5 Tips To Profit From Enterprise Collaboration
Enterprise collaboration is widely used by business enterprises, yet, there are only a select few businesses that use it profitably. Collaboration in business assumes different dimensions that cuts across people, data, productivity and connectivity and culminates in faster and more effective decision making. Modern day collaboration is about deploying a system for faster search, sharing and editing of information in order to transform initiatives into decisions.
It makes enormous good sense to suggest that the agility of a business enterprise is determined by the fluidity of information flow among different individuals, teams and communities of a business enterprise. As a company spreads thin across multiple locations and time zones, it becomes difficult to have man-to-man connect. The problem may assume especially high dimensions in multinational corporations that aim to be global citizens and in their quest to go global compromise on the complementary relationship that should exist among individual employees, teams and departments.
Very often the digital divide reaches such alarming proportions that business enterprises finds it difficult to maintain a balance between maintaining well defined reporting relationships, accountability and responsibility on one hand and the issues of coherent decision making among diverse groups.
1. Spot Points of Communication and Coordination Failure
In a world that is increasingly driven by flow of information and tools to connect fragmented individuals, teams and companies, asymmetry of information happens to be the single largest impediment to fluidity in decision making. Yet another dimension of the challenge for companies is to deal with coordination failure among individual employees and teams.
Asymmetry of information has since long been a challenge to business enterprises at the micro-economic level and as much an area of interest for business economists and managers across the world. The development and use of intranet portals is an endeavour to address the issues that arise out of information asymmetries. Modern day manifestations of information asymmetry have been summarized in different forms and ways by business leaders, business economists and managers.
While there are empirical evidences available on the effects of information asymmetry such as adverse selection of resources and inaccuracy in decision making, many of these point towards standard economic analysis of uncertainty in business and financial risks. Yet at the organizational level, financial risks and uncertainties are only manifestations of what lies beneath the surface.
Beneath the surface of these incidents of economic losses and financial risks lies the more latent cause of coordination failure. Coordination failure is in effect the real business phenomenon that most companies face in executing decision making. The key is to spot threats of asymmetry of information.
2. Resolve Coordination Failure to Enhance Collaboration
Ever since it was first discovered and crystallized in economic theory by the late Princeton economist John Nash, coordination failure has been a bone of contention for companies, teams and employees. In an instance when there are two individuals or teams involved in a situation with two strategic alternatives each, outcomes can differ. The situation can boil down to a crisis if the two individuals are separated by a digital divide.
In the presence of a digital divide at the work place, the two individuals are left to wildly guess the actions of each other and the corresponding pay-offs of those actions. The lack of a bridge between the two individuals reflects in indecisiveness about each other’s actions and thus leads to a situation where both are guided by individual incentive questions rather than joint profit maximization. The result could in most cases mean sub-optimal performance of the individuals, teams and the company as a whole.
|Individual/Team A||Individual/Team B|
|Commit to Client, Decline Client
(Win –Win Situation)
|Decline Client , Commit to Client
|Commit to Client, Commit to Client
|Decline Client, Decline Client
( Client Slips Away)
The basic four quadrant pay–off matrix shows the four different situations that are likely to arise in the event of an absence of collaboration between two individuals or teams with regard to making a commitment to a client. Assuming that a business is in talks with a new account to render customized services, there has to be continuous flow of information between the individuals and teams involved with sales and services delivery.
In the event of the sales team not communicating the promised offerings to the client, the services team is lurking in the dark when the client turns for the services that he has paid for or has been promised to him. This has the potential effect of the client getting dissatisfied with the classic case of many a sip between the cup and the lip.
Collaboration on the other hand between the personnel from the sales and services teams leads to the fulfilment of the commitment made to the account and thus results in customer delight. This is reverberated in the evolution of a win-win situation as shown in the first quadrant.
3. Improve Time and Task Management through Collaboration
Enhanced collaboration at the workplace results in improvement of time and task management. Across different functions that are executed in a business, lies the single most important question of optimizing on time and resources. The answers to the questions of time and task management are best formulated by having a clear demarcation of important and urgent tasks. In fact the categorization of tasks into important and urgent across the enterprise is based on the short and long runs of business.
Important tasks enhance effectiveness in the long run by aiding sustainability whereas urgent tasks improve operational efficiency in the short run. While there is no reason to assume that there is a trade-off between the two, yet a clear demarcation and communication of the same across teams and individuals sets the ball rolling for collaborative action on the basis of priorities. In fact it can also lead the way to deciding on crucial questions of tasks that should be done, those to be delegated, tasks to be scheduled and those that should be dropped from the to-do list. Enterprise collaboration serves the purpose of reducing wastages of time, effort and resources. It also enables diverse individuals and teams to align their action in the same direction and synchronize the same for the good of the organization.
4. Institutionalize Collaboration to Build a Participatory Work Culture
It is surprising that despite all the attention that is given to formal and structured written communication, most urgent decisions are taken before it gets inked on paper or mail. It is in this context that business leaders and managers must realize that urgent decision making is aided by unstructured and grapevine communication rather than structured communication. The institutionalization of collaboration works on the basis of connecting the right people at the right time and across any device or platform.
Moreover, by keeping everybody concerned on the same page, it improves decision making and inculcates a sense of organizational citizenship among employees thereby motivating them to speak up on issues where they can contribute towards the bottom line of the business. The usage of an intranet software enables enterprises to build a participatory work culture where by each employee is empowered to have a say in the decision making. This means that employees are empowered to take decisions and thus become more accountable for the same.
In reality this has the effect of enabling companies to make decisions at the point they ought to be made- where the company meets the customer. A customer centric orientation to business begins with the first customer of the business-the employee. As long as employees are allowed to collaborate in decision making across functions they will have the appetite to prune their behaviour towards customers according to the decisions made at the back end of the office.
5. Make the Back Office of the Company Portable
One of the recurring challenges that continue to haunt companies is the inaccessibility to huge volumes of important data archived in layers of files and folders in different work stations at the work place. Modern day business mandates employees and teams to be where the customer is. It is a statement of the obvious that a mobile target like a customer needs to be accessed with portable solutions to the challenges of data inaccessibility.
Intranet platforms enable companies to go platform agnostic and thus access data important to work and business decision making on the go. This means that employees can search through data, share information like with ease. For example sales and marketing are key functions of business that mandate field presence of employees. Easy access to back office documents enables sales and marketing personnel to focus on the customers without having to worry about issues of reach to devices and platforms deployed at the location of the back office. Undoubtedly it enables companies to have a more aggressive marketing orientation to business.
Enterprise collaboration thus generates ripples of benefits across three levels: employee, team and enterprise. It is an inverted pyramid that works from the ground up. Individual collaboration leads to job enrichment, higher job engagement and empowerment of employees. Team collaboration weeds out interdepartmental barriers and enterprise collaboration leads to the company working like a well-oiled machine with all components synchronized to move towards the direction of business growth. Precurio enables its clients to achieve these three levels of collaborative excellence.