Reasons You May Find Collaboration Challenging

Please read the original post, published on E2.0Pros on June 10th, 2010

A recent study done by Elearning! and All Collaboration found that nearly 80% of executives surveyed said that collaboration was imperative to the future success of their company. This sounds like great news, right?

From the survey, only one-third of respondents who want to collaborate are able to do so in their organizations. And get this – survey respondents listed email as their most-used collaboration tool. This may be no surprise, because email has become the communication mainstay in business, allowing people to share and edit documents, providing a means of retaining work and progress. However, newer, more efficient tools have been developed, which hugely overpower the collaborative capacity of e-mail.

According to BusinessWeek, of those companies that deploy collaboration programs, 75% consider the program to be fair at best. There seems to be a disconnect between the “want” for collaboration and the actual “use” of collaboration in today’s business world.

With the tendency of companies to use e-mail (which was not designed for collaboration), it’s no wonder that many enterprises are performing poorly in collaboration despite millions or billions of dollars wasted every year. Business leaders are versed in the concept of collaboration, as are most professionals during the present times, however, a disconnect exists. Guess what? Emailing an idea to a bunch of team members, with the result that half of them lose that email in their over-stuffed inbox isn’t collaboration, nor is only a few people responding to the e-mail and the rest of the team not being allowed into the conversation.

Below are three of the reasons why your collaboration efforts may be sub-par.

Reason #1 – You’re scared

Yes, you know the benefits that collaboration can offer, but you are still wary of it. How much more effective can successful collaboration really be? Do we need collaboration to get by? Well, yes, yes you do, as stated in BusinessWeek and Elearning! Based on that nearly 80% who want to begin collaborating more, you’ll want to beat them to the punch to improve your businesses practices and your bottom line right away.

Goal: Develop fearlessness

Example: You just need to overcome those hurdles to collaboration. Understand that it will take some time to become as efficient as possible, and there will be a learning curve. But the outcomes are going to be so great that you’ll forget about the small challenge it was to get there. Leaders need to develop a collaborative vision and make some tough choices.

Reason #2 – You don’t know your options

“Collaboration” is kind of a big word, and can mean a lot of different things, including tools, techniques, training and processes. So how do you know what solution is right for you and your enterprise? You don’t – until you strategically develop greater understanding.

Goal: Educate yourself on the available tools, hire a consultant or researcher, experiment with new processes and tools

Example: Do some research on different collaboration techniques and online collaboration solutions to facilitate communication in your team. Try them yourself, make sure that they are easy to use and helpful. Money is not the issue, rather if the technology is of benefit. Allow others in your organization to test them out as well. Once you have a comparison of the tools and options available, you’ll be able to make an educated decision as to which solution can encourage effective and successful collaboration in your business.

Reason #3 – You haven’t accepted it

Even with the most advanced collaboration solution, tools do not make collaboration great. People make collaboration great. In order for the solution you chose to make collaboration great, you and your workers need to accept the collaboration concept in your corporate culture. It’s not enough to try collaborating on a few different items, or to test collaboration for a while and revert back to ineffective email for communication. You need to dive head first into collaboration and make the commitment to a better, more collaborative work environment in order to see the incredible results that can be achieved.

Goal: Collaboration Adoption

Example: Listen up, enterprise – you are going to have to make the big leap into collaboration and accept it into your corporate culture with open arms. What does this mean? It means communicating from top-down and bottom-up the powers of collaboration, creating new reward systems, changing performance reviews, encouraging team work, and walking the talk.

In summary, once you address these three topics, you’ll immediately see success. The 80% will personally thank you.

Increase Client Collaboration

Please read the original post, published on The OnePlace Blog, May 27th, 2010

If you’re like many of us and working in a client or customer service business, you tend to do a lot of work for your customers and clients. There is a lot of communication going back and forth, and products and projects are being updated for the benefit of the client.

When you’ve already taken the necessary steps to improve internal team collaboration within your business and are using a solution like OnePlace, you see an increase in the quality of work and communications happening among your team. But then – horror of horrors – you need to take a file out of your collaboration solution (thus rendering it outdated) and email it to your client.

If you just said “Wow, this sounds very inefficient and ineffective,” you are spot on.

In order to improve the efficiency and effective of your business and the relationship you have with your clients, look for ways to increase client collaboration within your current internal collaboration practices. These three things are huge for facilitating effective client collaboration and producing a quality outcome that everyone can agree on.

Online Discussions
Being able to be in constant communication with the businesses who are doing work for you is an invaluable asset for a client. Allow your clients the opportunity to chat with you whenever they have a question or would just like to say a quick “Hello.” Hold an online discussion about the project you are completing for your client, and open up a chat function to instant message one-to-one or one-to-many. These types of communications will keep all interested parties in the loop as to what is happening with the work, and will also give your client the “warm fuzzies” for being only a keystroke away from your team.

File Collaboration
As mentioned above, it’s very inefficient to continue emailing files back and forth. Not only are the files rendered outdated as soon as they are sent, but there is a great risk of the files and/or communications around the files being lost somewhere in the email black hole. Collaborate on files with your clients within a file storage and sharing solution. For improved client collaboration, you should be able to upload files, track multiple versions of files, check files in and out and comment on file versions. This will allow everyone the ability to connect and collaborate on files in one centralized location, while also keeping files up-to-date and storing all file communication in a safe place.

Status Reports and Updates
Nothing makes clients happier than knowing what is going on by their hired service providers. Make sure you keep your clients happy by giving them project updates and status reports whenever they ask for them. You may say that this takes too long – however, if all your work, communications and files are stored in one online business organization and collaboration solution, your clients can see up to the minute updates and reports. This will keep them in the loop as to your team’s activity, and they will be able to report to others about that activity.

(Psst – luckily, OnePlace offers you a great way to tackle all of this with our Workplace Portals. They are great for client collaboration!)

Once you improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your client collaboration, your relationships with your clients will improve as well. So whether you choose OnePlace for your client collaboration solution or another option, look forward to improved communication and business success.

Top 5 Reasons Why Businesses are Failing At Using Social Media for Team Collaboration

View the original post on Madras Geek, published April 15th, 2010

With the huge increase in social media tools available for personal use, we are seeing a lag in the amount of time it takes businesses to adopt these tools for their own business networking. When the success of a business depends on the successful and productive communication between its people, businesses need to take steps in the direction of increased collaboration and communication among their team.

So why aren’t businesses using Facebook- and Twitter-like tools to collaborate and connect their teams to get more done? There are many reasons for this, and we’ve got them explained below.

Reason #1 – They Don’t Know These Social Tools Exist

Some businesses just aren’t aware of the fact that these new team collaboration solutions are available for use. They aren’t looking for a better way to collaborate because they don’t realize their current collaboration tactics are broken. They think that there is no need for a solution that uses social media features to benefit the communication in a business. However, in recent years, the amount of these communication and collaboration tools have increased greatly, and will become necessary to a business’s success in the near future. So do a little research, find a collaboration solution that is easy to use and integrates social media traits to entice your team to use it, and jump on the bandwagon early!

Reason #2 – Businesses Are Not Embracing Social Media Advancements

Email is losing its all-encompassing effect on teams as the best way with which to communicate with team members. Unfortunately, email is what people know and understand how to use these days. They aren’t moving into the 21st century and experiencing all the features of a detailed team collaboration solution. There is a reason why there are so many options for better business communication: They work, and they deliver so much more than email has to offer. A hint to business owners: Team collaboration solutions WILL increase communication and team productivity, thus increasing your revenue. Who can say no to that?

Reason #3 – Old Habits Die Hard

Once the business decision-makers realize there is a nice, new collaboration solution that utilizes Twitter- and Facebook-like social styles to increase communication between team members, they need to make the change and start using it. But guess what? Old habits die hard. Make sure you work hard to keep all communication within the solution rather than reverting back to your old ways of using email. Once you make the switch and become fully committed, you’ll love the feeling of knowing all communication is happening in one secure place.

Reason #4 – Executives Don’t Set A Good Example

Sometimes the executives need to keep up with the kids. With a younger, more tech-savvy workforce entering today’s businesses comes the knowledge and love of social media tools. 20-somethings have been using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter just as long as they have been using email, and have been in front of computers for most of their lives. But these new employees are not the influencers in the business. The executives of the business are not as familiar with such tools, and don’t understand their effect on communication and collaboration. In order to push some of the mid-level managers and set a positive example for the younger entry-level employees, executives and business owners need to use these tools themselves and show how they can be beneficial in a professional setting. It may even be smart to utilize an online team collaboration solution that is secure and professional and keeps all communication in the same place as the tasks and projects on which the team is working. This way, the communications stay on the business and the work, and users aren’t distracted by other messages on their personal social media sites.

Reason #5 – Business Can Be Complacent

Admitting there is a new way in which to work is the first step. The next step is actually making the change and moving toward that better solution. Unfortunately, many business owners and decision-makers are complacent and think their way of doing things is “just fine.” And while it may be “just fine” it’s not great. It’s not exciting. It’s not powerful. It’s not revolutionary. And yes, there is going to be a bit of hard work in moving over to a new system of more effective team collaboration and communication, but pushing onward and accepting the new, better way of getting work done will be worth it in the end.

Because social media is changing the way we as individuals connect, communicate and behave is no reason not to embrace those benefits for the business world. Find a business-oriented solution that brings your work together with your communications, and you’ll see the incredible business benefits of advanced social team collaboration.