Email is one of, if not the most popular tools for business communication. More than the cell phone, fax or postal mail. Why? It’s pretty fast, convenient, relatively “free” and you have a record of what was sent and received.
The problem with email is, it’s not always great for collaboration or managing communication between teams and projects. The loads of spam you get don’t help.
If you’ve been emailing back and forth for weeks and a new team member comes on the scene how do they easily get up to speed on what is and what is not happening?
With email it’s pretty impossible.
The Collaborate.com blog writes So am I in enough pain to abandon e-mail for a Web 2.0 PM tool? Probably not, but I am getting there. The first step is to start using one of these tools for a small project with a few people and see if you have to radically modify your behaviors and how uncomfortable this might be. If it is not too bad you might want to switch over to one of these tools because of the advantages in functionality it provides. However, to get over the 9x problem, it will have to be low cost, easy to use, try-before-you buy, secure, and very easy to invite colleagues or project team members into. It should provide a persistent space for project team documents and discussions and ideally it would provide me with the “presence” and status of all the project team members.
In this post, do read the full post, the author makes the case for the benefits of email and the case for other options.
In the end, what do we use – email. Sure wikis are a nice touch and do enhance collaboration, but my guess is that many of us fall back to email still. Furthering strengthening the case for using this powerful but at times inefficient tool.
What does this mean to you?
This means that if collaboration, especially amongst dispersed teams is important you might want to consider trying out a variety of options beyond email.
When communicating on a particular project it might be tempting to use email but consider working with your IT professional on a collaboration tool. EMC has a number of solutions, as does Microsoft (Sharepoint), Weboffice from Webex, HyperOffice, IBM Lotus and many other solutions.
Another important part of collaboration is notification. If you have a collaboration suite and have to check it often and find out there are no new updates you might not check it so often. But if you are updated to new documents and new discussions, via email or RSS you’ll always know when there’s new content on the forum or discussion board.