10 things to consider before you look for a Huddle alternative

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Choosing a collaboration solution isn't easy 

If you're looking for something a little more sophisticated than basic cloud storage and a way to share files, it’s important that you spend the time to fully understand what you’re looking to achieve, and the features that are most important to you.

There are plenty of Huddle alternatives out there - but are they suitable for your use case? 

Whatever your company size, here are the Top 10 things you should be considering

 

1. Agree your collaboration definition

Collaboration covers a wide range of tools - some of which are more suited to certain use cases than others. Make sure all stakeholders agree on a definition of collaboration when evaluating collaboration software vendors. There are four principles types of collaboration tool. 

Messaging: Tools like Slack or Skype are great for intra/inter team communication, and are useful for sharing project updates or company announcements. They are not designed for collaboration around content and may even compromise the security of your sensitive files if used for that purpose. 

File Sharing: Basic cloud file sharing services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and OneDrive provide a fast and convenient way to share documents, either with yourself (so that you can access them on another device), or with colleagues. They offer little in additional online collaboration features beyond basic file management, and some businesses may find it hard to administer and control secure external (ie client and partner) access to content. 

Voice Collaboration: Conference calling services are morphing into collaboration tools, adding features like real-time chat and document sharing. However they are typically ephemeral in nature with few options allowing you to retain and store chat histories. 

Team Collaboration: These tools typically work around the concept of  cloud-based "Workspaces" and are designed to improve teamwork around enterprise content. These act as mini-project portals, where stakeholders can work securely together on content. Team collaboration solutions will often include file sharing, version control, task management and real-time messaging capabilities, and should allow you to control user access depending on whether the user is an employee or external partner. Huddle would be considered a team collaboration solution.

2. External Collaboration

Collaboration shouldn’t be confined to the corporate firewall. To succeed, today’s agile enterprise must be able to connect and collaborate seamlessly with external stakeholders (clients, partners, suppliers etc.) while maintaining control over sensitive data. Many team collaboration tools can compromise your ability to work with external stakeholders (for example, if you use Microsoft SharePoint – your clients will also need a Microsoft account), often limiting functionality or restricting use. Find a collaboration platform that makes it easy for internal teams to connect and work with their clients and partners. 

3. Mobility

An effective collaboration tool should allow users to seamlessly hop between locations and devices without losing visibility of team activity, tasks or the latest document version. Look to find a solution that offers full mobile access and native apps for mobile devices, with offline availability and support for Mobile Device Management to ensure your sensitive data is protected.

Learn more about using Huddle with your mobile devices.

4. Evaluate the features that you really need

It's easy to become blinded by complex feature comparison charts. The reality is that some features will be far more important to you than others - so now's the time to agree on those. 

For example, for security and data governance, your IT teams may require you to find a solution that supports Single-sign-on (SSO). Alternatively, if you've just invested in Microsoft O365, you'll almost certainly want to shortlist vendors with an O365 integration that allows you to seamlessly open and edit your Microsoft Office files through the collaboration tool itself. this is something that many Huddle alternatives, such as Glasscubes, aren't able to offer.

5. User reviews

Take the time to check out user reviews. There are plenty of online resources that let you do this. Try G2Crowd, Capterra or Reviews.io for the most reliable source of vendor reviews. If you have the time, consider talking to industry analysts you can also advise on the best solution for your particular use case. 

6. Usability

Of course, you never want to compromise on security, but balancing security with usability can be a challenge for many collaboration tools. Striking the right balance is critical to adoption and where solutions become too complex and restrictive to be usable, users will often default back to less secure methods of sharing content and collaborating on work. 

7. Security & Data Governance

Building enterprise-wide trust in a content management and team collaboration solution demands confidence in its security credentials. Assess collaboration vendors on a.) technical safeguards (the robustness of encryption), b.) physical safeguards (the security of the vendors’ data centers and premises) and c.) administrative safeguards (does the vendor and its partners work to ISO 27001 standards?). It’s also important to select a vendor with strong experience and credentials in your industry (ie: FedRAMP, Cyber Essentials Plus), particularly if you are a public sector / government organization or work within a highly regulated industry.

For some organizations and industries, governance around document management is of critical importance. Choose a collaboration software solution that maintains a time-stamped audit trail of all file activity, user actions and user comments. This will allow you to monitor usage, compare document versions and infinitely roll-back to past versions. Some collaboration solutions can break the audit trail by not logging activity made through a mobile device, so be sure to evaluate the level of auditability you need and whether the solution meets your criteria.

Read more about Huddle's security credentials.

8. Change Management

Dropping a new piece of technology into your organization won’t guarantee success. Often you'll need program of change management to help users and stakeholders understand how greater team collaboration can deliver greater success. In fact, an effective change management program can make all the difference between hitting, or missing your ROI benchmarks. Don’t just evaluate collaboration software vendors based on the technical performance of their product; make sure you understand how they’ll support the set-up and deployment of their solution, as well as the education and support of your users. 

9. Return On Investment

Building a compelling business case is vital to your deployment success. Understand how a collaboration tool can impact a.) physical costs (will the tool reduce costs elsewhere in the business?), b.) teamwork productivity (are there productivity gains to be made which could improve billable utilization or save cost?) and c.) business impact (will business performance improve? E.g. an improvement in client retention). Choose a vendor that can help to build a validated business case against each of these areas and then deliver the pricing model, support and guidance you need to meet your success criteria.

10. Ease of Deployment

This should be one of your most important considerations, as a successful deployment will set the tone for success and have a significant impact on the user adoption of any collaboration platform. Choosing a vendor that understands your industry will make it easier. They should be able to map your teams’ existing workflows and process into the solution, manage any technical configurations and have the resource available to provide a suite of learning and support materials to help on-board users (including senior executives, clients and partners) regardless of whether you're a small business or a large enterprise. 

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