Choosing the Right Tools
There are any number of tools that can be used in a collaborative culture. When your team is looking at communication tools, make sure to consider the role that those tools with play in your work cadence.
Email, for example, is probably the most common communication tool and with it come expectations. Unless specified, a response is expected within a few hours, but is often extended to a day or two later. The expectation is that most people are getting many emails and the topic might require some consideration before responding.
Messaging tools, by contrast, have a faster response expectation. Most messages are not going to require a carefully-deliberated response, but are moreso geared towards quick questions and updates.
Web conferencing tools set the expectation that everyone will be present on a call at a set time.
Knowledge sharing tools, like an internal wiki, have no time expectation associated with them but are expected to become an internal authority that displays process and team expectations for different project types.
Review tools set the expectation that there will be iterations on an item. If feedback is a key part of your development lifecycle, then the adoption of a dedicated tool can indicate that priority to your team.
When you are thinking about what tools matter most to your team, think about how your team is unique and what values your team prioritizes. Getting the right tools in place is not a silver bullet, but using the wrong tools can certainly handicap your development.
Creating a Digital Thread Across Your Tools
At SmartBear, we use a few extensively. We have a global team so we hold daily standups on Zoom, which enables face-to-face video conferencing. Many of our team members have never actually met face-to-face, but we can still establish relationships and trust by being able to see one another, recognize facial expressions, and hear the tone of voice.
We also use Collaborator for peer reviewing code and documents. Collaborator helps our team build trust because we can see the work that others are doing. It also gives us an opportunity to learn from other people and for other people to learn from us.
For quick messaging, we use Slack and have a channel dedicated to our product. This enables our Support, Sales, Sales Engineers, Development, QA, Product, and Marketing to all communicate openly. It breaks down the functional silos and fosters collaboration.
Choosing the right tools can break down both communication and information silos. One of the biggest trends taking place in manufacturing right now is the idea of the “Digital Thread”. The concept is for there to be a complete record of communication throughout the manufacturing process. This allows the business to share information with the customer, as well as look internally for process improvement areas and establish benchmarks and KPIs.
Take a step back and look at your tools and workflows from a 30,000-foot view. There may be places where you can see significant productivity or cultural gains by adopting the right tool.
The best way to overcome objections to adopting a new tool is to actively listen to their concerns and use quality questions to uncover the real issue that they are opposed to it. Once you understand their concerns, you will be able to build a case that addresses those concerns. Plus, if you take the time to listen and build trust, they are more likely to trust you.
Next week, we will be capping off this series by talking about "Accelerating Feedback Loops". Stay tuned!
If you want to read the full ebook on "Building a Development Culture of Collaboration", you can download it here: