More and more businesses now rely on collaboration with externals (think of externals as agencies, clients, freelancers, investors, stakeholders, even team-members and parents these days) in their day to day work. Over the last year this requirement to collaborate with externals on projects has become more important than ever yet we're still having trouble streamlining the asynchronous part of the collaboration process - which hinders productivity and progress.
It's about time we face these asynchronous collaboration struggles head-on. Let's dive deeper into what these challenges look like and learn how to overcome them when working on creative projects with externals.
Asynchronous collaboration is collaboration between two parties or more that doesn't happen at the same time. On the other hand, synchronous collaboration is well covered, think Zoom, Skype, Slack, etc that allow two or more parties to communicate simultaneously.
Asynchronous collaboration is the troublesome one, and currently, there isn't that perfect tool that offers the right solution....or is there?
As a result of this missing magical tool, we need to adopt multiple tools to cover the problem. Still, generally, this "so-called solution" only adds complexity and cost to our collaboration projects.
Here are some of the fundamental elements of asynchronous collaboration activities we need to get right to start seeing the results we need.
Section 1: Transparent project planning
Creators need to develop a clear project structure where it's possible to explain or show a project's plan to key external stakeholders.
A well thought-out project structure should include:
Overview & alignment from start to finish
Project managers should plan all the details of a project and activities, and some essential elements of a good overview are:
- Simplify a vast amount of information into a universal format
- Makes it easy to understand the progress of a current project
- Be accessible from anywhere, anytime
- Be up to date and informative
- Creates a visual representation of a project workflow
- Archiving records of previously completed tasks that can be referred back to
Plus, transparent project planning must include:
Businesses in a good cross-organizational collaboration environment can create and communicate clear milestones easily. A collaborative effort allows them to schedule tasks and keep responsible individuals and external teams informed. This way, they can track their progress in a particular project and determine where they are and where they should be to make the necessary adjustments.
Clear Tasks for Both Organizations with Deadlines
Once clear milestones are set, project owners can now develop clear tasks with deadlines. Deadlines are a critical aspect of a clear project structure because they help achieve small and large objectives. Through collaboration, businesses can set strategic, arbitrary deadlines to lead them to their desired goals and objectives.
Current barriers to successfully achieving transparent planning: As part of our research into existing project management tools, the current challenges are the inability for businesses to share projects with external stakeholders. They have no way to limit what the external stakeholders have access to within the tool. So either they share everything or nothing, and in most cases, the former is chosen.
Section 2: Good Communication abilities
Another requirement we need to focus on to build a winning cross-organizational collaboration partnership is good communication between the different organizations, which is integral in all functions within the project. Without good communication, project productivity can very quickly suffer, as one project stakeholder might be unaware of progress or tasks that depend on them.
Communication can also promote motivation by informing team members about completed tasks, giving everyone a feeling of accomplishment and progress.
How can we better streamline the communication channels for asynchronous partnerships?
Limiting the Number of Channels of Communication to Keep Things Simple
Having too many communication channels can create confusion and lead to misinformation among stakeholders. Through effective cross-organizational collaboration, businesses should reduce the number of communication channels and implement those that are key to keeping team members engaged, productive, and aligned to a project's long-term and short-term goals.
Limiting the Number of Tools Use To Create Work
Even though different tools can include various benefits used to enhance productivity for different content types, however using so many of them simultaneously can be detrimental. They can lead to confusion when sharing work or the notifications for externals might be missed or ignored, as a tool is not familiar. Organizations should invest in technology that reduces the reliance on content creation tools to a minimum or at least ensures only one platform is used to store and share the content.
Limiting the Number of Tools Used To Share Work
As eluded to above sometimes various tools are needed for content creation, so perhaps the perfect workflow is to find a tool supporting and storing all these content types and allowing you to collaborate centrally from one central place. At least this workflow will reduce complexity for the externals.
Current challenges within file sharing applications: the restricted nature of content types that can be stored, the accessibility for the external partners and the severely limited collaboration features.
Section 3: The Seamless Collaboration Workflow
One of the most important elements of cross-organizational collaboration is a seamless workflow, and this can be achieved in the following ways:
Instead of having organizations share work with their teams individually, effective cross-organizational collaboration enables them to store and share work from one location, to everyone and the ability to manage access. This enhances better project management, limits outdated file versions, makes workflow tracking easier, improves team participation and engagement, increases efficiency, and reduces project costs. Additionally, organizations can identify problems with ease and solve them before they escalate into a crisis.
No Barriers for Externals
Choose a tool that makes it easy for externals to access and use. This improves productivity, saves costs, improves team members' satisfaction, and enhances the attainment of a project's goals and objectives. The adoption of a universal collaboration tool will boost the worlds productivity levels.
The ability for multiple collaborators to work on a document at different times with a clear comment and update loop. Requesting feedback and actions from approvers and team members is a must for effective collaboration.
Supporting Multiple Content Types
A problem we face is the need to use a number of different platforms all designed for different content types, not just complexity is being added but also cost to. What if one tool was able to manage the content types we need it?
Currently to make the above process kind of work we use a range of tools and applications: Emails, G-drive, Slack, Microsoft Teams, WeTransfer, Trello, Asana, Monday.com, Filestage, Figma's, etc etc etc. Is this sustainable?
Let's simplify this process to boost results.
Collato brings the key collaboration components into one solution - visual workflows, simple file storing and sharing, streamlined collaborative communication channels, all from one tool.
Try Collato as your universal collaboration tool today, and see how your productivity and collaboration will be improved.
Learn more here.