Why smart businesses are investing in digital collaboration tools
In the current period of stasis, some business leaders are grasping the reins on behalf of their organizations. Already compelled this year to trial new professional solutions (such as messaging, videoconferencing or file storage), many are waking up to the longer term potential of digital tools for global collaboration.
Until we hear otherwise, the well-trodden paths of face-to-face, physical working – travel, conferences, meetings, brainstorms – are either closed off to us all, or subject to sudden change. It's been an extremely challenging time for everyone, with very little happening in the world that any of us can control. But some businesses are taking this time to reevaluate their infrastructure, so they're fit for the post-pandemic future.
Time for strategic improvements
At the beginning of lockdown, an Econsultancy survey of 300 global enterprise professionals found that three-fifths (60%) of respondents said their organizations were likely to continue using newly adopted processes when the pandemic is over. One in four (23%) said they'd increased their spending or invested new funds, into technology or infrastructure spending.
So, as many decision makers channel budget and time towards strengthening and innovation, this time of non-optional, temporary remote working has the potential to support a strategic move towards long-term, deliberate 'distributed' working, already implemented by forward-thinking businesses such as Zapier, InVision and GitHub. Reduced office costs and access to an expanded talent pool are proving alluring, with tech giants such as Twitter and Dropbox announcing this year that its employees can choose not to work from an office.
Whatever tool or improvement you're looking to get backing for, your proposal won't get off the drawing board without a strong case for how a return will be made on the investment required.
Here's how to get the green light
If you're looking to improve your infrastructure to accommodate a newly distributed marketing and creative workforce, a next-generation digital asset management (DAM) solution is something worth considering as it will reach far beyond the usual asset centralization duties – it will support all aspects of collaboration, from conversations to file sharing. But regardless of the kind of tool or improvement you're looking to get backing for, your proposal won't get off the drawing board without a strong case for how a return will be made on the investment required.
We've looked at the best ways to capture and communicate the benefits of any proposed solution – but if you'd like a deeper dive into a business case for digital asset management itself we’ve produced a free eBook to help you with the specifics.
1. Start with your key business objective
Understanding what you will use the solution for will help you define the overall business objective, from saving time and money or embarking upon a whole new stream of activity. Your objective will cover whoever is intended to use it, be that one team or the whole organization. Regardless of scale, it's important to clarify your core business need so everything that follows in your proposal is clear and aligned.
2. Identify your users and their requirements
Your next step will be to identify all the potential users of the proposed solution across your organization – plus any external people – and ask them all what their requirements would be. Make sure you include support teams such as IT or HR in your plan if they'll be involved; their buy-in is just as important as the that of the budget holders. They can also help you map out the existing systems and applications that will need to integrate with your planned addition.
If you're unsure how to list requirements because you're asking for something you’ve never had before, you can identify some initial ones by listing problems your organization faces right now. Flipping those negatives into positives will help you make your list – 'difficulty tracking project communications' becomes 'a single place for effective project communications', for example.
Ask newly remote team members to estimate the time they spend on certain tasks in their home setting; using VPNs that slow down progress, for example, or looking for files without anyone else nearby to offer guidance.
3. Identify savings & benefits
You should be able to identify savings in two areas: money and time (which, of course, once accounted for, will also end up as money!). While money is the simplest to identify, time requires a little more analysis. For example, cloud-based solutions hosted by a supplier could remove the need for potentially expensive hardware.
Time will, for the most part, relate to staffing/task hours. Ask newly remote team members to estimate the time they spend on certain tasks in their home setting; using VPNs, for example, that slow down progress, or looking for files without anyone else nearby to offer guidance. Work out the annual average proportion of time spent on this task per role, before multiplying by the number of staff in that role and the average salary.
This will give you enough of an idea to put forward a rough estimate. If you're thinking about digital asset management for example, we can contribute our experience and share a key statistic - that time savings of as much as 70% can be achieved. It’s one of the reasons we made sure Chorus, our DAM solution, supports most file types; we know distributed work is most efficient when everything's in one place.
4. List the costs
This part of your proposal will offset the cost of your plan against the savings and benefits it'll deliver - this return on investment (ROI) figure is what's ultimately going to influence your budget holder’s decision. At this stage the projected cost can be quite rough; as with the timescales, you can confirm more detail with each subsequent step you take towards completion.
This is normally the easier part to factor, especially now the majority of digital tools require a monthly or annual subscription. But don't forget to think about internal staff costs for system maintenance and support, and extra hardware if required; processes and procedures unique to your organization will need to be agreed upon and documented. It all adds up, and if you show you've been thorough the chances of your proposal's success will increase.
5. Lay out the timescales
It won't be a big section of the proposal, but it's important to let key stakeholders know the potential timeline of acquisition, preparation, setup, launch and rollout. You can usually get a rough idea of what will be required – and related timescales - by talking to a few potential suppliers. These rough ideas – on cost, time and expected levels of customer support – will firm up as you move further down the line; just keep checking in with potential suppliers and hone your plan as you go along.
See who your potential suppliers' customers are and what they're saying about them. Testimonials and case studies are key.
Now find a supplier!
With proposal assembled and budget approved, you should be ready to start fully researching potential solutions. Use search engines; visit specialist review and listings sites, plus suppliers' own websites; follow martech blogs to hear about recent product releases.
Most importantly, see who your potential suppliers' customers are and what they're saying about them. Testimonials and case studies are key to identifying a good partner who'll not only meet your requirements but also provide an honest and reliable service. The technical details they’ll provide will be invaluable when viewed alongside more general - but impartial - review sites such as G2 or Capterra.
If you're looking to future-proof your business, investing in digital collaboration tools will be crucial for its long-term success. We hope this overview helps you shape a proposal that gets you quicker, smoother team working, but if you’re looking for a more specific, in-depth guide to building a business case for a digital asset management solution, download our free eBook today.
Author: Edie Mullen
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