Some of the greatest innovations in history are the result of collaborative work. Wilbur and Orville Wright joined forces to build the first powered aircraft. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak came together to create the Apple I computer, and music legends John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the hit song Hey Jude in 1968.
Unlike these examples, there’s more to collaboration than a light bulb moment created and shared by two geniuses. Collaboration is the sharing of knowledge, ideas and skills among individuals to increase competitive advantage.
It’s a process by which people work together on an intellectual, academic or practical endeavour. More than a feel-good marketing buzzword, collaboration is a time-honoured way to harness human talent, resources, goodwill and creativity to increase profits.
In this post we’ll outline four reasons why collaboration works. If you’re looking for evidence that electronic collaboration delivers results, read on.
- You save money
Electronic collaboration saves money across all parts of your organisation, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.
Reduced travel costs
As employees can share information and ideas from anywhere, barriers like distance and location are removed. Team members can connect in real time without spending time, energy and money on travel.
No need to recapture lost knowledge
Sharing knowledge through a tool like SharePoint also means corporate and specialist knowledge isn’t lost when employees leave your organisation. You’ll save money on retraining employees and boost productivity by reducing the need to recapture lost knowledge. Take for example, the Tax Institute of Australia, they have reduced their budget preparation and accuracy by over 4 days.
You don’t need your own server room
We know, hardware is expensive. However by choosing collaborative tools offered as software as a service (SaaS), you can access all of the benefits of collaboration without the high upfront costs.
- You save time
Collaborative tools are accessible from just about anywhere. Because they handle versioning issues with ease, you’ll spend less time fossicking for the most recent version of a file, leaving more time for thoughtful contributions.
This style of work also gives people more time to reflect on the current topic or issue. Contributions have greater depth and are less ad hoc and superficial than time-pressured comments in meetings or hallway conversations. For one not for profit organisation, that translated to over 400 work hours per month saved in procedure reporting.
What’s more, there’s always a record of past work. Revisiting what worked well in the past avoids reinvention and saves time and effort.
- Employees are more creative and engaged
Staff engagement and creativity increase when knowledge is shared and work is enjoyable. This type of work can be more stimulating and gives a greater sense of immediacy and empowerment. Wouldn’t you prefer to be co-authoring and collaborating than opening another inbox attachment? For Weight Watchers, staff have welcomed the down-scale of email communication and enjoy engaging in relevant and personal communication, including a ‘who’s who’ of staff in each department, employee profiles, social club news and even good news storied to help connect staff with clients.
Connections made with colleagues through chat and video calls enhance the sense of team and help to remove business, knowledge and human siloes. Work gets done more quickly and efficiently, which in turn increases profits.
- Collaboration feels good
Thanks to email and social media, most people are already comfortable expressing ideas and opinions in writing. Collaborative tools go one step further by adding an extra dimension to online communication.
Tools like Yammer or SharePoint Newsfeed give employees’ ideas more status and impact by making them available to others, rather than locking them away in the personal inbox ‘vault’. For most organisations like Hawthorn Football Club, this is something employees are used to, making it a smooth transition. Colleagues can comment or ‘like’ posts, which makes it easier to recognise involvement and contributions. This leads to a virtuous cycle of collaborative effort.
There’s no one right way to collaborate online. Different models are served by different tools, and you should talk to your vendor to find the right product for your needs. We recommend content management systems like SharePoint, which facilitate collaboration through a central hub.
Looking to learn more about intranets like SharePoint? Watch our video on why every organisation needs an intranet.