We are all aware that some research groups are still using very inefficient tools while collaborating. It is true that some of the tools are suitable for some in the group but not for the others.
The collaboration tools sometimes may also have a huge knowledge barrier which intimidates the collaborators. Over and over again, we experience huge difficulties, when we try to push forward a better collaboration solution. It is a common problem happening almost everywhere. We would like to propose a sample procedure on how to convince people and let people to adopt certain collaboration tools.
When selecting collaboration tools for a project and/or research collaboration, different stakeholders typically have different preferences and priorities. Researchers, developers, PIs and project managers may prefer to use completely different tools for sharing data, write collaborative documents, or to communicate. What typically happens in these situations is one or the other party forcing its preference and opinion on the others. Strangely, this is many times the developers/researchers achieving to use more complex or technical tools. The outcome is in many cases devastating people ending up quietly boycotting the selected tools or starting to use alternative solutions. The question is how to avoid or resolve such situations and come up with a solution that results in utilizing efficient and effective tools that are accepted by all parties.
Crucial steps in the convincing process
In successfully convincing people to switch their way of working or start using a new or different tool there are a few crucial steps. First you need to have some explicit consensus/agreement that is is worthwhile to look at some alternatives to facilitate collaboration. If there are people not willing to subscribe even to that idea, that you may have a problem that you need to solve before you move on. Perhaps you should make clear that it may involve comprising on some aspects to make collaboration possible.
Next you need to have an open discussion/session showing and demonstrating the advantages of the new tool. That has to be honest, not ignoring problems or disadvantages, but of course being clear on how it fosters collaboration and by doing that improve outcomes/products. Having people look at product created by other with that tool might help. Also being able to collectively play around with the tool with some supervision/help in an early phase is important. Another thing that is important in some cases is look at how the tools/solutions might also help people with other projects they are doing, so try to know a bit about the background of the collaborators.
Then you need to move on and perhaps have a democratic decision making process that could include voting. You could consider doing that in several rounds: vote, have another session trying out the tools or discussing it and then vote again. Only if there is a large majority voting for the tools decide to use it, but still pay attention to the people that voted against or abstained. After the decision to work in a certain way there should be easy access to training & support. Finally monitor what is happening, are people starting to use that way of working?