The perfect work management tool hardly gets noticed. It’s almost like using a keyboard; it facilitates your work without making a statement. And just like a keyboard, there’s an adjustment period when you use one you’re not familiar with. At best, it becomes a temporary point of friction. At worst, it’s a long-term obstacle.
No matter the size of your organization, you’re dealing with a whole slew of people with a preference for a certain tool. Some might be more vocal than others, but they all have an idea of what works best for them. When you can integrate your work management tools, you can use those preferences to your benefit, rather than seeing them as a problem to be fixed. Here’s what the right integration can do for you and your teams.
Empowering your teams
“But wait, I don’t need an integration,” you might say. “I can just choose the one tool we’re all going to use.” It’s true. Maybe you have the power to impose a single tool across your team — or even the whole organization. But that may do more harm than good.
Work management tools just aren’t created equal. For some, Trello’s ease of use is paramount, since it facilitates widespread adoption — which can be useful for an agency that needs to stay in close contact with clients. For others, Jira’s robust analytics and Scrum features are indispensable; these can be crucial for an agile development team. Think of any work management tool, and someone, somewhere, can tell you why it reigns supreme.
These choices aren’t arbitrary; they’re based on knowledge and expertise. Over time, these tools also become part of the user’s identity. Everyone has their own way of working; quirks that differentiate them from the pack. This is something that’s developed over their career. Some people like to use the Pomodoro technique to improve their productivity. Others wear big red headphones to signal when they shouldn’t be disturbed. Tool choice is a bit like this, but magnified. Whatever tool your reports prefer, it’s integral to how they work and interact with their team.
If you strip tool choice from them, you’re forcing them to start over. That’s not how you build optimal workflows.
When you integrate work management tools — rather than just choosing one — you’re empowering your teams. You’re telling them that you trust their expertise and that you believe they know how to best do their work. You’re working with them to build the best workflows you can, rather than telling them how it’s going to be.
Facilitating remote work
Organizations across the world have had to take a crash course in remote work over the past few months. Many are now intimately familiar with some of the challenges that come with remote work:
- Fragmented communication: Despite the bounty of digital communication channels available, it’s difficult to communicate in a centralized way.
- Less visibility into the work of your team: It’s much tougher knowing what everyone’s up to when you can’t see them.
- Tool silos: Working remotely means people might be more likely to set up their own tools since no one’s there to tell them any different.
Working across multiple tools aggravates some of these challenges. Visibility is tough when a manager has to jump between tools constantly, and leaving a comment in the wrong tool can mean the message never gets to the right person. How are you supposed to keep teams aligned when just talking to them becomes so difficult?
With the right integration in place, you can turn multiple disparate tools into a single collaborative environment. You’ll shatter silos, gain visibility, and create a centralized place for communication. Integrating your work management tools doesn’t solve all of remote work’s challenges, but it certainly gives them less bite.
The average employee uses 10 software tools in their day-to-day work. No wonder most organizations have to keep track of multiple work management tools.
No matter what industry you’re in, your teams are rarely working in isolation. Cross-functional projects might rope multiple teams into a single initiative, but at the very least there’s a hand-off of work from team to team. When everyone’s in a different tool, even those hand-offs can be challenging. And if anyone wants insight into the workflow, from the planning stages to delivery, they either need to dive into tools they don’t know or ask for a detailed report from someone who probably has something better to do. How much time can a team lose writing disposable reports and copying information from one tool to another? You’d be surprised.
Integration doesn’t just make the collaboration already happening easier; it makes people more likely to work together. When they don’t feel separated by silos and middlemen, people start looking for ways to get things done with other teams. They’re more likely to reach out to someone else for help and come up with creative solutions to an organization’s big problems.
Ending the tool debate
Whether you’re working across teams or across companies, one of the first questions that’ll come after the project is planned is “which tool are we using?” Unless you all miraculously use the same tool, that question is sure to lead to a drawn-out debate. Everybody will naturally try to get everyone else into their preferred tool, because nobody wants to have to change their entire workflow.
That’s the worst way to start any project. Someone will feel resentful and collaboration will be that much harder. Unfortunately, that’s become the standard for many teams and projects. Either someone is getting a tool they don’t like forced on them, or a lackluster system will be set up to handle multiple tools.
This is where workflow management comes in. If the standard shifts from choosing one tool for everyone to making everyone’s tools work together, you never have to debate this ever again. You can create an environment where everyone brings their tool to the table, gets to work in the way they feel most comfortable, and makes an impactful contribution to the project. You can both give people the ability to choose their tool and keep teams aligned.
Tool debates and disparity are things of the past.
Ready to sync up?
Work management tools were made to keep us productive. They shouldn’t be a source of rigidity and frustration. You can both keep the best tool for the job and collaborate with someone and their tool. Just get the right integration and you can do your best work, no matter what tool you prefer.