Why use web conferencing #4: What to look out for when selecting an online collaboration tool

When you go on the hunt for a web conferencing solution for your company you naturally take a look at the functionalities of the potential candidates first. And rightfully so. But there are other factors that need to be considered as well – such as cost.

Fees and licensing models differ from vendor to vendor. In general, web conferences create two types of costs: expenses for actual usage, in the form of license fees or rental charges, and costs of audio functionality – because visual collaboration within virtual teams is usually supplemented by conference calls.

Software as a service (SaaS) is highly suitable for small organizations and freelancers – because it is generally more cost-effective to pay monthly or annual fees rather than install and operate the tool on in-house servers.

Rental model rates depend on how much the tool is used, as well as on user behavior and the corresponding pricing models. Named-user licenses are an excellent option if there is a clearly defined group of multiple users, while concurrent-user licenses provide access to virtual meeting rooms, which is a good idea for a large number of people who rarely use the tool.

As an aside: We are observing that the general trend is drifting away from complex terms and rates towards transparent, clearly structured flat rates.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of phone calls for online meetings. Many tools come with integrated conference-call solutions. Whether these can be used or not depends on an organization’s existing telephony infrastructure. In terms of audio, VoIP solutions lead the field. But to benefit from this technology, participants must have a reliable broadband connection and a headset. Alternatively, conference-call solutions from a different vendor can be used parallel to the web conference. Because the various payment models used by participants in different countries can lead to considerable cost differences, it is worth taking a close look at what providers have to offer. A three-way conference using a regular phone system is often sufficient for meetings between two or three participants.

So, this concludes our series of looking at web conferencing as a whole. We are very certain that we have not mentioned everything there is to say on the topic. If you feel that we have ignored a key issue just let us know.