Enabling Collaboration in 7 Steps

3. Create a vision or ultimate design for what kind of collaboration technologies could support and streamline collaboration. Continuing our customer service scenario, this could mean an expertise portal where agents can search and identify experts for different areas, supported by presence and communication channels to reach those experts in real-time. Often the fastest route to solving a customer problem is based on knowledge in someone else’s head — if finding this information faster was possible, customer satisfaction could improve.

4. Build business cases for each process or domain that has been identified. Then, stack rank these initiatives according to the business impact or ROI they can provide. For example, a company could define the different collaboration workloads that you see having the greatest return — such as messaging/presence, team portals, document management, content management and search — and then align these workloads with the priority business cases.

5. Implement in steps. Based on how you prioritized the potential processes to enhance with collaboration, keep the change manageable by implementing slowly. This helps to establish credibility and results — real momentum as users individually appreciate the benefits. With this momentum, it’s easier to implement collaboration tools more broadly and realize more benefit.

6. Communicate business goals to the users. Tell them not only how to use the new collaboration capabilities but why they should use them. In some cases, it may even make sense to invest in building a baseline metric of productivity or some other measure to allow reporting of improved success over time.

7. Monitor success and adjust, if required. The benefits of collaboration can be notoriously hard to quantify. Measuring the direct effects of the act of collaborating is very difficult. Collaboration yields improvements as both the technology and the human behaviors permeate the business. Measuring applications misses the point. What matters most to organizations is the effect of these changes over an extended period of time and how they help impact business outcomes to bring about company improvements.

There are many different examples of quantifying success with collaboration. For instance, some customers have tracked financial metrics or reduced travel or telecommunications spending. Others track their ability to attract and retain employees as a result of a collaboration platform or report on the “green” benefits they’ve seen. When the collaboration solution targets a specific area, you can also monitor user or customer satisfaction as a result of the process as well.

Companies that effectively use collaboration services will find themselves accomplishing certain goals more quickly: establishing collaborative workspaces for content management, sharing documents and insights, and enabling teams that can connect quickly and more efficiently. They also will be able to adapt to business opportunities more effectively because they can connect and innovate with agility. It accelerates their entrance into the markets they want to dominate. It improves how employees do their work. It drives innovation. It stretches across the globe. It can be the difference between success and failure.

Tyson Hartman is the CTO & VP of Enterprise Technology Solutions for Avanade. Tyson is responsible for Avanade’s technology vision, solutions and R&D investments. Focusing on how best to leverage the latest Microsoft technology to solve customer problems, Tyson leads the incubation and engineering teams to deliver differentiated solutions across the complete enterprise IT lifecycle.

Markus Sprenger is the global solutions director for Information Management and Avanade’s primary business intelligence (BI) expert. He defines and directs the implementation of Avanade’s solution strategy relative to Microsoft’s BI products and alliances, including the creation of intellectual property (IP) and reusable implementation assets that accelerate customer deployment.