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Practical Guide To Web Collaboration

Updated: Sep 7

In this article we propose a step by step approach to select the convenient Web Collaboration solution based on your own requirements.



What is wrong AKA "Define the pain"



  • You are probably tired of searching through old emails to find out "What was THE final decision?" and "Who decided?".

  • Aren't your colleagues annoyed to have to forward 36 emails each time a new hire joins the team?

  • Who isn't frustrated to ask every month to all its ten colleagues the last status of all the assigned tasks?​


Approach


They are plenty of reason to set-up a collaboration solution online.

In this guide, we will try to provide you with a sound approach to :

  1. Identify the pain

  2. Evaluate your requirements,

  3. Select the best product corresponding to your specific requirements

  4. Proceed smoothly to its deployment.​


Define the pain

​​

  • If you are looking to set-up a collaboration platform, you probably identified some difficulties in your current situation.

  • The first step is to write down the identified problem in the AS-IS situation.

  • Be sure to describe the problem first, do not think about the possible product that would solve the issue at hand or any other workaround.

e.g

  • "We" are not able to easily share information with our suppliers

  • "We" are not able to track the status of the task at hand


Define the main objective of the project.

It may seem obvious and unnecessary, but it is crucial to define the main objective of the project. The communication around this objective is essential to assure a wide adoption of the solution.

Web Collaboration is a very generic term, and each product in this category will be more appropriate to solve a specific subset of issues.

Assign a responsible for conducting the project

Whatever the size of your team, you need to have someone specifically in charge of the project. 

For Whom are you working?

  • It is essential to start by identifying who are the future users of your platform. Start by identifying the roles in your organization or teams. Of course, the users could also come from outside of your organization.

e.g.:

  • UG1: RH

  • UG2: SALES

  • UG3: CLIENTS

  • UG4: SUPPLIERS

This way, you can involve all the stakeholders in the phase concerning the requirements.

Identify the number of users in each group.

Define the user group


Be sure to get around the table someone to represent each department or user.

Objectives validation or finetuning

The pain identified as the driver for the project is probably shared by the other members of your new user groups. However, it's essential to assert that it is the case.

  • Explain the pain identified

  • Present the main objective

  • Get the feedback from the group

  • Refine the expression of the pain with more specific examples

  • Ask the participants to define the impact in front of the pain identified

  • Very Impacting​ > Make it very difficult to work efficiently 

  • Impacting > Would be an improvement

  • Slightly Impacting > would be more comfortable.


Try to get 2 or 3 examples from each participant.

e.g. :

  • P1: RH departments: for us,  it's challenging to share information with each employee 

  • P2: Accounting: The data transmitted by our clients, is locked in our mailbox and when one of us is not at the office, it's challenging to retrieve the information

Table Department x pain x impact


For each department, you will identify the pains and evaluate the associated impact.

Translate pain into requirements

Based on the main objective and the identified pains, define the requirements you expect to find in the solution and the corresponding pain it is supposed to solve (Px)

We need :

  • R1: Instant messaging solves P1, P2

  • R2: Document sharing solves P3

  • R3: Forms Management

The following list represents a standard set of features available in collaboration tools. Be sure to add your requirements if necessary.

  • Forum

  • Document Sharing

  • Custom data management

  • Template Edition

  • Task Management

  • Access level

Beyond user requirements

The following vital factors also need to be taken into consideration.

  • Search: When the stored documents stacks-up in your collaboration platform, it might become more challenging to retrieve information if a search engine is not available. 

  • Ease of deployment: Don't overlook the effort, the price, and the delay to deploy the selected solution. A Saas (Software As A Service) Solution is immediately available online; you don't have to take into account any technical aspect of the installation. On the other hand,  depending on the expertise inside your company, you may prefer to install an application on-premise and have more control over the architecture and the hardware. 

  • Data Portability: This isn't generally the first aspect one will think of when selecting a new product. However, it's crucial to check that you will be able to export your data if you decide to choose another solution.

  • Security:  Of course, you expect the information you store on a dedicated platform to be safe. You may have to check that the security level is compatible with your internal requirements. 

  • Mobility: Keep in mind that more and more of your users expect to be able to switch devices and locations without losing the ability to edit or review documents, tasks, or any other information shared on their platform. An offline storage feature, to allow access without any active connection, may also be necessary when traveling or wherever the Internet would not be accessible.

  • Collaboration with external stakeholders: An essential part of our work involves connecting and exchanging information with people from outside the company (clients, suppliers, pairs, etc.). Don't overlook this requirement and its impact in terms of security. You should be able to get access to some information while at the same time protecting some sensitive data by restricting access.


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