Evidence of collaboration's importance is quickly evolving as online communities sprout up within the workplace and public websites. Sharing your ideas, providing a resource to your team, coordinating the content for a presentation to your biggest client are among many reasons to know more about and make valuable connections.
Here are several resources to help you learn the basics of collaboration, to answer questions about collaboration tools from a buyer's perspective, and to understand group preferences and tips for building an online community.
The three most sought after features in collaboration tools are group connections, communications services, and document libraries.
Group connections help you keep in touch with your group on a frequent basis. Communications services are essential in collaboration tools though will vary from one tool to another. Your best bet is to have several alternatives to choose from, whether it's chat or IM, email, and video conferencing. And document libraries are needed to store product literature, presentations, meeting notes, policies, and so on. Organizations with up-to-date documentation will give you knowledge resources to help in your job.
Suppose you just joined your company and need to find a subject matter expert. Resources need to be available in your collaboration tool and to point you in the right direction. Collaboration can be a starting point to introduce yourself and get a conversation going. Don't be afraid to ask. If you're leading a project team, you want to ensure the collaboration channels are open, possibly using virtual meetings if your team is geographically dispersed.
Lots of new project apps are becoming available to help team members track tasks and time as required. Sometimes organizations may not have fully developed a collaborative culture because it's used to doing things a certain way. Take initiative to nurture collaborative teamwork, which can make work more enjoyable.
Challenges for technology buyers and buying committees often stem from limited analysis of existing inventory of tools, business processes that support the vital workflow, or knowing features that will help everyone do their jobs. Are teams happy with the brand of tools you are using?
Many organizations have developed processes that can be automated. Imagine the repetitive tasks without using web-based templates and accessing examples of other presentations and sales quote forms within your organization. Collaboration tools that support multiple departments through group conversations and easily accessible communications services to find resources will help gain acceptance and save time.
What questions to ask often turn into a stumbling block so it's best to sit down with your group members and lay out the facts. Start a dialog around your group purpose and this will lead to discussion of the kinds of tools that everyone prefers. If you need an online project workspace, there are specific tools to accommodate keeping track of tasks and project status.
Consider whether you need a month-to-month contract or whether your goal is long term to keep your collaboration tool up and running for ongoing exchange of ideas and document storage. In some situations, group members are uncertain at the outset so flexibility can help to stretch your collaboration endeavors to more discoveries and better outcomes.
Social collaboration is a popular term used today in building communities online and defining how people interact and share information. Everyone is working toward common goals-learning, contributing to shared knowledge, and community. Sounds like a perfect world but online communities are great places to field questions for customer support, find answers to challenging tasks in your work, or solicit ideas for product enhancements.
Online communities require skill in nurturing community support and participation. A community moderator can monitor participants' responses to keep the community lively and on topic.