Most people instantly see the benefits here are three reasons executives have given me for not using Chatter. And here’s what I said in response. The three reasons are:
It depends what you mean by inappropriate. Employees are no more likely to create a Chatter post telling other people what they did on Saturday night than they are to send out a company-wide email with the same content. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’ve never heard of it.
That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t have rules on what is acceptable on Chatter. In my own business we use Chatter extensively for business purposes. However several of our employees have recently had babies and they’ve posted a picture of the baby on Chatter. Other people have commented on how cute they look.
In our organisation that’s an acceptable use of Chatter. It’s part of the fabric that binds us together as a company. If the pictures hadn’t been posted on Chatter they’d have been circulated out by email. In some of our clients the policy on Chatter is to keep it strictly to business issues. That’s also fine. Just let people know where they stand in terms of how Chatter should be used.
My own experience and that of our clients is that internal email significantly reduces when organisations start to use Chatter. Communication that would have taken place by email now takes place by Chatter.
However because Chatter is a much more collaborative mechanism than email there’s an improvement in the quality of communication. People tend to be more concise. Comments are less political. And you avoid the mess that results when some people ‘Reply All’ and others just ‘Reply’.
However it’s also a question of filtering. You follow the people, records, groups and files that matter to you. If other people want to bring you into the conversation they can @ you. So rather than being swamped, I’ve found that executives in organisations that make good use of Chatter have more time to focus on their important priorities.
Its true that to get the best from Chatter everyone needs to be committed to using it. And to achieve that there are a number of steps that you can take to get everyone on board. We described these more fully in a separate blog post (see “10 tips for successful Chatter adoption”) but essentially they include:
Of course not everyone in your organisation is necessarily a full salesforce.com user. However salesforce provide free Chatter-only licenses for existing customers. It’s a powerful way of bringing everyone into the conversation.
Disclosure: The company I work for is a Salesforce.com implementation partner http://www.garysmithpartnership.com