Is collaboration part of your IT Strategy ?

IT strategy is all about deriving value from your IT Investments. And to derive value  from collaboration investments, you must view collaboration as more than a technology deployment. Many companies lose a lot of potential value because they think of “collaboration” primarily as a category of technology. They wrongly assume that to support collaboration, they just have to buy the “right” IT tools. This, more often than not, leads to impulsive buying of disparate tools to support multiple requests with slight variations across different departments.

“Collaboration” is defined as “people working together on nonroutine cognitive work.” This activity is about behavior, work habits, culture, management, and business goals and value. Although there are commonly used tools, the concept of supporting collaboration doesn’t point in one technology direction or another. To devise a collaboration strategy that will advance your business goals, consider a wide range of interlocking issues. The most important function of the right collaboration strategy is to avoid tribalism. A “tribe” is any part of the organization that has turned inward, functions as a unique, separate identity and is loyal to its own department, division or section rather than to the organization as a whole.  How do you go about addressing tribalism? What are the challenges that an organization sees while building an effective collaboration strategy ?

Why including collaboration strategy as part of IT Strategy important ? 

  1. Collaboration in Silos – Many organizations start building their collaboration strategy away from their IT Strategy in a vacuum. Their efforts are at the most supported by middle managers trying to build a collaboration bridge between team A & team B without assessing the overall impact on the organization.
  2. Collaboration Governance – Collaboration Governance is mostly seen as a  thing of the future. The attitude “let’s build a strategy first then build governance around it” seldom works.
  3. Accountability & Ownership – IT department ends up to be the ultimate owner only for support & compliance violations. Everything else is driven on autopilot mode.
  4. Value Proposition – Organizations often fail to associate a value to the collaboration strategy thereby making it difficult to identify success or failure. The result is generally in the direct proposition to tool adoption of the leadership team.
  5. Collaboration as By Product – Often, organizations try to leverage tools available with their core systems and build their collaboration strategy around these tools. For E.g When implementing exchange online, try to see how SharePoint/OneDrive would fit their collaboration needs.

How should they mitigate these challenges that can haunt the leadership team and prevent effective collaboration?

  1. IT Strategy defines both strategic and tactical goals which are further aligned to initiatives and projects. Aligning collaboration goals with strategic and tactical goals would result into proactive planning as well as defined projects rather than reactive implementation which either remains unfunded or is implemented with available funds in piece mill basis. For E.g If your critical business goal is to become premier service provider in healthcare services, the how collaboration would contribute to achieve that goal.
  2. Benchmark your collaboration effectiveness – Doing an inward as well as outward benchmark articulating how successful is collaboration internally as well as how is competition and organizations of same sizes achieving effective collaboration. This will help you right-size your collaboration efforts without overdoing it.
  3. Take stock of your existing tool stack and identify which tools can be leveraged for collaboration.  Map these tools with collaboration touchpoints and build competency around those. But at the same time, eliminate those options that don’t serve any organization purpose or immediate need. E.g Yammer.
  4. Establish metrics around the effectiveness of these tools. Identify tangible and nontangible metrics like productivity, efficiency as well as reduction on emails and redundant storage in network drives.
  5. Establish Governance – Last but not the least, establish governance from day one. It may not be perfect or complete but the initial guidelines can set foundation for right policies and processes for using the tools.

Collaboration is all about people and never about tools. Its about empowering your users to connect with the right people at the right time and deliver results as a team. I would be happy to help you establish your collaboration roadmap. Reach out to me using the contact us page.