The complaints these days seem more frequent. They are more earnest. Not only are people having a hard time keeping up with how the technological tools we use actually work, but they are also having a hard time knowing what tools to use when. The options are daunting. The guidelines are elusive.

We use Microsoft Office 365 at work. In some ways, this robust suite of tools exacerbates the confusion and frustration so many of my colleagues are experiencing, and in other ways these problems are clarified and sometimes resolved by these tools.

Take communication and collaboration, for instance. In Office 365, the tool used most by the most people at our organization is Outlook, by far. Email is how most of us first communicated using computers, and continues to be a comfortable default for many people. In Outlook, we can also maintain our calendar, a task list, and we can engage in conversation with one person, a small team or a large department.

Office 365 also offers Kaizala, a robust chat tool. And Teams, a departmental collaboration tool. And Yammer, an enterprise social network. And Sharepoint, a way to communicate and share files throughout the entire organization. When a project begins at our organization, or when people are reviewing the way do their work, the question often comes up.

“What tool should I use? Why?”

A fair question to be sure, one that makes me remember a question I myself was asking not too long ago. I was looking for a new software I could use to keep track of my tasks, so I posted a question online looking for advice. The best answer I received was “The best task management software you can use…is the one you actually use.”

That was it! No two of us are the same. We use different tools for different reasons. You may use Google to search the internet, and I may use Bing. You may use Facebook for social networking, and I may use Twitter. You may track your tasks in Outlook while I track my tasks in ToDoist. Why don’t we all use the same thing? Because we are different.

We are different. Kaizala, Teams, Yammer and Outlook all offer the ability to communicate privately or with a team, and we see departments throughout our organization using these tools in robust ways. People are communicating with new efficiencies and work is getting done quickly and effectively. People like different things for different reasons, and these preferences and traits can often dictate the tools we use at work.

It used to be that when my colleagues asked me the question about which tool to use and when, I would try to counsel them. I talked to them about what they are trying to do and why. How large of a team are you working with? What needs do you have to share and memorialize information?

Now, I fully confess. I can’t help them. The answer is for you to find on your own. Use the tools, often. Get a sense for how they work, and how others on your team interact with them as well.

Sometimes the tool will make sense to you, other times it will not. Is the functionality of the tool is such that it makes sense for you to extend the effort to learn how it works, and how it could serve the work of your team?

Sometimes you will like the tool, and other members of your team will not. You will need to decide if this is a battle you are willing to have. There are ways you can compel others to use the tool you are using, and to retrieve the information you are trying to share.

The piece of software you have come across works well, I promise. I can’t tell you necessarily if it will suit your needs well. I don’t have the answers, give the software at try.

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