According to one recent study, roughly 75% of employers rate both teamwork and collaboration is "very important" qualities that directly contribute to the ongoing success of an organization. Likewise, a massive 86% of the people who participated in an additional survey said that a lack of genuine collaboration was one of the key contributing factors to nearly all workplace failures that they experienced.
Because of statistics like these, many businesses in nearly every industry that you can think of are regularly searching for online tools designed to increase collaboration between departments, groups or even entire companies. These tools are also the perfect way to assist with tasks like project management, as they allow companies to break down data silos and freely share information in a way that allows everyone involved to work harder, faster and better than ever before.
The Problem With Off-the-Shelf Collaboration
In terms of actually finding this type of tool, there are a wide range of different options available to most businesses that offer some degree of collaboration and/or project management functionality. Slack, Yammer, Trello, Ryver, Podio - the list goes on and on. Each one offers something a little bit different than the next... but in terms of the unique goals that you're actually trying to accomplish, they're also emblematic of a larger issue that most people just don't want to think about.
None of these solutions are necessarily bad, but the fact of the matter is that they were not developed to help you support the specific ways that your employees need to collaborate. They were developed, first and foremost, to sell as many subscriptions as possible. There is nothing "wrong" about that - it's just the truth. In an effort to appeal to as many different companies as possible, many of these solutions stretch what they actually offer as far as possible. Some offer group chat functionality, sure - but when you started looking for a real project management tool, that probably isn't the only thing you had in mind.
In reality, NONE of these solutions were developed for your exact business and your precise goals. Even if you are able to locate the proverbial needle in the haystack, you probably don't have time to vet every last option available to find the one that works (as well as possible) for your needs.
Why Custom Software Is a Better Option
Rather than spending a lot of time, money and effort to find something that works "well enough," isn't it a better option to create your own product that works "exactly the way you need?" This, in essence, is why custom software is so important. Your business, your employees and your teams probably define even something as simple as "collaboration" very differently from another company. Your approach to project management likely varies wildly from even your largest competitor. These are all broad terms... which is why it doesn't make sense to invest in an equally broad category of software, hoping that you'll accidentally luck into something that works in a way that lets you meet your demands.
When you invest in custom software, you don't have to spend time searching for something that probably doesn't even exist because you'll have built it from the top down. The ability to assign tasks, visibility into workflows, the capability to track objectives and progress - these are all things that a piece of custom software can be built to handle in the way that you need, when you need it, absolutely no exceptions.
In the end, it's important to remember that software should never force you to change your processes. This is especially true when you're talking about something as important as managing all of the moving pieces to a complex client engagement. Rather than making your company more inefficient by forcing your employees to use something built with a "one-size-fits-all" mentality, you can instead choose to empower them by giving them exactly what they need to do exactly what you need in the best way possible.
When you put it like that, the choice between an off-the-shelf collaboration tool and a custom solution really doesn't seem like much of a choice at all.
About the Author
Lance Keene, the founder of Keene Systems,
has 40 years’ experience in custom software development.
Over the course of his career he and his team have written software for companies such as Mack Trucks,
Bayer, Calvin Klein, Hershey, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Lindt, Sara Lee, Pfizer, BAE, L'oreal, Ocean Spray, Dana Farber, Tootsie Rolls, Guiness, Texas Instruments, and CVS.
(see full client list)
If you'd like to learn more about custom software alternatives to your current IT problems, you can speak one-on-one with Lance
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