How can businesses collaborate more effectively?
The costs of collaborating
Migrating to a new platform may involve some setup costs, but once you’re up and running, collaborative working ought not to push up your management costs. “You shouldn’t need an admin to run your collaboration system,” Rogers assured us. “We naturally organise ourselves in ways that feel right, and the idea is to underpin that.”
“Many small businesses go through stages where they need more manpower, but they don’t need to recruit a full additional person,”
In fact, collaborative working should pay for itself – not least through increased efficiency. “Many small businesses go through stages where they need more manpower, but they don’t need to recruit a full additional person,” noted Tomlinson. Adopting collaborative working methods postpones the day when you need to expand your headcount.
Collaborative working is also a perfect fit for flexible subscription- based services. “It used to be that you’d spend a few hundred quid buying a copy of Office for everyone,” Tomlinson said. “Then a few years later Microsoft would bring out a new version and yours would be out of date. But Microsoft has said that in the next 12 to 18 months it expects 50% of SME spend to move toa recurrent revenue model. What that means is that the need to budget capital for systems will decline.” “These cloud-based offerings are the most flexible and cost-effective collaborative tools,” agreed Chris Martin. “They allow businesses the flexibility of commissioning and decommissioning project teams as they’re needed.”
Lastly, because collaborative working relies on the idea that information should be available at any time, from any device, it’s a natural partner to remote-working and BYOD models. This creates an opportunity to save money. “Most people have a smartphone or a tablet, and they tend to download work apps without really worrying about it,” observed Tomlinson. “From a business point of view that’s great news, because you don’t have to pay for those devices.”
As we’ve noted, collaboration is about improving employee effectiveness – an implementation that makes life easier, rather than creating an extra layer of bureaucracy for staff to deal with. “Identify what it is that you want to improve, then work out how being collaborative is going to achieve that,” reiterated Rogers. “Don’t get too clever,” added Tomlinson. “We’ve seen companies develop collaborative SharePoint and intranet sites that nobody uses, because they’re just too complicated. Don’t get so obsessed with things such as security that you end up with something that’s virtually unusable as a collaboration platform. Yes, be secure – but also be sensible.”