Today, I did a presentation for the internal SharePoint Community of Practice (COP) for a large (Top 50) Federal Systems Integrator. This COP is 700 people. They have a current topical focus on Social Collaboration. Microsoft gave a presentation a few weeks back on the Social Collaboration features of SP2013. In my presentation, I introduced and demoed 4 different business solutions where social collaboration is being used in a business process/application. These were all based upon the CorasWorks Cim™ solution framework. For those of you interested in the potential of Social Collaboration on SharePoint, and, looking for hard-hitting business scenarios that demonstrate the value – this article is for you….
My presentation abstract was as follows:
Social Collaboration at Work (www.corasworks.net)
Social collaboration within SharePoint makes it easier for people to engage. So how do you leverage this approach to drive organizational results? In this presentation, we’ll look at four practical business scenarios where social collaboration is used to drive business results. The scenarios are:
· Idea Challenge Management – purposeful, event based challenges to drive ideas and manage them through a review and approval process
· R&D Working Groups – designated working groups that then output results as proposals for new projects
· New Project Initiation – collaborative, stage-gate based process to review and approve new project proposals (partials feed from working groups)
· Collaborative Channels for Capture & Proposal Management – communities used for collaboration across a distributed capture and proposal management system
Let’s look at each of the business scenarios above…
Idea Challenge Management
The area of Idea & Innovation Management is pretty hot and ripe for social collaboration. Organizations know that Innovation is necessary to succeed (and survive). But, how to move the ball forward is a challenge.
We have found the most effective approach is for organizations to use Idea Challenges vs. creating a general idea “inbox”. Challenges are typically event-based (time limited), purposeful, and, sponsored by a team who is responsible AND interested in reviewing and using the results.
The solution I showed provides organizations with the ability to spawn new Challenges. These are sites and they are created and configured by the sponsor in a self-service way to meet the needs of the Challenge. The Challenges are then exposed across the SharePoint environment. People respond, contribute ideas, and collaborate using Star Ratings, Commenting, Document Upload and management, Peer Reviews, Sharing. The Challenge managers have a robust stage-gate process to screen, review, and decide on the ideas. Of course, being CorasWorks-based the structured work management part is also greatly and easily customized to meet the needs of the specific team that sponsored the challenge.
R&D Working Groups
This solution addresses a scenario where you have multiple/many working groups where each is expected to have an output – a document, a project proposal for funding, a discovery, a new policy. A Working Group differs from say a collaborative team site because an output is expected. Each group is a community where the members collaborate. Then, when they have something to output, from within their working group they have one or more channels to kick off the output process.
In the solution that I showed, the output of the R&D Working Groups is a project proposal for funding. From within the Working Group site, they access a New Proposal “community” and post a form for the project proposal that goes to a central management team. The central team reviews and works the proposals through a funding process. The output side is also highly collaborative and visible with members of the Working Group able to interact with the central management team and with all others that are watching and collaborating across the system. (Note that all Working Groups are feeding the central Project Proposal process – see NPI below).
New Project Initiation
This solution is for the “demand management” part of project management – the front end part where you determine which projects you will invest in. It is a challenge to do this part well. A good process means less duplication, more visibility, and more commitment to the projects that are funded. To accomplish this, we showed how this process could be made more transparent and collaborative.
Actually, the demo I showed had the New Project Initiation process receiving the project proposals from the R&D Working Groups above. Thus, when the various R&D Working Groups submitted a proposal, they all feed this process. In addition, individuals can also directly submit proposals.
All of the proposals are seen by the entire R&D working community so you get the transparency and visibility. Each proposal is then centrally managed through a stage-gate process. Along the way the managers are able to collaborate with the proposals submitters and “watchers”. In addition, the managers collaborate amongst themselves such as doing collaborative reviews. Here they can Rate, Comment, and Score proposals separate from the general community. This solution has all of formal features you’d expect such as portfolio management, downstream project/portfolio integration and extensive reporting.
This is the simplest of the 4 solutions. The scenario was a Capture & Proposal Management system for a Federal Contractor. These are large systems with people working in many sites (100’s – Program Management, Proposal Sites, IDIQ Management, Task Order sites). The challenge is how do you communicate and collaborate amongst this distributed “working community”. For instance, if there are new forms, new policies, challenges, needs for a resource – how does the community know of this and how can they engage and collaborate.
The answer is Collaborative Channels. What I showed was the Business Development Channel. It is a community of sorts except it IS NOT a place you go to collaborate. Rather within each of the hundreds of sites, users have access to the Channel. There they can post, share information, and, collaborate. Thus, no matter where someone is working across this “work community”, they have access to the Channel. This Channel approach is a great way to get people working together across the distributed environment of SharePoint. Think departments, business functions (sales, engineering, bd, global branch offices, plants, et al).
The objective of this presentation was to get people thinking about the business value that social collaboration can bring. In general, we start with the business application/process (often existing) and ask how can this process be improved by opening it up to greater engagement and collaboration. Accordingly, we see social collaboration as a set of features that can be applied to business as opposed to something that adds value on its own.
In addition, if you review the above scenarios you will see my use of the term “working community”. In most social collaboration feature-products (social-social) a community is a place you go. In the above, there is a business context to each. Thus, the idea of the “working community” is everyone that is interested in or should be a part of outputting the best work results. Accordingly, you see that all of the business solutions span multiple sites and an entire SharePoint environment. All part of bringing a broad set of people together and putting them to work.
So, that is a wrap on Social Collaboration at Work for now. If you would like a private demonstration of these scenarios ping me or CorasWorks.