Dec 21 2021

What Startups Need to Power Scalable Collaboration

A mixture of strategy, technology and flexibility can help ensure your collaboration tools scale with your startup.

No small businesses are the same. An organization with a handful of employees has different needs than a team of 100 people — especially when it comes to collaboration.

In the world of startups, however, collaboration strategy is complicated by the fact that teams can grow fast. This can create a sudden demand for collaboration infrastructure that can scale with your business. If your startup gets this right, it can help accelerate growth with minimal disruption.

With a firm understanding of where your company is going, along with the right strategy and the right tools, your organization can help accommodate this approach.

Understand Your Startup’s Collaboration Needs

Startups each have different missions, but they all want to grow. What the company looks like now may not necessarily be what it looks like in a year, regardless of industry. So, it’s important to embrace collaboration tools that can work across a variety of settings and contexts.

This flexibility and agility are particularly key as many businesses shift away from the office-driven setups of the past to more distributed environments. Having remote workplaces means a bigger investment in technologies designed for digital discussion, and in hardware tools from companies such as Logitech that can help make video and audio experiences seamless across platforms.

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While the obvious benefit of collaboration tools is immediate, they can also capture data that organizations can examine later. David Ulevitch, a partner with the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, recently wrote about the importance of building out collaboration technology that collects and memorializes video to use as a form of corporate intelligence.

“There is an urgent need for new tools that can empower employees to collaborate more efficiently and cross-functionally, increase transparency across an organization, and strengthen company culture in a virtual setting,” Ulevitch writes.

Being able to reference earlier discussions and research will help employees execute plans while helping the organization build its institutional knowledge as it grows. Startups should look for collaboration tools that can incorporate these benefits.

Look for Collaboration Integration Opportunities

One way to help scale collaboration is to find integration opportunities. Many popular software tools are part of broader suites, several of which have gained increased collaboration capabilities in recent years.

One example is Microsoft’s Office 365 suite. With many businesses already using the suite for word processing and presentations, the popular collaboration tool Teams offers an extensive way to encourage end users to communicate via video or chat.

Google Workspace is another example. Beyond its office suite, the company offers tools such as Google Meet, Google Hangouts and Google Voice that integrate text, voice and video chat.

MORE FOR STARTUPS: Networking needs to power every stage of growth.

While Zoom and Cisco Webex, two of the most popular videoconferencing platforms, don’t offer first-party office suites, they do integrate something else important for many businesses: cloud-based phone call capabilities. As a result, they can add value to your scalability just by removing a component you may have had to manage within your data center in the past.

Consolidating as many applications as possible so they can be managed more easily can set a foundation for easier growth down the line.

Implement Collaboration the Right Way

Finding the right technology for your team is just one aspect. It’s also important to understand the role that your leadership plays in bringing together these tools, and that may not be owned by just the IT department. Early-stage startups could find the C-suite will help shape the way technology is brought in and implemented, as it can help define the organization’s future path.

When an organization is moving quickly and simply trying to keep up with demand for its services, the use of unauthorized applications may be a byproduct of that growth. Expect some degree of shadow IT at this stage. One strategy to mitigate those challenges is to focus on building your technology stack for scale. An unauthorized application or two may not make sense for a growing team, but the infrastructure your company is planning out probably will.

Working out the complexities of a growth-driven infrastructure won’t always be easy. Your organization will have to find ways to invest in this technology, and if this is your first startup, it can be a challenge to navigate the many elements of building your technology needs for growth.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering having outside assistance that is already familiar with many of these details, such as CDW Startup Technology Solutions. Then, your organization can lean on its strengths and navigate its potential growth areas while having a guide to help make sense of the challenges that often stymie startups.

You may not know exactly what your startup will look like in a year, but with the right collaboration tools and implementation strategy, you can ensure a smooth transition.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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