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  • robinwcc2@gmail.com

In the last few months, I have started using business collaboration tools. First Lync, a communication platform, then SharePoint 2013 to manage documents (among others), and more recently Yammer, a Facebook-type social network. Other tools are also available. Although they each have their own particularities, they all aim to facilitate collaboration between colleagues.

The more I used the tools at my disposal, the more obvious their usefulness became. Several work processes that require some coordination with colleagues have become more efficient and fluid. Here are the 5 advantages of using collaborative tools in business.

1. Eliminate silo work and stay connected
SharePoint is a tool that centralizes documents. It is a platform on which people can insert and edit all types of Microsoft documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Ms Project, Visio, images, videos, etc.).

The main benefit of having employees work on the same platform and not on their respective virtual desktops is to eliminate siled (or freelance) work. If everyone works in their own corner, it is possible that conflicts arise: two people can start working on a similar project or make changes to a common document. We then double a job that one person could have done.

By using SharePoint by vastasys, we make sure that everyone is aware of what is going on in the company. We can see what our colleagues are doing and ‘tag’ someone to review a document, like on Facebook. The transparency is much greater, and the likelihood of confusion is lower.

For example, whenever someone starts writing a new article at OTI, other writers can immediately see the post title appear on SharePoint. By being aware of what others are doing, we avoid repeating ourselves and we keep control over the general direction of the blog. The tool therefore creates automatic coordination between team members.

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2. Decrease in emails and carbon copies (cc)
We all know that we can spend a lot of time managing our emails. You can find everything in emails: requests from our colleagues (urgent and less urgent), certified copies (cc), memos, communications with clients, newsletters, etc. Digging through all of this is long and inefficient.

By adding other communication platforms, we separate the types of messages, which makes their management easier and faster. Each tool has its purpose. We keep emails for communications with external clients, but we use Lync to ask colleagues for help. Instead of putting people in cc in an email, we can ‘tag’ them on Yammer posts. By separating the messages by category, we immediately know where to look to find a type of information, without having to dig through dozens of emails of all kinds.

3. Have a corporate memory
Another advantage of centralizing documents and communications is the development of a corporate memory. Collaboration tools can keep in mind all the stages of a project in an organized way: the different versions of a document, the people who worked on it and the ‘social network’ conversations associated with it on Yammer or SharePoint .

When an employee leaves for vacation and has to send his file to a colleague, this person can go and see all the information related to the project. He can therefore quickly understand what has been done and what remains to be done. Also, the transfer of knowledge between retiring employees and members of the company is easier. A new employee can also learn about the processes of his new employer thanks to this corporate memory of projects.

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4. Always have access to the latest versions of documents
With these tools, it is no longer necessary to exchange different versions of a document by email. Everyone has access to the same versions at all times, which can be updated directly on the platform. This avoids the problems of updating documents, which are moreover frequent with our customers.

For example, at one of our customers – a large retail company – each store independently managed the procedures from the head office and because these sometimes changed, some stores kept the wrong versions. By implementing SharePoint with the help of OTI, they centralized important documents to ensure that all stores always have access to the correct versions.

5. Remote work
Some companies prefer to use offline collaboration tools for security reasons. However, using them online has one major advantage: working remotely. We can thus have access to collaborative tools from anywhere, as long as we have an internet connection. This is useful for working from home, on the go (business trip) or for companies that use a dispersed ‘global’ workforce.

In short, tools like SharePoint, Yammer and Lync can bring productivity gains and make employees collaborate much more effectively than using just emails. As I mentioned at the start, there are tons of collaborative tools. And you, which do you use?