What is the situation in some organisations today?
In many organisations today employees or associates are freely creating virtual spaces in which they can collaborate with colleagues freed from geographic boundaries. These virtual spaces are known as teamspaces, teamsites, collaboration spaces, workplaces to name a few examples and form a key backbone of any Digital Workplace.
These spaces are great places to work around unstructured content, co-author documents (policies, reports, requirements catalogs, product descriptions, ..) and are frequently used for project work. Especially for the latter, the use of such a space is typically time-limited as a project has a defined start and end date.
However, what we find time and time again in many organisations we are working with on the subject of Digital Workplace – these spaces are quickly created but then left to their own devices. As a result these spaces mushroom in numbers and the data or content in these spaces is not being looked at. These spaces become dead spaces with dead content, not generating any benefit for the organization.
Why is it critical to manage Collaboration Spaces?
There are two issues with regards to not actively managing collaboration spaces.
First is the problem with not seeing the wood before the trees. Meaning that due to the proliferation of collaboration spaces over time, employees are not able to find the right space quickly. This is particularly annoying for new starters, who are trying to navigate the internal information systems of their new employer. These people are usually spending an awful lot of time just figuring out which space is worth collaborating in.
The second bigger problem is the content stored within these spaces, especially content stored in dead, forgotten spaces. This content poses two key challenges for organisations.
- In order to really generate benefits from a company wide Digital Workplace, the content must be available easily to all employees to reduce rework and ensure that intrinsic knowledge is being captured and made available. Content stored in dead spaces is not part of this. It does not support knowledge building. It does not lend itself to be reused, as it is not known content.
- In addition, only because the content is not being used and actively managed, this does not mean that the content has no legal implications. Product Tests, Reports, Design Decision Documentation etc can still be required in case of court cases or legal obligations. It is usually advisable to actively manage content, in the context of collaboration spaces, this means actively managing the container which holds this content.
What can be done/ How to manage Collaboration Spaces?
In order to effectively manage the lifecycle from creation to disposal of Collaboration Spaces a number of considerations should be taken.
- How do we open a space, more importantly why and what criteria are required for a new space?
- How do we manage changes to a live collaboration space?
- How do we dispose of a collaboration space?
- What criteria must be met for a space to be archived, disposed, deleted? What happens to the content?
- How do we manage access to a collaboration space (this could be internal and external)?
- How do we make all of this as easy as possible (e.g. part of a self-service offering)?
Target Operating Model
In order to manage spaces and therefore provide answers to the questions above organisations are developing Target Operating Models for their Digital Workplaces, which also cover the Lifceycle Management for Collaboration Spaces.
Such a Target Operating Model covers the areas of Service Catalogue, Platform Governance and Service Processes.
Employees can visit the published service catalogue for the Digital Workplace platform and can see what services are being offered.
The Service Decision Criteria details what information must be provided in order for an employee to request and create a new collaboration space. These criteria vary from organization to organization. Some organisations adopt a low level approach, meaning most spaces will be created, other organisations require formal approvals for space creation in order to tightly manage the creation of content within these spaces.
Platform Governance Guidelines detail out how these spaces should be used and what happens when a space reaches the end of it’s lifetime.
Likewise the Information Lifecycle Definition Documentation details out what happens with the content and information stored within spaces which are to be archived off (e.g. only major documents are being archived, work in progress documentation will be deleted).
Finally the Service processes for the creation of spaces and the management of changes and incidents must be described and linked back to the platform guidelines.
Organisations going through this rigorous Target Operating Model definition will find themselves managing information and content much better, seeing higher level of reuse and critically are able to find information when they need it.
This in turn leads to a higher productivity amongst the employees and reduces the amount of rework.
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