Contemporary Collaboration

Reduce stress and increase productivity with the right process and tools.

A study conducted by Frost & Sullivan, “Meetings Around the World: The Impact of Collaboration on Business Performance,” defined collaboration as “an interaction between culture and technology such as audio and Web conferencing, email, and instant messaging.” But today, that’s only scratching the surface. The modern workplace has become so cluttered with platforms and tools that for every problem solved, new and different problems arise. 

To start with, consider that collaborative work environments come in different geometries:

  • Different businesses that work together but maintain their independence
  • Large organizations assisting smaller ones
  • One large parent organization that oversees a group of subordinate organizations
  • Startups that leverage multiple partnerships for shared outcomes
  • A merger that forms a new organization in order to work cohesively 
  • Large or small teams working together in an organization

It is becoming increasingly harder to maintain effective project management across teams with the amount of different platforms and tools at our disposal. Let’s say there are 3 teams of 6 members each in your organisation. Each team takes it upon themselves to adopt the appropriate software for their needs. Pile on the blanket software you’re using as an organization (slack, dropbox, email etc.) and suddenly you’re at possibly dozens of accounts with unique interfaces, log ins, price points, and features. This sprawl consumes finances and mental capacity which could otherwise be allocated toward the projects themselves. You also have to contend with non-standard data and resources strewn across multiple accounts and platforms making holistic overviews and reporting impossible. Did you get a little stressed out just thinking about it? Us as well. 

Time for a clinic on contemporary collaboration.

The Benefits & Elements of Team Collaboration 

Boost the project management process

Cloud based software allows you to connect and share information with anyone you give permission to. This allows for sharing information and collaborating across teams or organizations much faster and easier for all parties. You can run reports and pull resources with the click of a box or a field selection.

Easy deployment and maintenance 

Most software requires little time to sign up and maintain within your organization without the hassle of costly and time consuming hardware upgrades. There can be a learning curve in the new interface as well as taking time to implement systems into your workflow and get all resources upload but once done, you’ll be saving time and money for years to come.

All files and data in one place 

By using cloud based platforms, you can manage your projects all in one place and keep the supporting documents, data, and resources in one place and accessible from any of your devices. No more searching for attachments in email or trying to pull reports from 4 different places.

Great scalability

With cloud based software managing all of your projects you can add on resources, use more features, and grow your team as the demand grows. With a wider overview of your work, you’ll be able to manage fluctuations in demand and growth without adding much cost and allowing you to scale for users, workload, and adoption.


Defined roles

You and your team will need to define and lay out the roles of each individual in order to create an efficient flow of work where everyone knows what their duties are and where they can add value. The earlier you do this, the more productivity you’ll experience.

Open communication with teams

Facilitate and model communication methods so information is shared easily and freely to enable each individual and, therefore, team to be the best versions of themselves and develop a deep understanding of the project and client needs, all in one place.

Deep understanding about goals and methods

Lack of alignment and understanding keep teams wasting endless cycles with slow or no progress. Similar to how you define your roles, your teams will need to agree upon the goals and milestones of projects and how to get there. Each individual can work in the way that best suits them but they need to be working toward the same end.

Vulnerability and honesty with the ability to take responsibility 

Encourage and model behaviour that allows teammates to take responsibility for their wins and losses, their mistakes and their accomplishments.

Self-discipline in tending to your section of the garden

Each individual within a team, as well as each team should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities with the autonomy to own and make informed decisions in order to accomplish goals and milestones. 

“During the last two decades, professional environments have undergone a shift. While, in the past, most people got ahead only by competing with their peers, the modern workforce now only progresses when people work together well.”

How to implement effective collaboration 

Map out your Current Infrastructure

When making changes to the platforms we work with, an important first step is mapping what platforms we use and figuring out a hierarchy. Platforms and their interactions can look highly enmeshed unless we work on differentiating them by mapping out how everything works together. Think about all the systems you use to get your work done. Do you imagine a tangled web or is there a clear and consistent hierarchy that everyone understands?

Create an existing future state map

  • Existing State – Do the best you can to map how existing systems interact with each other. Start high level and work down to the level of detail that makes sense. (Example Below)
  • Target State – Take the same systems and reorganize them so that very few platforms make up the ‘peak of the pyramid’. If some systems are missing, add placeholders so you can explore those capabilities later.
  • Reconfigure integrations and workflow so that the apex systems represent the single source of truth and drive the mastered and compartmentalized data across the other platforms.

Determine where there is overlap between systems and where you have resources and project docs distributed across multiple software. Are teams using similar systems that could be merged into one? Could you use a tool like Zapier to integrate tools and actions into one foundation system?

Set Goals and Define the End State

A key consideration when implementing any system is defining what your ideal end state looks like. it’s tempting to start with a big scope but even with a broad conversion planned, you have to break down the specific changes and sort them into an approachable order.

Use SMART goals.

This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Teams should set SMART goals to foster technology use, break down silos, and open communication lines.

Define the end state

A solid scoping exercise will set the stage for a successful implementation. Get your key stakeholders together and start by documenting the answers to these questions:

  • What existing platforms are we looking to completely replace?
  • What existing processes are we trying to include?
  • What new functionality do we want to leverage?
  • What new processes will be possible?
  • What are we looking to make more efficient?
  • What steps can we automate?
  • What steps will we be able to skip entirely?

In preparing for the exercise keep these in mind:

  • Brainstorm and think big first, then start editing down to reality.
  • Even if you think you know what the scope is, do the exercise and document the results. It’s surprising how different people can have different interpretations of the same information.
  • If there is disagreement on scope elements or it seems impossibly large, make some buckets for ‘Definitely’, ‘Maybe’, and ‘Definitely Not’. Assign follow up action items for the ‘Maybe’ items to get them resolved.
  • If the scope still seems unmanageable, break it down again into self contained stages.

Determine roles and communication methods

For each team, define the roles of each individual and discern how they would like to work and spend their time in order for all team members to be cognizant of each other's needs, skills, and quirks. 

Develop a communication method and map out how you share information to prevent ambiguity or teams dropping the ball through lack of information. Be diligent with feedback and offer acknowledgment wherever possible.

In Summary

So there you have it. The building blocks of contemporary collaboration within teams and how to implement it effectively. If you’re looking to collaborate across organizations, you can check out this guide here. 

We hope this clinic has been helpful. If you would like help setting up your collaboration software and infrastructure, you can contact us here.

If you’re looking to implement Smartsheet into your organization, check out this adoption playbook that we put together to help you through the process.

Download your free ebook here 👇

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