Many companies don’t walk their talk. We put our own iterative process to work for us in a quest to find a teleconferencing solution and made an interesting discovery along the way.
Following Our Own Process
The work we do relies on clear communication and collaboration tools. From Google Docs to Dropbox to Slack, real-time collaboration and communication between the Subtext team and clients is central to the work we create together and the relationships we foster and grow.
But online collaboration and text-based communication tools have their limitations and can’t replace a reliable (and affordable) teleconferencing solution.
For a long time, our solution was to use Citrix GoToMeeting for our screen sharing, web conferencing and telephone communication needs. Despite the often inconvenient updates and failure to accept perfectly good meeting ID numbers, GoToMeeting works really well.
The problem with GoToMeeting is that the quality of service didn’t justify the cost.
We needed an alternative.
Research & Planning
The first step was to research GoToMeeting’s competitors. We compiled our list of competitors into a database. With this database we compared each competitor and evaluated their offerings against our needs.
The database helped us create an evaluation process that allowed team members to test each competitor objectively.
Our evaluation criteria was:
- We needed at least two lines in our plan
- Reliable Voice Over IP calling
- Clear Call-in quality for phone users
- High-quality screen sharing
- The ability to change hosts in the middle of a meeting.
Additionally, we had a few nice-to-have options:
- A mobile app
- No software to install for desktop use
- Google Calendar integration
- Recording capabilities for tutorials and documentation
- Whiteboarding or Drawing functionality
The database produced a shortlist of contenders to assess:
- Zoom Meeting
Testing occurred over the course of a month,using each of the conferencing tools on multiple occasions for client calls and team check-ins.
We quickly realized that the bulk of the nice-to-have elements were unnecessary because we never used them. It also became apparent that for some of the core elements we needed in a tool, it was hard to assess them from one interaction or a short call. This meant testing required more time than we initially planned.
A little over a month later, testing was done and our findings were ready to be compiled and considered for the final decision.
Implementation & Iteration
In the end Zoom won us over.
The price was right and provided us the extra lines we needed to better serve our clients. We implemented it immediately and lived happily ever after.
With two lines we expected everything to work seamlessly. We had two accounts, giving us an extra line to use if another call was already taking place. Our process had given us the right solution to our need, but upon launch we discovered a use-case that we had not planned.
The problem was that our process for scheduling which line we needed to use didn’t work.
In our initial roll-out of Zoom, we were double-booking one line. This problem was difficult to fix on the fly because calls were dependent upon specific account numbers. Adding an additional line would increase cost comparable to GoToMeeting, so we iterated on our original testing and planning to see if there was a cheaper option.
The thoroughness of our initial research helped us quickly determine which alternatives might provide us with a more cost effective solution, but nothing compared to Zoom when it came to quality. Zoom remained the solution for us.
We learned from this exercise that we can trust our research, planning, implementation and iterative process to work not just with our client projects but with our internal organizational projects.
Next up in our ongoing iteration of process, we are reevaluating our project management tools.
Subtext is a digital agency that focuses on building and optimizing online customer experiences for our clients. While we spend a lot of time talking about our clients’ customers every day, we also spend a great deal of time talking about our own customers and how we can build better relationships that support doing the best possible work together. To learn more about how Subtext works to build better relationships with clients, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!