Choosing the Right Internal Communication Tool for Your Organization
A common question that we often get is on choosing the best Office 365 tool for corporate internal communication.
The answer is not that simple; several factors play different roles in the evaluation and selection process. By the way, Microsoft Outlook is not a consideration due to its limited capabilities.
The short paragraphs below attempt to briefly outline the basic steps you may take to ensure a better decision.
The basic action plan entails the following: clarify your communication objectives, evaluate the applicable tools, and ensure successful adoption of the chosen tool.
1. Clarify your objectives
What would you want your communication initiative to achieve?
From the multitude of common reasons why a communication tool is needed in an organization, three activities stand out: collaborating, networking, and broadcasting.
Do you need to be bringing team members together for the purpose of collaborating on projects?
Does your organization needs a platform where employees from every department can network, share information, and hold discussions?
Or, do you need a space where you can broadcast company news, updates, and announcements?
Once you determine exactly what you would like to achieve, take the time to understand the capabilities of each applicable tool in the Office 365 family.
2. Evaluate applicable tools
Making a decision is easier when enough information has been gathered. Make effort to take a look into each application that promises to deliver what you need. Below are some highlights.A. Collaborating
The instant messaging capabilities in Microsoft Teams give you the opportunity to engage in conversations and collaborate with your team members in real time. The application is ideal for one-on-one exchanges and teams aiming to complete projects.B. Networking
The social network features in Yammer helps you connect and contribute ideas to different topics. The networking capabilities give employees ways to engage with each other, build rapport, discover each other's skills, and nurture a desired corporate culture. Also, with just a few clicks, you can broadcast your message to your entire organization across departments.C. Broadcasting
In addition to serving advanced document management needs, SharePoint enables easy broadcasting to audiences of all sizes.
From the SharePoint home page in Office 365, the News section aggregates and displays all articles intended for some or all employees. Every team site in your organization can be a source of the content. In addition, every team site has its own News web part that may display content tailored to its audience.
If you need a solution that provides more flexibility and customization opportunities, use a Communication Site or a Publishing Site instead. If the need for frequent communication is considerable in your organization, creating a site dedicated to the function is a better approach.
SharePoint comes with a ready-to-deploy Communication Site template that can save you a lot of time.
If you need a more advanced set of features, a Publishing Site template will do. A Publishing Site gives you all the customization capabilities you would get from SharePoint. But, since it's not an out-of-the-box solution, some work from your development team is needed.
To achieve a communication goal, implementing a tool is not enough; employees have to actually use it.
3. Ensure successful adoption
In many instances, failure to adopt an application is mistaken with poor performance of the tool itself. Often, when end-users happen not to use the application extensively enough to produce better results, the capabilities of the digital tool are questioned.
Yes, a tool may have limitations. But, usually, the lack of strategy for successful adoption is the culprit. It is therefore essential that sufficient efforts are deployed to ensure that everyone in the company actually uses the application.
The 3 action steps below need to constitute your strategy:
- Automate help and support to the end-users (VisualSP has proven to be a very effective tool for the job);
- Run regular daily tips campaigns (go here to watch a short course on how to run these campaigns successfully);
- And reward early adopters (the same short course shares insight on how to properly use event tickets, shopping vouchers, gift cards, etc.).
Giving end-users the ability to help themselves at every moment of need; providing regular bite-sized training materials, and driving behavior change have always increased and sustained the usage of an application.
4. Teams, Yammer, or SharePoint!
Although not comprehensive, these highlights will help you to get started. But, it is always a good idea to explore applications thoroughly to ensure that your choice is well informed.
In summary, for communication on projects, consider Microsoft Teams; for employees networking and discussions, Yammer will do; and for broadcasting updates, SharePoint is the right choice.
About the Author:
Asif Rehmani has been a SharePoint Trainer, Consultant, Author, and a SharePoint Server MVP since 2007. He’s the founder of VisualSP Help System.
VisualSP provides just-in-time learning and help through proprietary help system software. Also, the website hosts a variety of training videos authored by renowned experts in the industry.
Over the years, Asif has provided SharePoint consulting and training to major clients such as Department of Defense, NASA, Hersheys, Toshiba, State Farm, Federal Home Loan Bank, US Army and many more.