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FITT Toolbox: Tools for Internal Collaboration


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Communication tools are used to facilitate the exchange between different teams and to foster collaboration. The described tools are part of MFG knowledge management, taking into account recent developments, mainly regarding internet technologies. For technology transfer, the tools can help to improve exchange between researchers, between researchers and transfer officers and between researchers and companies. Hereby, the challenge is to implement tools that minimise collaboration efforts, can be used without extensive time consumption and are up to date.

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FITT Toolbox: Tools for Internal Collaboration

  1. 1. Tools for Internal Collaboration FITT– Fostering Interregional Exchange in ICT Technology Transfer – www.FITT-for-Innovation.euExcept where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
  2. 2. Communication & Collaboration ToolsCollaboration of people from different teams, institutions or companies: Inter- and intra-team collaboration need usable tools One-way communication vs. interactive communication tools Challenge: Implementation of tools  that minimise collaboration efforts  that are used without time consumption  that are up to date Technology Transfer involves different persons: researchers, TT officers, lawyers, companies, …2 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  3. 3. Tools in Practice: OverviewMFG’s internal communication andcollaboration tools consist of: MFG Intranet: Central platform for internal information MFG InnovationWIKI: MFG knowledge pool CRM: Community Relationship Management tool Pidgin: Instant messaging system 3 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  4. 4. Process in Practice: MFG Intranet Central platform for internal information and communication Used as front page on the web browser & door to other communication tools Structure: blog format (OS content management system TYPO3) • main part: blog postings • left side: links to other MFG tools • right side: feeds to the latest articles of the InnovationWIKI as well as to external news platforms Every MFG employee contributes with postings and comments4 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  5. 5. Process in Practice: MFG InnovationWIKI Internal knowledge pool of articles about MFG related topics Information on projects, tools, book reviews, conference reports as well as articles featuring trends Ever employee has an account and can read, write and edit articles Articles are linked with each other by direct links and categories, which enables to see connections between projects, experience and topics Structure on the front page:  a tag could with the categories,  a list with the most recently created articles and the most popular sites,  a “wish list” with articles that need to be created  some help pages with guidelines and instructions.5 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  6. 6. Process in Practice: CRM Community Relationship Management (CRM): more than a database with contact details CRM system helps to manage and administer the contacts of each project manager Relations to different target groups (regional – national – international; politics – science – industry) can be visualised and managed Links between persons and projects, events or documents Management of events: registration, mailings, etc. Proprietary software with some special modifications6 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  7. 7. Process in Practice: Instant Messaging Pidgin: instant messaging system Free software, only used internally Every employees has an account, usage is optional Tool for short messages, informal notes, reminders, etc. Amendment to telephone, email or direct communication7 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  8. 8. Timing When were the tools started? • MFG Intranet: July 2003 – first version – several updates since then • InnovationWIKI: October 2006 • CRM: Mai 2008 (current system) • IMS: October 2008 How is it organized? • MFG Intranet: everyone contributes, one person nominated for technical maintenance • InnovationWIKI: everyone contributes, one person nominated for technical maintenance, content and training sessions • CRM: one person nominated for technical maintenance and training sessions • IMS: one person nominated for technical maintenance8 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  9. 9. MFG Intranet PRO’s CON’s  Central platform to inform employees  For vivid contribution employees must be active and willing to  Browser front page with contribute connection to all communication tools  All posts can be commented   All employees can write postings, a communication culture and no central editorial person needed netiquette must be practised  Efforts for installation and maintenance are quite low9 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  10. 10. MFG InnovationWIKI PRO’s CON’s  Knowledge pool of MFG project,  Time consuming for employees topics and trends  Wiki contributors need to be  More than pure documentation: motivated – in general, there are Links between different articles, more passive than active users interactive format, collaborative way of editing  Administrator needed for technical implementation and the  More than 1.600 articles show a content side vivid contribution10 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  11. 11. Community Relationship Management PRO’s CON’s  More than a database: linking of  Costs, especially for the software different data  Human resources for  Connections between people, implementation and maintenance projects, documents, etc. needed (data and software)  Decentralised and collaborative  Training sessions for employees database11 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  12. 12. Instant Messaging System (IMS) PRO’s CON’s  Only used within MFG, for  Easy way to post links, external communication tools like comments, remarks and reminders Skype are used simultaneously direct to one person  Can be a waste of time if used for  Hardly no resources needed for chit-chat implementation and maintenance  Optional tool: not every employee uses IMS ( network effect)12 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  13. 13. Why?MFG Intranet • To have a central communication platform which is accessible for all employees • To have a central platform, where all other MFG tools are linked • To stop mailings which might get lost in crowded mailboxes • To have an up to date intranet, as all employees post their news • To have an intranet without an editorial team that manages the contentMFG Innovation WIKI • To create a central knowledge pool with articles about MFG relevant topics • To save knowledge and experience when projects end or project managers leave the company • To create a collaborative tool, where all employees can work together and contribute13 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  14. 14. Why?Community Relationship Management • To have a up to date / state of the art database solution • To manage efficiently the relations MFG has to politics, science and business • To create links between projects, persons and documents • To have a documented history for all contactsInstant Messaging  The instant messaging was first implemented and used by a small lead user group. Their acceptance was so high, that the tool was offered to all MFG employees. It supports the following actions: • To post short messages and reminders • To exchange opinion with one person14 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  15. 15. OutcomeThe tools are part of MFG’s knowledge management,which was recently awarded for its excellence bythe German Ministry of Economics and TechnologyMFG Intranet MFG Intranet became the central platform for relevant news Internal survey: Intranet was used and read by every employee at least once a day Integration of trends, e.g. the integration of new news tools like twitterMFG InnovationWIKI WIKI is a knowledge pool for MFG related topics and trends Currently more than 1.600 articles Internal survey found out that it is used by every employee Makeovers (e.g. limitation of categories) are planned15 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  16. 16. OutcomeCommunity Relationship Management The Community Relationship Tool was a significant improvement Internal survey: 80 per cent expressed their satisfaction about the tool and use it from every day to at least once a week The linkage between contacts and documents or projects is a huge advantage for MFG, in the future some more trainings to effectively use all the features of the database are plannedInstant Messaging Tool About 2/3 of MFG employees are using the instant messaging tool every day Reduction of internal phone calls and emails with little content As an optional tool, which every employee can integrate into his/her daily work16 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  17. 17. Lessons Learned Looking back now, what would you … • … do different? Nothing really… • … improve? Stronger user involvement, more surveys and feedback channels • … recommend to others? Ask the users what they need!17 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  18. 18. Lessons learned in Liège Implementation of the practice of MFG « Tools for Internal Collaboration » in Interface Entreprises-Université de Liège, Belgium (a member of the LIEU network)18 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  19. 19. Lessons learned in Liège • Context • LIEU/ULg was looking for professionnal and integrated solutions for internal communication, contact management, exchange of practical information, knowledge pool... • Study visit in June 2010: Interface Entreprises-Université de Liège visit to MFG facilities • Presentation of MFG tools • Easy to use • Well structured • Widely used • Good balance between communication and knowledge management19 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  20. 20. Lessons learned in Liège • Lessons learned • Proposed solutions • MFG advice : « Confluence » by Atlassian, a powerful Wiki • We wanted to use it as • an Intranet Portal • a « Wall » • a Wiki • Interface has no CRM and the team is too small to use efficiently a internal chat program • The blog system is included in Confluence but should not be used in short future • Adopted solutions • « Joomla » is our « home page » with numerous links and a Facebook-like wall • Confluence is our knowledge management tool and Wiki20 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  21. 21. Lessons learned in Liège • Why to use an Intranet at Interface Entreprises-Université de Liège ? • Internal communication • Knowledge management • Easier collaborative work • Tools and documents available from everywhere (multi-site) • Internal demand from the team21 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  22. 22. Lessons learned in Liège • Obstacles encountered • We wanted to build our Intranet by ourselves (cost and, above all, mastering technical tools) • Necessity of two softwares: « Confluence » does not have a Wall build-in so we had to use Joomla • Hosting « Confluence » on a Linux Server located in our server room • Linux is the best choice for web-based tools (security, reliability, costs, …) • Linux is not « ready to use » • Difficult to configure « Joomla » and « Confluence » on the same platform • Well thought structure is mandatory • Resistance of the team to change (new tools mean new habits)22 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools
  23. 23. Lessons learned in Liège • Method & timeline: Constitution of a workgroup Installation of Configuration Work on wiki 4 to 6 Confluence on a test server of Confluence structure months Visite to Installation of MFG Confluence and Joomla on a Linux Configuration server (production of Joomla installation) Progressive Integration of 23 early integration of users adopters remaining users (22)23 | 29.03.2010 Communication & Collaboration Tools