The value of collaboration

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social fish

John Stepper has an awesome series of posts about the value of collaboration, which I wanted to point you to if you haven’t seen it.  He’s talking from the point of view of a huge company, but I think a lot of the lessons still apply even if the savings numbers are smaller – and if you think how hard it is to make changes for a company with 50,000 staff (or whatever), then there’s no excuse for not doing it for an organization with 50 staff.

The Value of Collaboration #1: Reducing internal service costs

This isn’t a new idea. Companies have repeatedly shown the value of doing this with their customers. Now, though, you can readily apply the same tools and practices inside your firm.
The solution has 4 parts:

Use the collaboration platform to store answers you already have.
Post all new issues as forums on the platform (and nudge users to post their issues there as well).
Recognize and rewards users who provide feedback or help answer questions.
Assign a curator for every application support team and every help desk who’ll be responsible for content and for interaction with users online (monitoring and responding).

IT and HR teams are already doing most of this this work. They’re just doing it – and doing it less effectively – on their own information islands. By coordinating support efforts around the use of a searchable set of forums, you make a single, universal search box the point of user contact instead of a phone number.

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The Value of Collaboration #2: Reducing how much your firm prints

I used to print and file everything – handouts from every meeting I attended, every document I commented on. Now, at work, I can store all those docs on the firm’s collaboration platform and access them via an iPad. That shift has reduced my printing costs to zero.
For those who don’t have this setup, simply changing templates and getting everyone to switch can reduce toner costs by 15%. Setting defaults to double-sided printing can reduce paper consumption by half.
The key is to spread the new behaviors across the firm.
Given all the alternatives, you could realistically cut printing by half within your firm. To realize $6 million in savings, you’d only have to reduce printing by 20%.

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The Value of Collaboration #3: Reducing Blackberry costs & mobile phone bills

The main reason everyone originally got a Blackberry in the first place was mobile access to email. Now, though, technologies like Good and MobileIron are making it increasingly common for people to access their corporate email and calendar (and even documents and the intranet) via their personal iPhones, iPads, and other devices.
Unlike Internet access, it won’t be as simple as a change in policy (“In 2013, the firm will no longer pay mobile phone bills.”). Solutions involving personal devices are sometimes intrusive requiring, for example, that individuals let the firm install corporate software on their device, monitor usage at certain times, and wipe all the data on it. And you can’t force everyone to accept that.

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The Value of Collaboration #4: Reducing the cost of internal communications

The solution involves replacing traditional intranet tools with a social platform and replacing traditional Comms practices with a greater reliance on employees publishing and sharing information.A modern social platform makes self-publishing at work as easy as it is at home. They tend to support a wide range of content (sites, documents, video, photos, blogs, discussions). Search works extremely well. And the best ones have social and mobile features as core elements of the platform. In all the benchmarking we’ve done, almost every firm that introduced a modern platform has eliminated old tools and greatly reduced their use of dedicated staff or design firms for customization.

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The Value of Collaboration #5: Using purposeful communities to optimize spend

One way to bridge the gap between a firm’s consumers and payers is to organize communities around specific kinds of work. Then, you influence people in the communities to look for ways they can eliminate waste or otherwise get more value for money the firm spends related to the work they do.
Two specific kinds of communities include role-based communities of practice and vendor communities. For example, an IT department would have communities organized around specific roles such as developers, testers, and project managers. As a natural part of doing the work – e.g., posting questions, sharing lessons – community members can expose process deficiencies and work out better ways of optimizing the use of shared resources.

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Anything to add to these?  Have you saved costs or resources or time using online communities or your intranet?


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