There’s a bit of an unsettling trend that I’m starting to pick up on more frequently these days. That trend is some organizations are wanting to switch collaboration vendors. I typically get at least 1-2 emails or phone calls on this every week and they typically start with “we deployed vendor XYZ and they are just not right for us.” To which I immediately reply with “why did you deploy them? Let’s go over your use cases and feature requirements.” Then…silence.
The fact that it’s so easy to deploy collaboration solutions today is a bit of a blessing and a curse. What I tell clients is that they should treat every deployment as if it were a full deployment (unless they can really do something in a very controlled group). In other words, just because something is free doesn’t mean you don’t need to put in your due diligence to understand why you need it and what it can do. In many situations these free platforms grow within the enterprise and can become THE platform used by the company, but not because it’s the best one but because it’s already there, and that is a huge mistake.
There are several issues that arise as a result of switching collaboration vendors mid-stream.
Getting employees to use a new tool isn’t easy and it takes time. So if you have been working on getting your employees to use something only to tell them that you are now going to be switching to something else then you are going to be in a tricky spot. I can virtually guarantee you that you will lose some of your employees during this transition.
All of the data and information that you have on one platform you are most likely going to want to move over to your new platform, but this is easier said than done. Keep in mind there are no collaboration standards that allow you to easily take data from one platform and move it to another one so this process won’t be easy and it will cost you. In fact, there’s a good chance that you will lose some of your data.
Typically the larger the organization the more time it takes to move from one platform to another. For the very larger enterprises it’s not uncommon for this process to take 18 months. One large financial institution told me they have been in this process for around 2 years! This is certainly something you want to avoid
Switching vendors requires extra resources. Not just the many hours that your team is going to have to spend to make this happen but also the money you are going to have to spend on services such as data migration, integrations, customizations, and a host of other things. Not only will it cost you money to make this switch but you will have also lost the money you invested into your existing platform.
Of course you will also have to deal with other issues such as employees having a bad association with collaboration (since now you will be forcing them to switch from one to another) and senior managers possibly wanting to kill off the project entirely. But, it’s better to make the course correction then to stay on the current path which is sure to lead you nowhere.
No organization is perfect and every single organization makes mistakes and runs into challenges. Some of them are around technology whereas others might be around strategy or culture. The point is that if your organization commits to making collaboration a core part of how it does business then failure shouldn’t really be an option here. The key is to stay adaptive and to deal with the challenges as they come your way because they absolutely will. Changing vendors is a bit tedious and can be scary but in the end it can prove to be a wise decision. Sometimes it even makes sense to take a step back and figure out where to start with collaboration initiatives before doing anything else.