platform and to lower all possible barriers.

Some examples of how a collaboration platform can exploit email and lower barriers:

  • Provide as much content as possible in notification emails, making it almost unnecessary to access the platform to know what the email is all about and what action is required.
  • Embed screenshots into notification messages. People love them!
  • Consolidate updates incomprehensible messages and only send them out when relevant.
  • Allow users to comment on email notifications by simply replying. Why would you force a user to go to the platform if they can get the job done with a simple reply?
  • Allow occasional users, guests or visitors to logon by token provided in the notification message. Hence, no username or password can be forgotten.

When evaluating an online solution to support you in ‘making work happen’, ask the following questions:

  1. How intuitive are the notification e-mails?
  2. How much configuration is required in order to make sure that notifications are only being sent out when relevant?

 

2. They are hard to get everybody on board (because they have been conceived with hardcore users in mind)

How many persons are involved in a business project? 3, 10, 20? Often, there are even more stakeholders involved. Many more than you initially imagined. Many more than just the core team. Other parties play a key role in the project:

  • senior business management
  • key users and business process owners
  • external consultants/lawyers
  • infrastructure
  • consultants supporting 3rd party applications that have to be integrated
  • subject matter experts
  • others

What’s the use of a platform that only part of the team has access to? The main goal of a project management and collaboration tool should be to reduce friction, not to create more friction … and frustration.

When evaluating an online solution to support you in ‘making work happen’, ask the following questions:

  1. How easy is it to onboard new users without additional training or guidance? Is it as easy as sending out an e-mail?
  2. Is the platform easy and intuitive enough to collaborate with occasional and external users?
  3. Are you paying additional subscriptions for occasional or external users? You shouldn’t!

 

3. They lack the integration between people, task and context (because they have been developed by and for developers)

The majority of ‘online project management tools’ have been created by and for software developers. Unlike business teams, software developers typically work in an abstract, task-oriented and closed environment. They are great to integrate people and tasks.

Delivering work in a business context different than delivering software development. While focusing on the technical part only, you will never be able to deliver a successful project. A business transformation initiative typically increases the need to:

  • orchestrate change for the many stakeholders involved
  • explain ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ in addition to ‘what?’
  • split project objectives in relevant and ‘easy-to-understand’ action plans
  • boost the flow of information between all parties involved

A project collaboration platform should be much more than just a task registration system. It should engage all persons involved to ‘get the job done’. For that purpose, a project management tool for a business context should be extremely intuitive, allowing all users involved to share and update information. Too many abstract fields increase the barriers to communication.

 

When evaluating an online solution to support you in ‘making work happen’, ask the following questions:

  1. How much configuration do I need to do in order to align the platform with the requirements for a business context?
  2. Does the solution permit embedding tasks into their context?

 

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