You might have experience with the phenomenon – tools like Yammer, SharePoint, Slack or similar for social collaboration, team collaboration or project collaboration are launched internally and the engagement is great in the beginning, but after a while it fades away and we question the value and the tool itself.
Usually there is nothing wrong with the ambitions or functions – the real problem is often that the tools are launched without a clear purpose that explains why we should use Yammer, SharePoint, Slack or similar. By defining the purpose at an early stage, it is a lot easier to implement the right tool, get the users on-board and identify activities that gets the desired effect.
Figure out the purpose of the collaboration
First and foremost, we need to identify the reasons that are there for the collaboration. Try to find people in the company that can come up with more suggestions than yourself. You can for instance have workshops with groups internally or conduct interviews. Then you will have a list of purposes for the collaboration that are relevant for your organisation – both purposes that are generic and widespread, but also targeted and specific.
Widespread purposes can be:
- Learning through knowledge sharing
- Support innovation and development
- Improve customer service through better problem solving
- Improve the engagement in the organisation
Targeted purposes can be:
- Help a department handle tasks
- Help project groups work efficiently
- Improve communication internally in a department
Prioritise using the company goals
The list of purposes can get long and you should select the purposes that are most important for the organisation. This should also be done by people from the business in for instance workshops. This ensures engagement in the execution.
The company goals are a good guide when prioritising. Put the goals on the wall and identify which collaborations and social interactions from the list can have the greatest effect on the goals. Examples on the company goals can be:
- Expand geographically
- Increased product development
- Get closer to the client
- Become a more flexible and agile organisation
By putting the goals for the company up on the wall it becomes easier to prioritise which reasons are more important. Then you can consider the effect a function provides in relation to the cost or difficulty of implementing it. This way you create a business case to motivate the effort from management.
Choose the tools and activities
The third step is to identify which tools are in the platform you have or have considered acquiring. Many tools can have overlapping functionality and you should consider the combinations and in which context the tools should be used.
Collaboration in a project can be quite different from the requirements of a department. The users that are collaborating might do it in different settings like concentrated in front of computer or using a mobile device on the go. Another example is news that can be distributed in different ways – by a news function, in a blog or a collaborative forum. These are also factors that can affect the decision making process of which tool to use.
Determine the support activities
Activities that might be needed could be education or promotional campaigns to lift the knowledge level or create new insights. But it is also important to justify the change and work method where the tools are being used to achieve the desired effect.
The management should also point out some of the functionality and set the direction for how the organisation should work, and lead by example by using the tools the way they are intended. This way the organisation will follow.
Measure the effects
The last step is to measure to see if the desired effects are achieved. What is measured can be statistics on how many people are active in a forum, how many comments or posts are added or how many workgroups are started. It can also be engagement measuring through questionnaires or interviews. By measuring along the way you can also get information that affect which activities are done to achieve the goals.
So, a clear purpose and setting goals for the tools you intend to use is important to get the desired effect from the collaboration tools. To prioritise you should look at the company goals to see which collaboration contributes the most to the business. Furthermore, we need to guide and support our users so they become superusers on the tools. Good luck with your collaboration on the intranet!