Holistic planning plays an integral role in finding success with collaboration in business settings. Browse a few studies and you’ll find that plenty of companies are using social, mobile and video tools to bolster collaboration in the enterprise, but you’ll also see an overarching theme that technology alone is not enough to transform the way an organization operates. Instead, cutting-edge solutions must be tightly integrated into everyday processes and procedures so that collaboration is embedded into end-user operations.
This deep level of technological integration into your company requires careful and strategic planning. In particular, you must think broadly when considering how you will use technology to drive meaningful collaboration within your business. Follow these three tips to develop plans that allow collaboration to have a greater impact on your organization:
“You must think broadly when considering how you will use technology to drive meaningful collaboration.”
1. Keep technology simple from an end-user perspective
Establishing robust collaboration capabilities can be incredibly complex from a technical standpoint. You may need to upgrade networks, incorporate specialized communication systems into your office and integrating apps into your technology ecosystem. This is a huge commitment and can easily be overwhelming for a business. Managed services providers can help with the technical complexity through consulting and help deploying new systems. However, you must also think strategically to keep the end-user experience as simple as possible.
You don’t want your staff to have to hop between apps, deal with complex login procedures or have to learn to use highly specialized hardware just to collaborate. All of these complexities essentially create hoops that your users will need to jump through in order to work with colleagues. Collaboration processes already usually require people to step outside of their usual, isolated processes and take time to interact with co-workers.
Simplifying the end-user experience makes it easy for users to take advantage of the collaboration tools you have invested in, allowing them to integrate the tools seamlessly into everyday operations.
2. Integrate collaboration into operations
Organizations that thrive on collaboration do so because working together is part of their culture. Asking employees who are entrenched in tasks that they do independently to periodically step out of their productivity bubble to collaborate on an unconventional project is disruptive. Conversely, organize your business so that every job role and core operation requires collaboration, and users will be able to work together in more natural ways.
Of course, there are always situations when it is best to just have your workers focus on getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Identifying processes where collaboration is helpful and building an organizational culture around those tasks sets a foundation for effective collaboration. When people expect to work together, they will be more likely to embrace the best tools to do so. This stands in stark contrast to situations in which collaboration is improvised within your business.
If collaboration is improvised, users will likely use whichever tool is easiest for them to get the job done instead of trying to identify which solution will be the best for what they need to accomplish. If you build processes around collaboration, you can ensure that the best solutions you have are so tightly integrated into operations that they are also the easiest to use. Integrating collaboration into your everyday procedures in this way allows you to make it a true part of your business, not just something that gets tacked on when it’s absolutely necessary.
3. Focus on quality
Choosing the right technology to support collaboration is incredibly important. Videoconferencing tools that only offer low-resolution video feeds will turn users away. Letting network limitations bog down data transmission between users – for video or large file transfers, for example – can also put a dent in your collaboration initiatives.
The need for excellent technology also extends out to phone systems, data sharing capabilities, built-in collaboration for end-user apps and ensuring that solutions work evenly across different computing systems. You don’t want a mobile user to be severely limited when trying to work with somebody using a computer at the office. Finding the best collaboration tools isn’t a matter of choosing a top brand and rolling out new hardware. Instead, you need to pick and choose the best combination of technologies based on your specific needs.
This selection process is another area where managed services providers are particularly valuable. Nobody knows your business as well as you do, but an MSP can provide a combination of deep technical expertise and an awareness of how other organizations have solved collaboration challenges. This expertise helps you emphasize quality when choosing a solution by offering the knowledge needed to find the best solution possible within your operational and financial situation.
Collaboration isn’t easy in modern businesses. However, combining the right technologies with collaborative culture can position your organization to drive value creation.