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Imagine, you asked a colleague a question via email two days ago, and you still haven't heard back yet. The email you sent is buried somewhere deep in their inbox, among dozens of other messages.
Sound frustrating but familiar?
Whether your team has 50 people or 500, internal communications can quickly become unmanageable. Email messages can feel like a dump of information and team members hitting "reply all" can clutter inboxes. As a team lead or manager, dealing with unorganized communications can become one of your biggest challenges.
If this sounds like you, it's time you consider internal communications software to simplify communications within your team and create a space for team collaboration.
In this guide, we'll cover:
- What is internal communications software?
- Common features of internal communication software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits of internal communications software
- Key considerations when purchasing internal communications software
What is internal communications software?
Internal communications software is software that serves as the core messaging system within a team or organization. It helps users share information and files and stay connected with team members via private and group channels.
In addition to chat, internal communications tools typically support voice and video calls. Some internal communications tools also offer screen sharing, allowing users to present information during meetings or resolve problems as a group.
A few advanced tools may also provide project management features such as task management, making it easier for teams to collaborate on projects.
Channels can be used for group communications in Slack
Common features of internal communications software
Chat with one or more team members. Create active chat rooms (sometimes called "channels") for team members to communicate in.
Share different types of files with one or multiple team members.
Maintain archives of individual and group conversations, and search for information in old chats.
Interact with team members via voice and/or video calls.
Schedule meetings with team members and maintain individual and group calendars. Also, conduct meetings via group voice and/or video calls.
What type of buyer are you?
What a team of 20 people needs in an internal communications tool is very different from what a business of 5,000 people needs. Before you select a tool, it's important to understand your business needs and identify what type of buyer you are.
Buyers of internal communications software usually fall in one of the following three categories:
Small businesses with up to 50 peopleSuch businesses usually need an internal communications tool for basic tasks such as chats and sharing information and files. A cloud-based tool with minimal features will usually suit these businesses best. In addition, the per user per month pricing model of cloud tools suit the limited upfront investment viable for most small businesses.
Midsize businesses with 50 to 1,000 people: Such businesses usually have multiple teams (possibly at multiple locations) and need an internal communications tool that works for individual as well as group needs. In addition to sharing information and files, these businesses usually need to conduct meetings and presentations digitally. Therefore, these buyers should explore relatively advanced tools with features such as screen sharing and digital meetings. Cloud-based deployment with per user per month pricing will be suitable for most midsize businesses.
Large businesses with over 1,000 people: Like midsize businesses, such businesses have multiple teams (typically at multiple locations). However, their internal communications needs also include resolving issues and addressing complaints, in addition to sharing information and files. Therefore, they should explore tools with features that allow setting up an internal help desk as well as remotely raising complaints and troubleshooting issues. This buyer category can explore both cloud-based and on-premise tools. The former option is more suitable if scalability is the prime requirement while the latter is apt for users who want absolute control over their data.
Benefits of internal communications software
Internal communications software helps your team members communicate effectively with each other. Its benefits include:
Increased productivity: These tools help save time that would otherwise have been spent going back and forth in email trails or setting up meetings.
Reduce communication errors: These tools also help ensure that all team members are on the same page—they know what is going on, what they need to do, and where their teammates are on each project. This reduces the possibility of communication gaps and misunderstandings as well as possible day-to-day conflicts between team members.
Increased flexibility in workplace: With an internal communications tool in place, team members no longer need to be in the office to remain connected with their teammates. This makes it easier for them to work from home or other locations, as well as stay connected while traveling for work.
Key considerations when purchasing internal communications software
Choosing between multiple internal communications tools can be an overwhelming experience. However, keeping the following things in mind will make it easier to select one:
Don't confuse internal communications with project management: While features such as @mentions, tagging, and sharing files are present in both project management tools and internal communication tools, the two are very different. Project management tools help organize work whereas internal communications tools aid team members in communicating. Make sure you're clear about how you plan to use the tool, and evaluate the features accordingly.
Explore collaboration tools: Collaboration tools are designed to enable teams to work on common goals or objectives and share ideas, regardless of their location. Typically, these tools also offer features such as channels (chatrooms for team members) and private messaging, and can be used for internal communications. Before you choose an internal communications tool, explore collaboration tools and see if they more closely align with your needs.
Find a tool that complements your existing digital ecosystem: If you already have Microsoft Office 365 or Google Suite in place, you can explore the internal communications tools offered within these suites (Microsoft offers Teams and Yammer, and Google offers Hangouts and Meet). If you don't want to use one of these tools, make sure the one you choose works smoothly within your existing digital ecosystem and your team doesn't have to go out of their way to use it.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
Your Guide to Top Internal Communications Software, June 2021
Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Internal Communications Software products in North America.
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