The Future of Collaboration Is Today
As organizations have settled into the business of the business, one thing seems clear: the new workplace is much different than the one we were used to. Remote work and virtual teams are now a prevalent way of working, with on-site employees often the exception rather than the rule. Now that work-from-home has proven to be a viable alternative, C-Suite executives and business owners are less likely to invest in the resources, infrastructure, and space needed for all of their workers to return to business as usual.
The Collaboration Advantage
For organizations to succeed today will require the ability to turn the remote workplace into a strength, and leverage team collaboration and document management as distinctive organizational skills no matter where people are working. One important place to start is with document collaboration.
The document creation process is one of the most essential activities for any company today, and certainly one of the most extensive, touching nearly everything: internal communications, customer relations, sales, legal compliance, and much more. For large enterprises especially, managing the assembly of highly complex, high-stakes documents like proposals, contracts, or regulatory submissions is a challenge that is made even more challenging now that many teams are working remotely. Often just hours before the deadline, authors and stakeholders struggle to assemble the correct content, elements, and drafts into an effective final product.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Creating a professional business document can – and should – be an organizational skill that sets the organization apart from its competition. Document collaboration strategies and tools provide a pathway to get your creation process on track. This is especially important as businesses are now driven to rethink their workflow and business models.
Let’s explore some of the characteristics of a good solution.
True Collaboration Capabilities
Many popular systems are very good at providing a platform for file-sharing or video conferencing, but they are not well-suited for the task of collaboration. The challenge is not just assembling data and teams; but also the ability to effectively output information in the form of highly polished, high-impact documents. The process involves a wide variety of content and people from across the enterprise. And while it’s easy enough to share some files and schedule a Zoom or WebEx call, team members commonly find that in reality, creating and collaborating on large, complex, and highly polished documents can still be time-consuming and frustrating.
Document collaboration brings about a level of collaboration that makes a difference in team performance in fundamental ways. Teams work and collaborate on document creation from anywhere in the world, while having complete visibility and control over what changes are being made, what information is being used, and the layout, accuracy, and effectiveness of each element. In addition, it provides the ability to assign tasks to team members and create workflows, merging collaboration capabilities with process management for maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and advantage.
Single View of Content
Another important advantage of document collaboration is a strategy that provides a single view of content: a unified way to access and manage all documents and content. By managing your content in place while providing a single federated view ensures that information is up-to-date and secure, and is reflected over the entire organization in real-time. Anyone working on a document at any stage in the creation process will have access (if permission is granted) to all the tables, macros, and forms that are features of the final finished document.
Compared with common desktop tools and ad hoc workarounds, massive advantages in time, quality, and effort can be achieved with this approach. A single content view should maintain consistency and security across the enterprise while ensuring the kind of information agility and virtual collaboration that is needed to be most effective today.
Openness and Control
A mix of openness and control is crucial. While collaboration and teamwork are essential, so too is the need to control data privacy and security. Openness is the ability to share information and collaborate easily, and to foster that interaction across the organization. Control is the ability to strictly limit and monitor access to private and sensitive information as needed, depending on context, content, and compliance demands.
For organizations in highly regulated and global operations, mission-critical documents like exploratory proposals, engineering contracts, and regulatory submissions can grow to be hundreds of pages. Openness is essential because content elements come from a variety of systems and sources. Control is vital because different contributors need different access and permission levels to different sections of content within a single work-product. Integration with other core systems is a boost to ensure that content is available, accurate, and easy to find when it’s needed most.
Shaping the Future
Document collaboration has a dramatic role in shaping the future of how we do business and is a distinct competitive advantage. Now is the time for organizations – both small companies and global names – to examine what is currently in use within the enterprise and embrace a synergistic way of working.
About Kevin Craine
Kevin Craine is a professional writer, an internationally respected technology analyst, and an award-winning podcast producer. He was named the #1 Enterprise Content Management Influencer to follow on Twitter and has listeners and readers worldwide. Kevin creates strategic content for the web, marketing, social media, and more. He is the written voice for some of North America's leading brands and his interviews feature today's best thought leaders. His client list includes many well-known global leaders like IBM, Microsoft and Intel, along with a long list of individuals and start-ups from a wide variety of industries. Kevin's podcasts have been heard around the world, including the award-winning weekly business show "Everyday MBA". He is also the host and producer of "Bizcast" on C-Suite Radio and the producer behind podcasts for Epson, Canon, IBM and AIIM International, among others. Prior to starting Craine Communications Group, Kevin was Director of Document Services for Regence BlueCross BlueShield where he managed high volume document processing operations in Seattle, Portland and Salt Lake City. He also spent time at IKON as an Enterprise Content Management consultant working with national and major accounts. He was the founding editor of Document Strategy magazine. Kevin has also been, at one point or another, an adjunct university professor, a black belt martial artist, and a professional guitarist. Kevin holds an MBA in the Management of Science and Technology as well as a BA in Communications and Marketing.