Collaboration with an Information Architecture

“Can you see me? It says my camera is on.” “Can anyone see my screen?” “Sorry I’m late, I had to download an extension.” “Did everyone get the agenda? No, okay, let me send it again.”

If you have been anywhere near a video conference over the past several weeks, you’ve likely heard one or all of these statements. These situations occur for several reasons, but most often because a company is using collaboration tools that are not supported by a robust information infrastructure.

How much time and money has your business thrown away by trying to collaborate in an ad-hoc manner? Collaboration is supposed to help move your company forward, not limit its success.

 Our last blog discussed the importance of implementing a comprehensive collaboration solution with an integrated tool set such as Microsoft Teams. None of the cool capabilities of a collaboration solution are possible without the right infrastructure in place. 

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Successful collaboration is about more than just tools—it is just as important that these tools are supported by a reliable information infrastructure that can meet the needs of your business. The information architecture should have the ability to be designed and structured to meet the specific needs of your company and to maximize the productivity of your teams, departments, company, and external relationships. This is the power of a trusted solution from an established company versus a one-off tool. The information architecture should have the ability to be designed and structured to meet the specific needs of your company and to maximize the productivity of your teams, departments, company, and external relationships. This is the power of a trusted solution from an established company versus a one-off tool. 

Important things to look for in an information infrastructure for collaboration include:

  • Flexible deployment models (on-prem, cloud, hybrid)
  • Consistent experience across any device
  • Reliability and security
  • One login for all collaboration tools
  • One system, one support team

The way you structure your collaboration infrastructure will significantly affect the way your company  benefits from the solution. Businesses tend to purchase a collaboration framework and then set it up so that it mimics their company’s current processes and ways of working—allowing them to change as little as possible. They argue this doing so will encourage adoption among employees—people generally do not like change. The result of this attitude is  that companies do not use all of the solution’s capabilities, pay for capabilities they don’t use, and do not get the maximum value the solution can provide to the business.

 

Creating Collaboration Processes & Best Practices

To collaborate effectively, businesses need to be willing to adopt new ways of working that improve engagement and productivity of employees, partners, and customers. You can do this by creating processes and best practices around how your business will use each tool and designing your architecture to support them. Take email, for example. Email used to be the way work got done. Now we drown in the sea of email we forgot to delete. And since we receive with hundreds of emails per day, it can take hours or days to wade through them and respond. This isn’t productive, and it can be better. Setting specific uses for when email should be used can help your company avoid the email trap and improve productivity. For example, document collaboration used to consist of sending an email with an attachment. Now, there are cloud-based collaborative file shares, which are much more productive. Scheduling a meeting used to involve email chains a mile long. Now, you can see participants’ availability and send a survey via chat to determine the best meeting time. Setting best practices and developing new processes such as these can enable you to determine when it makes sense to send an email, send a chat to a project team or group, or jump on a voice or video call. 

 

Technology + Partner > Technology Alone

How can a small or medium-sized business even consider this when they often do not have IT resources? A trusted technology partner, approved by a collaboration provider such as Microsoft, can give you the knowledge and resources to enable your company to maximize its investment. They can do this by designing the architecture to support the new processes you would like to implement and then helping you find the best and myriad ways to train your employees. The result: maximized use of the collaboration solution, improved employee productivity, and increased collaboration with employees, partners, and customers. 

Technology can be a mess. Let us take it off your hands, so you can do what you do best in running your company. Fill out the form on this page to schedule time with us.

 

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