What Is Collaboration


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Definition of the different types of collaboration ranging from business process centric environments to ad hoc environments

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What Is Collaboration

  1. 1. What is Collaboration and what does Collaboration Software do? Collaboration in a business sense is essentially the process of working jointly with at least one other person typically with the goal of producing something literal and usually leading to the production of ‘something’ containing intellectual value. The history of Collaboration Before the advent of electronic collaboration or collaboration software, the general process for creating collaborative documents or content was time consuming, difficult to enact, often only linear and very manual. In most organisations, collaboration took two forms; documented business processes that required that the information was passed from one place or • employee to another, being added to or amended at each stage by each contributor in the process. In this way content such as order forms, complaints, sales enquiries, product development or anything that needed multiple contributions would be (usually) manually transferred through the organisation. ad hoc events would be events that could not be turned into a routine of business process – but • would require that individuals come together or work together to create a collective output such as meetings. The evolution particularly of Microsoft Office, Email exchanges and Document Management Systems meant that suddenly content could be converted to electronic format and made available to all contributors in a business process without being manually transferred – for both linear and simultaneous input. Collaboration today Collaboration software has evolved to become a term that is used to describe any tool that helps people electronically work with each other on a variety of content types in a variety of non paper based ways. As such collaboration software can be found embedded in a number of different applications. All collaboration tools have the primary business benefit of improving the efficiency of how individuals electronically communicate and work jointly with each other – which in turn improves productivity of an organisation and reduces traditional costs associated with the manual processing of collaborative content. As in the days when collaboration was non electronic, collaboration software tools can be broken down into two main categories – those that are business process centric – and those that are ad-hoc collaborative products. Business process centric collaboration tools are often more closely linked with the way that a • business chooses to run re-occurring events such as purchase orders. For example when an order is received it may have to go through a defined number of actions before a product is shipped. Most process centric tools are given the term ‘Business Process Management Software – aka BPM’. Ad-hoc collaboration tools are everywhere! Within a business environment examples would be • email, text messages, calendars, group discussions, online meetings, white-boarding. Other emerging technologies such as chat rooms, bulletin boards, forums and blogs are becoming increasingly popular with the advent of Web 2.0 and are increasingly finding their way into the corporate environments. The main characteristic of an ad-hoc collaboration tool is that it is invoked by the user. For example – content contributor A may decide to send an email to a group of five other contributors B to F – and ask that they look at a word doc they have written and comment or amend – or it could be to arrange an online meeting to discuss a new product idea without having to get everyone to attend a given location. Both ad-hoc and business process software are centric to many of the more Enterprise Content Management solutions – but both have a place and a value in an organisation. Its also worth considering that even solutions that don’t belong to the Gartner ECM Quadrant of Enterprise players have evolved to have integrations with
  2. 2. many of the tools that would be included under the banner collaboration software. As a result collaboration is now an extension of many of the other types of Content Management Systems that are available on the market as well as tools in their own rights. Copyright notice: This document and the version available on the website and its associated content are copyright of quot;contentmanager.eu.comquot; © quot;contentmanager.eu.comquot; 2008. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following: • you may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only • you may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the website as the source of the material You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.