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5 Reasons to Invest in Document Collaboration Tools

  • By Ivan Walsh
  • February 09, 2011
  • No comments

There’s an interesting scene in the movie Avatar where the protagonist uses collaborative video software to submit status reports, instead of old-fashioned Microsoft Word documents. In the lobby afterwards, my friends and I got talking about the pros and cons of using video for collaboration and also why Document Collaboration tools tends to work in some business scenarios and not others.

Why Invest in Document Collaboration Tools?

The first question is why adopt Document Collaboration software? After all, you’ve done very well up to this point. Do we really need to spend all this money on new systems? Maybe it will make things worse. And, for some companies, this is what happens. While they have the best intentions, their implementation strategy fails to generate the expected returns.

Some reasons to adopt Document Collaboration Tools are to:

  1. Add value across the organization
  2. Improve existing business processes
  3. Remove silos that exist between business units
  4. Enable teams to work remotely
  5. Fast-track product development

Most implementations breakdown when Document Collaboration Tools are not aligned to specific goals. Unless you identify where the tools will add value, it’s hard – if not impossible – to determine whether it works or not.

Why Document Collaboration Tools Fail?

In reality, the tools don’t fail. Rather the organization is not ready to bring the tools into the business.

For example, if a company has an inflexible ‘command and control’ culture, then making the transition to a more collaborative system is likely to create friction and misunderstandings between users and middle management.

Unless the Document Collaboration software is championed by Senior Management and genuinely seen as an opportunity to improve business processes, skeptical types will highlight its failures, undermining its success in the process.

Remember, tools offer the potential for collaboration.

They don’t make a company collaborative; the way they’re woven into the fabric of the organization is what really matters.

How to Make Document Collaboration Work

If we accept that the tools are… just tools, then how they can be used for greater effect?

Here are some ideas:

  • Modernize the Company Culture – Examine how your teams will benefit from collaboration. Look at how competitors use these tools and see where this gives them an edge. Then create a Business Case for one team and explore the costs. Can you afford NOT to use these tools?
  • Introduce Tools By Phase – Instead of launching a new document collaboration application across the entire organization, implement it for one business unit and use this for internal testing.
  • Get Management Buy-in – Identify a Champion that will encourage the adoption of the new system and give it the necessary support at an executive level.
  • User Testing – Get your colleagues to try the tool. Did it work as you expected? Did they achieve the goals you set? Identify the shortcomings and look at how to resolve these before proceeding to a company-wide launch.
  • Align Tools and Business Processes – Look for ways to link the software into your business processes. Use this to demonstrate how it adds value, for example, by streamlining development or accelerating the document review process.

In addition to this, look at where the software could help with developing new products and improving customer-facing services.

What else would you add?

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