What is collaboration?
Collaboration is a working practice and it is a critical attribute to business success. This is where individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve business benefit. It allows individuals to work together to achieve a defined business purpose.
It exists in two forms which are:
Synchronous – where everyone communicates with each other in real time, such as online meetings through instant messaging or via Skype
Asynchronous – this is where the interaction can be time-shifted, as when uploading documents or annotations to shared work spaces
Digital collaboration may not be new but 2015’s attitude towards it could be!
Carefully identifying and addressing issues of concerns helps establish if the collaboration is the right way forward like in most businesses.
The potential benefits of collaborative working could be;
- New or improved services
- Wider geographical reach or access to new groups that could benefit your business
- More integrated or coordinated approach to needs that could benefit your business
- Financial savings and better use of existing resources
- Knowledge, good practice and information sharing
- Sharing the risk in new and untested projects
- Capacity to replicate success
- Stronger voice
- Better co-ordination of organisations’ activities
- Competitive advantage
- Mutual support between organisations
Potential risks of collaborative working could be;
- Outcomes do not justify the time and resources invested
- Loss of flexibility in working practices
- Complexity in decision-making and loss of autonomy
- Diverting energy and resources away from core aims
- Damage to your brand and reputation
- Damage to organisation and waste of resources if collaboration is unsuccessful
- Stakeholder confusion
Here are some key obstacles you may find whilst working collaboratively;
- Competition between partners
- Lack of information and experience
- Lack of resources, especially at decision-making stage
- Resistance to change
- Cultural mismatch between organisations
- Lack of consistency and clarity on roles and responsibilities
You can now test the water at low cost
Digital collaboration tools are going down significantly in price and while a company-wide installation is still a significant investment there are plenty of small alternatives that can be trialled at low cost, to explore features such as co-worker discussions, content management, instant messaging, status updates and more. Names like Slack, Jive and Yammer also offer high levels of integration with business systems, eliminating the cut-and-paste techniques earlier programmes relied on.
Is collaborative working for you? Try it.