While the concept of cloud collaboration is catching on at a quick pace, several new and wanna be entrepreneurs still seem to have a hazy, if not a crystal clear idea of what it is all about.
Simply put, cloud collaboration is an online communication system that mobilizes employees and virtual teams to work together on a project that is hosted in the cloud. The projects and the associated documents and files can be accessed at any time, from any place and can be shared and modified by several (authorized) users simultaneously. These documents and files are stored outside of the company firewall.
In modern times, small businesses mushroom overnight without having a fixed office space. Because of this, employees operate from different locations and regions and work towards achieving the same goal. And thanks to collaboration tools, more often than not, they do achieve them. Hence, it can be said that collaboration is the key to the success of any business.
Small businesses, in particular, stand to gain from such systems and use them for better communication and increased productivity. Additionally, these systems are cost-effective and make decision-making quick and easy.
However, incorporating and implementing such systems into your daily business operations can take time.
How Cloud Collaboration Works
Cloud collaboration starts when a team commences work on a project and one user creates a file/document and gives access to the other teammates for working on/viewing/editing it with him.
Users can make changes to the file/document at any time, including when other team mates are still working on or viewing it. All the modifications are saved and synced to enable all the users to view the same information.
Today, there are several cloud collaboration vendors, with each trying to further modernize their product to attract customers. Adding features that enable project participants to view who else is viewing the document, communicate with other participants through the chat function, or set up an email alert for when changes are made to a document are extremely common and serve their purpose well. Such features help increase the working pace, efficiency and productivity of all those involved.
If you’re sold on the idea of cloud collaboration and are looking to implement it in your organization, you’ll do well to keep the following suggestions in mind –
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- Garner Support
It goes without saying that cloud collaboration can be successful only if it finds support from everyone in the organization, particularly the top management.Several teams may find it to be helpful, but in order to truly enjoy all the benefits of a collaborative platform, it must be perceived as integral to the growth of the organization by the leadership. If this doesn’t happen, it will remain a department activity with limited benefits.It would help if the leadership uses, such a platform to be able to understand the kind of benefits and convenience it has to offer.
- Take One Thing at a Time
All great things take time, and so will this. Make sure you allot every process/phase involved considerable time as attempting to do too much too soon will surely result in collaboration failure. cloud collaboration practices are well-aligned with the business functions in a systematic manner will allow the new technology to be in cohesion with the user’s way of functioning. In other words, collaboration tends to work to its optimal capacity when teams have a shared understanding of their goals and the steps involved towards achieve them. Once a certain business goal has been achieved, the platform can be widened to include other goals and functions.
- Prepare for the Transition
Most companies opt to try out the free version of a collaborative platform before they can decide on adopting it completely. Once they taste success with the free product, they go on to make an enterprise-level transition. This switch, however, may not be as quick as easy as they hope.The new/paid version could differ from the free one in several ways. There could be differences in the UI, certain new features may require intensive training or more administrative controls, which could prove to be restrictive. You could encounter issues with migration when you try to move your data from the free version to the paid one.Do make it a point to be fully aware of the features and the restrictions that come with the transition in order to be able to prepare the users for it.
- Familiarize Your Staff
There is a high chance that almost all the end users will require some kind of training when acculturating to the new cloud collaboration platform. Providing this training is essential to help the employees figure out how they can use the new platform optimally to plug gaps and realize company goals. Apart from that, it is important to highlight governance policies and processes for handling sensitive and confidential data. Features from the collaboration platform can help you decide who can access which information and to what extent. They can also encourage employees to work together as a team.
- Plan for Data Recovery
It is always suggested to have a sound backup plan for your online and offline systems to count on during an emergency or system failure. It is, therefore, crucial that you know and understand the disaster recovery and business continuity characteristics of your service and ensure that they are in keeping with your corporate governance policies. It also makes sense to incorporate a module on offline access and/or backup instructions as part of the training during the transition phase.
With the dawn of cloud collaboration, several small and medium businesses are finding it easy to overcome a lot of technical and financial barriers that were hindering their dream of running a business flawlessly. Such systems are easy to use and provide simple solutions. However, it is important for organizations to take into consideration whether or not they can provide security and the administrative competencies that meet their compliance and governance requirements. Being thorough in your approach towards picking the right package will be instrumental in bringing about proper business alignment and success.