What is Enterprise Collaboration? Here is our understanding : “Enterprise Collaboration enables employees of an organization to share information and work together with one another, external partners, and customers to create real business outcomes. Enterprise Collaboration encompasses people, processes, policies, and technologies”.
Inside an organization, enterprise collaboration appears under several aspects: collaborative business processes, expertise location, knowledge sharing, portals, cross-organizational workflows… Improving this multifaceted collaboration leads to several benefits such as cost reduction, quality increase, speed, and business agility. In practice, these benefits can be seen through e.g. the existence of blogs for executives and SMEs for increasing interactions with employees, the setup of Wiki’s for review cycles that enable faster feedback and cut the wasted effort.
All these aforementioned collaboration initiatives result from an effective enterprise collaboration strategy. By collaboration strategy, we rely on Forrester’s definition: “A collaboration strategy is a carefully engineered plan focused on the use of collaboration platforms and tools to solve business problems by optimizing interaction among people. It is tightly aligned with the high-level business strategy and closely tied to specific enterprise initiatives (e.g., knowledge management, communities of practice)“.
At Cambridge Technology Partners, this strategy articulates around three main steps.
Assess the collaboration maturity level: we first assess the collaboration maturity level inside the organization using our in-house developed maturity assessment model. This assessment includes several multiple choices questions. Specific stakeholders from an organization fill out the assessment and choose the answers that fit best the current and future situations. The collection of all these answers provides an overview of the current and desired collaboration vision. Several business requirements elicitation activities, e.g. workshops, interviews.., are also performed in order to complete and refine the vision. Moreover, the overall IT infrastructure is also assessed in order to determine what is and will be feasible or not.
Shape the strategy: collecting the business expectations and assessing the IT infrastructure enables us to align them. From this alignment, recommendations are developed. If an organization expects a radical change, a business transformation approach will be recommended, through which the areas, where collaboration happens inside the organization, will be completely changed. This approach can be complemented with business process re-engineering. However, if an organization is in favor of incremental changes based on the current ways of working, a use case approach would be preferred. This approach can be again complemented with business process improvement. In terms of technologies (e.g. infrastructure, platforms, applications) to use, the choice will go to the ones, who offer the best trade-off between serving the business needs and integrating with the organization’s IT landscape.
Finalize the strategy: it is time now to consolidate outputs of the previous steps into a strategy roadmap. This roadmap encapsulates the aligned vision and the recommendations to implement an effective strategy. The implementations are done through prioritized projects with specific timelines.
In a highly dynamic, fast-paced and inter-connected world, organizations need to be pro-active and react quickly. This can be greatly achieved by setting-up an effective enterprise collaboration strategy that increases workforce productivity, optimizes organization’s knowledge, reduces risk and increases workforce engagement.
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