12 reasons why your team needs a workstream collaboration tool

Workstream collaboration tools are a rapidly growing category of tools that are built to organize, coordinate and execute on projects where a high level of teamwork is needed. Commonly, these systems provide a conversation-centric, collaborative environment to enable high levels of individual and group performance.

12 reasons why your team needs a workstream collaboration tool

If you’re not sure exactly what a workstream collaboration tool does, or what it can do for your team and business specifically, consider these 12 issues that this type of system can solve.

First, what is workstream collaboration?

Workstream collaboration, also known as workflow management, is how you get work done. It's a system that enables you to break your work down into a manageable and actionable structure.

Workstream collaboration tools enable this with efficiency and scale.

There are two main types of workstream collaboration tools:

  1. Those that are designed for a wide range of varying businesses

  2. Those designed specifically for a particular industry

The industry-agnostic options include Asana, Trello, Monday.com, ClickUp, etc. While they're powerful in their own rights, they're not specific enough for some industries, especially accounting.

That's where accounting workflow management tools (and practice management tools with workflow capabilities like Karbon) come in. They're built specifically to make your life, as an accountant or bookkeeper, easier and more fulfilling.

Email is the starting point of most output, but doesn’t cut it for collaboration

Email is still the most common way most knowledge workers send and receive information with clients. Whatever the job or project, email is often the starting point—the initiator of the document, client information, job, task, or discussion piece. But something so essential to the final outcome is still siloed, hidden or out of reach from many.

A workstream collaboration system that integrates with email can solve this. When email is brought into the workflow, everyone critical to the project is able to view, contribute and collaborate right in context with the email itself. This provides a revolutionary way to collaborate on the most common form of external communication.

Instant chat can be too distracting and demanding

Instant messaging tools such as Slack allow real-time discussions to happen between colleagues across offices, buildings, countries and hemispheres. There are clear advantages to this and times when instant chat is useful, however, this should not be relied upon for all collaboration.  

Notifications create constant distractions and reduce the ability to perform deep and meaningful work. There is also evidence that shows constant demand for your attention is creating unrealistic expectations, stress and anxiety in the workplace.

The synchronous, blink and you’ll miss-it format also makes conversations easy to miss, and hard to find later on. This is not ideal for something critical to an outcome.

Workstream collaboration tools provide a calmer, more permanent way to work together on what is important. Collaboration can happen in context of the work itself, and everything is searchable and organized based on project, client, or both.

Rather than constantly battling for your eyeballs, workstream collaboration tools shift the focus to where it should be—your output—by providing a calm environment with everything your team needs to get work done.

Collaboration should happen in the context of the work being done

Communicating with team members digitally is nothing new. But how effective or efficient is this communication when you are trying to collaborate on an important job or project?

It's hard to discuss work when the critical details aren’t front-of-mind. Or to talk about the response to a difficult client email when that email isn’t right there. Or to draw on a colleague’s comment from last week that you just can’t locate right now.

Workstream collaboration vendors understand the importance of team conversations occurring in the context of the work itself. Collaboration is focussed around specific topics, projects or other work activities so that these discussions happen right where the work gets done.

Critical information is hidden in individual silos

Email inboxes contain a wealth of critical knowledge that multiple team members need to be across. But operating in inboxes means operating in silos. How can this make for a coherent team?

A well-chosen workstream collaboration tool can break email out of these silos and into your team’s workflow, giving everyone the visibility to discuss, assign and action. The system becomes a central information hub that streamlines historical search and access, making for more complete records. Previously hidden data turns into common knowledge.

Every team is distributed in some way

The benefits of a workstream collaboration tool are perhaps no more evident than for teams with remote workers. These tools provide a shared digital place for teams work effectively together, no matter where they are.

But even if your team all works under the one roof, there are still going to be times when they are distributed in some way. You might have staff who are required to travel, who need to get things done after hours, who work from home occasionally, or just want that as an option.

Expectations of employees are evolving, and a growing number expect that their commitment to work is co-joined with their lifestyle. Even the most traditionally-minded employer is being forced to adapt.

The fact is, almost every workplace is distributed in some way. The workplaces that succeed tomorrow will enable effective collaboration equally amongst staff who sit next to one another, and those who sit on opposite sides of the globe.

Tasks should never slip through the cracks

An email that needs to be actioned. Projects with multiple people working on them. Individual requirements within a project. An ad-hoc request from a client. Ordering more coffee pods for the kitchen.

There is always a lot going, and one of the most common issues for businesses of all types are: How do we know nothing is slipping through the cracks?

Workstream collaboration tools provide a single place for teams to work together and are adaptable for requirements of all forms—from a large multi-year project involving hundreds of colleagues, to a one-off task that needs to be actioned today.

Every actionable item is accounted for with a clear owner, ensuring there is no confusion over who is responsible. Everyone knows what their responsibility is and can keep track of how things are progressing overall.

Too much time is spent managing email

Time is arguably the most valuable resource for you and your team, yet a worrying amount of it is spent in inboxes—sending, receiving, reading and answering emails. A workstream collaboration tool can considerably reduce the time required to do this.

By their very definition, workstream collaboration tools provide an environment for staff to work closely together—providing high visibility across teams. This heightened awareness of everything that is happening removes the need for a significant amount of internal communication—where additional email communication may have been used.

Karbon goes one step further, offering a deep email integration that takes email out of siloed inboxes and makes it part of your workflow. Email is connected to your team and everything that is being worked on, not locked away in individual inboxes. While communication with clients is consolidated in automatic audit trails, putting an end to your blind spots.

App-overload makes your data scattered

Technology advancements have made life easier in so many ways. These days, there is an app or system for every process, task or need at work. The average business is now using a staggering 129 apps.

But this has had some negative effects as well—such as app-overload and the subsequent, ‘data is everywhere’ problem. If a client phones for an update on the status on a project, the answer may lie in any number of places—a colleague’s inbox, your CRM, document management system, or workflow tool. Or maybe the answer is stuck in a colleague’s head who is at home sick.

A well-chosen workstream collaboration tool can become the foundation of your business, giving you a single place for everything: work, customer relationships, email and internal discussions. The transfer of information is made simple—even automatic—and everything is searchable and always available. The problem of not knowing where to look becomes a thing of the past. Scattered data becomes common knowledge.

Everyone deserves to enjoy peace of mind

In any given day there are seemingly hundreds of things going on. Constant notifications from Slack and other systems demanding your attention, emails from clients adding to an already over-flowing inbox, a never-ending to-do list that has become impossible to manage, and multiple projects that are already past their deadline.

Finding a block of time to dedicate to work has become a rarity. The typical workday is now sliced into fleeting moments or work, separated by constant virtual distractions. You seem to be working harder and longer than ever, yet not getting any more done.

This is not the way work should be. Everyone deserves peace of mind.

And this is what your workstream collaboration tool can provide. One single place for your tasks, projects, communication, and client details. The confidence that nothing is being missed, forgotten or reaching a deadline. No nasty surprises. And a system that enables your team to produce high-quality work by shifting the focus back to output, instead of a constant demand for your attention.

Your staff should not be performing low-value, repetitive tasks

Today, there is no reason for anyone on your team to be performing low-value, repetitive admin tasks that technology is capable of. Workstream collaboration tools are capable of empowering your staff to reduce their manual effort significantly. 

Examples include being able to set recurring work on automatic timelines so that no time is spent setting scheduling them over and over again. Automating the request, reminder and collection of data and documents from clients. Or automating updates of work and tasks statuses and progress is made through the workflow.

Making your business more efficient (and therefore more profitable) relies on constant process improvement, and the most powerful improvements can be made through technology.

Everyone works in their own way

You might have staff who love the detail and want to know everything that is going on every step of a project. Others might not care much for organization but want things to be stored in the right places without any manual effort on their part. Managers on your team might only want to know the big picture—where all projects stand from a status point of view, and whether any bottlenecks or roadblocks are occurring.

The point is that everyone works in their own way, not only due to what their role requires, but also due to their personality.

With a workstream collaboration tool, everyone has the ability to work in a way that suits them. Work can be managed on-the-go, you can plan ahead, assign things to your team, keep up-to-date with progress, and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Look at the big picture or hone-in on what you care most about.

Most importantly, everyone remains aligned to the same goals, and priorities can be adjusted to ensure work is always delivered on target.

You want your business to scale

Scalability should be a core aim for every business. Even if you don’t want to grow by headcount, being set up to scale means that tasks are performed at their most efficient, new hires can be on-boarded quickly, processes won’t break, and bottlenecks are identified before they do much damage.

A well-chosen workstream collaboration tool is key to building a business up to scale.

Whether it’s by keeping all data and critical communication in one location for future reference, providing a place to document templates of repeatable processes, or allowing effective internal collaboration across teams, departments or locations.