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    Top 5 warning signs that you need an online collaboration solution

    on 9 March 2017

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    Posted by Jacqui Hogan
    Top 5 collaboration warning signs

    Have you ever missed a deadline because you didn’t have the right document ready at the right time? Maybe it was just hard to find, or you weren’t sure what WAS the latest document? Perhaps the right person just didn’t approve it in time? Or even that it was sitting on your overseas colleagues’ server and now their office is closed?

    These are annoying, time consuming and …completely avoidable.

    1. Where is it?

    You know that key document is supposed to be on the main server in your personal folder, but you cannot find it because, for the life of you, you don’t remember what you called the file. You know you printed a copy, so it should be on your desk somewhere. Then when you find it in a sub, sub, subfolder, you have three or four slightly different copies. Or possibly one copy is a printed version, one is on your laptop, one is on the main server etc. But you can’t remember which the latest version is.

    With many copies of documents flying around, it can be difficult to know if you are looking at/editing the latest version. Then you still don’t know who changed what, or when. This is bad enough when one person is responsible for a document and even harder when many people are working on the same document together.

    You need a file sharing system to store your documents in one place, where you always know which is the latest version and where to find it.

    2. Is it approved yet?

    Isn’t it always the way? You spend days crafting the perfect document and then send it by email to your manager for approval. Then you wait. And wait. Unless your manager is in the same office as you, at the same time, you may not have the opportunity to ask them directly whether they received your document. Then, just as you approach your deadline, your manager comes back with a whole load of changes, and you end up working through the night to update your document. Frustrating isn’t it.

    If you are the manager, the last thing you need is your team members interrupting you and constantly asking ‘is it approved yet?’

    If you have an online collaboration system, everyone will be able to access and approve documents quickly and easily. It will allow you to communicate easily to everyone who needs to know about new or updated documents in any particular area. You can also check if they have read it, and approved it. For managers, giving approval is simply a matter of ticking a box online.

    3. Collaborating beyond the firewall

    Even as recently as five years ago, most of our work was done inside our organisation. Today, it’s mostly collaborative. Many of our clients or partners are not based within easy travelling distance; some are not even in the same country. Our suppliers are all over the world these days too. Sharing documents and projects with clients and suppliers has become much more interactive, with an exponential rise in the number of emails.

    You probably have shared areas for documents inside your organisation. Once you try to do this outside your organisation, suddenly you’re back to insecure email.

    Most organisations have a firewall to protect confidential information from getting into the wrong hands. We understand the need for keeping our data secure, but don’t want that security to get in the way of what we want to do. Sure, firewalls serve an essential purpose – keeping out the spammers and hackers. However, they can also block all the interesting interaction with the outside world too.

    A secure online collaboration system will have the same convenience of sharing documents internally without the risks of email. The documents and other information will always be available too, even when the overseas office are closed.

    4. A key person is leaving/retiring

    However hard we try, somehow knowledge seems to aggregate around key experts in your organisation. It accumulates in their heads, their Pcs and as paper on their desks or filing cabinets.

    Collecting your knowledge and experience in a shared knowledge base will keep it within your organization, reducing the risk of knowledge walking out the door when people leave or retire.

    Of course, while data is relatively easy to capture, knowledge often is not. For this reason, it is important to capture conversations as well as storing documents to form your knowledge base. The more knowledge you can capture as information about the activities your team participates in, the greater value your knowledge base will become.

    The best online collaboration systems facilitate and record social collaboration as well as documents and project interactions. Social collaboration encourages participation and contribution from your team, helping you capture knowledge as well as data. Your online collaboration system should allow sharing of news items, common calendars and feedback e.g. likes and comments.

    5. Your auditors tell you to improve your audit trail

    Even if you are not required to have an audit trail for compliance purposes, it is good practice to record an audit trail. A good audit trail will build internal management confidence as well as meeting the demands of your auditors or compliance requirements.

    A good online collaboration solution will automatically create an audit trail whenever you create, change or delete any information or documents.

    Looking for a file-sharing solution other than Dropbox? One of these three alternatives might serve your specific needs better.