There are many factors IT managers must consider when implementing new internal communications and business operations software. These include security, ease of use, interoperability, compatibility with existing workflows, and budget. We examine each of these in depth.
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Business operations and internal communications software can help teams to be more productive and engaged. They ensure employees have access to critical information and provide managers with practical tools for leadership.
However, such platforms house much of a company’s mission-critical and confidential data, including conversations between employees, policies and best practices, and human resource assets. As a result, questions of security, data privacy, and regulatory compliance loom large.
IT managers also need to ensure good interoperability with existing software and a good overall user experience. Otherwise, operations suffer and workers may turn to unauthorized and less secure solutions, like texting.
In this article, we explore these and other concerns IT managers must bear in mind when choosing or implementing software for internal communications and business operations.
Security, Data Privacy and Ease of Use
Employees need to be able to share information and resources with ease. Task management, worker safety and security, and company culture all depend on it.
IT managers, on the other hand, must ensure this data is exchanged securely. Data leaks—potentially devastating to a company’s operations and public image—occur regularly.
Fortunately, the best operations and communications software is built with good security in mind. For example, Connecteam allows managers and IT professionals to monitor and remove employee access to group chats, knowledge bases, and other assets at any time. Data is also encrypted, whether in the cloud or on an employee’s device.
In fact, studies have shown the greatest risk to data security actually comes from employees themselves, whose poor security practices put company assets at risk.
IT managers should thus focus on:
- Ensuring workers receive proper training and can spot phishing attacks and other common cybersecurity ruses.
- Implementing strong password policies.
- Restricting access to sensitive data.
- Regularly backing up important data, or ensuring your software provider does this.
This allows managers and employees to share information and communicate effectively, without having to jump through additional, often cumbersome, security hoops.
Compatibility, Integrations, and Interoperability
The average company uses at least a few different pieces of software. Many use dozens. Complex ecosystems like this are difficult to maintain and give rise to frequent issues of compatibility and interoperability.
All-in-one platforms that bundle operations, communications, human resources and more into a single solution offer an elegant solution to this problem and improve compatibility and interoperability company-wide.
Compatibility with existing workflows and day-to-day practices is also important. “Forcing” a solution onto workers who already have an established way of doing something leads to frustration and shadow IT (the use of unauthorized apps as a workaround to the perceived or actual shortcomings of an official platform).
Customizability and flexibility save the day in this regard. Software that can be customized to meet business needs ensures the software serves employees and not the other way around.
Ensuring Regulatory Compliance
Issues of privacy and regulatory compliance are equally important to security and compatibility.
IT managers will want to prioritize platforms that facilitate compliance with relevant employee data protection laws. These include:
- California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA);
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
- European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In addition, laws require employers to securely maintain specific records. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mandates that employers keep employment and personnel records for one year after an involuntary termination. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that payroll records and employee records are kept for three years.
Therefore, you will need the ability to archive and not just delete data from off-boarded or off-season employees. Connecteam, for example, allows you to revoke access to company assets while maintaining human resource documents. These can be assigned a specific deadline after which they should be deleted or updated, too.
Meeting Cost and Budget Constraints
Operations and communications software tends to follow a per-user pricing model. As teams grow, costs go up. This can get prohibitively expensive for businesses of all sizes. But it can be especially difficult for small businesses and start-ups, where the cost per employee tends to be higher.
Models that charge a flat monthly rate or a very small additional amount for each employee give companies room to breathe and grow. Connecteam’s paid tier, for example, starts at $29 per month for up to 30 users, with additional users costing just $0.50. There’s also a free Small Business Plan for up to 10 users.
Lastly, applications that can be used securely on personal devices save companies from having to provide hardware to employees. For this to work, the platform should be easy to install, simple to use, and work on all mobile devices.
How to Find the Right Solution
The final choice of software may or may not fall to the IT manager. Either way, as an IT manager, you should come prepared with a list of must-haves to help guide the decision-making process.
This list should include the factors addressed in this article: interoperability and compatibility, cost, ease of use, and security and data protection. Compare vendors using these factors for a clear picture of which is best for your business.
If possible, IT managers should also be involved in hands-on or virtual demonstrations and ensure they have time to try the software before it’s implemented. Reviews from websites like Captera and TrustPilot can help reveal any common IT sticking points.
The right solution provides effective and simple tools for operations and communications, while ensuring the main concerns of IT managers are met. Many IT managers find that Connecteam is the best solution for internal communication and operations. It’s a cost-effective, scalable, all-in-one solution.