Seamless collaboration demands joined up thinking.
This joined up thinking isn’t a new thing. After all, armed with the likes of Google Analytics and your client relationship management suite, it has never been easier to get a joined-up picture of your customers.
But what about your processes? How joined-up are they?
On paper at least, your product development, marketing, sales, technical support and HR departments are all working towards the same goals. The reality on the ground can look very different. Especially where input is required from multiple departments, delays in production and approval can become commonplace. Messages become garbled, tasks are duplicated needlessly, inconsistency ensues, staff morale suffers, the customer experience is degraded – and your bottom line is reduced.
These problems are down to silos: i.e. those situations where individual employees or else entire departments are unable or unwilling to share information or knowledge with each other.
Changing customer expectations mean that cross-department collaboration becomes more of a priority. After all, whether they are viewing your LinkedIn feed, viewing your walk-through video or speaking to a technical service rep, your customers expect a seamless experience - and one that’s personal to their needs. You cannot expect to deliver this without close, effective collaboration between everyone involved in the creation of that experience.
To be considered fit for purpose, the tools and strategies you use for collaboration must complement:
Within a relatively short space of time, most corporate organisations have seen big changes in all three of these areas (driven by factors as diverse as the growth of social media, multichannel marketing, sales/marketing integration and widespread use of outside agencies). It’s important to ensure that your approach to collaboration - and the resources you provide your people - have kept up with these changes.
For this, bear in mind the following:
Those two terms collaboration and communication tend to be used almost interchangeably. In fact, you would be forgiven for assuming that you could solve your team’s potential collaboration problems simply by arming them with the likes of Skype and instant messaging.
We’re not saying that these tools are unimportant – but we are saying that communication is just one of several elements of collaboration. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that a handful of communication tools represents a fit-for-purpose collaboration stack.
The standard definition of collaboration refers to two or more people working collectively towards the same goal. To help you understand what this looks like in the context of a corporate enterprise, it’s useful to view collaboration in terms of management.
More specifically, through your collaboration strategy, you are attempting to manage people, tasks and assets in such a way that friction is reduced and your end goals are met.
Here’s an overview of these three elements and at what you need to manage each of them successfully…
Culture can be one of the biggest barriers to effective inter-team collaboration. If things have always been done in a certain way and if there are very strong dividing lines between the responsibilities of different teams, a departmentalised mindset is almost inevitable.
To change this, you should focus on the following:
Why is the product development team being asked to create HR material? Why are sales employees being asked to do tasks that step on the turf of marketers? Explain to employees that this isn’t just change for change’s sake. The aim is to make workflows smoother – and the end results better. Fewer delays and less frustration: when processes are less stressful, everyone benefits.
Most employees value the prospect of expanding their skillsets and areas of experience. Fewer barriers can make it easier for staff to get involved in a wider range of tasks and boost their professional development; something that’s definitely worth highlighting as a way of reducing their attachment to the old way of doing things.
Unless it’s managed, collaboration can go wrong. Not least, a habit of passing the buck can emerge, or else everyone might assume that someone else is covering a task when in fact, no-one is. Seamless collaboration demands strong task management practices. Here’s how to get it right:
Task management tools. The likes of Trello and Wrike allow you to see at a glance who’s covering what – and when.
Prioritisation at task level. The risk is that projects that originate from certain departments (sales and marketing, for instance) are automatically fast-forwarded to the front of the to-do list for company-wide collaboration. This can mean that important areas of work (e.g. linked to employer branding for recruitment campaigns) do not get the attention they deserve. To avoid this, all tasks should be allocated a realistic due date based on a fair assessment of their urgency and importance.
Reporting procedures. Collaboration does not mean a free-for-all. You need to give all employees and outside partners clear instructions for the part of the project they are responsible for. They also need instructions on who to report to and when – and on who to report to in the event of any queries.
Silos compartmentalise people. The same silos can compartmentalise assets, too. Managing, protecting and delivering seamless access to these assets is one of the most important and yet easily overlooked elements of effective collaboration. This is referred to as Digital Asset Management (DAM).
These are not merely digital files. Rather, they are the core pieces of content that help you establish and reinforce your identity. They are very often the starting point for a project - whether it’s the creation of a one-off instruction manual or an entire social media campaign. In other words, these are the building blocks of your brand.
Examples include the following:
Around three quarters of companies have a multichannel marketing strategy in place.
From social media through to live events, executing this strategy inevitably means having to store an increasingly wide range of assets.
It means being able to optimise these assets to meet the requirements of specific channels.
It also means being able to efficiently distribute these assets to the people who require access to them.
In other words, it requires dedicated digital asset management.
Like any other potential addition to your technology stack, the decision to adopt a DAM solution requires you to answer one key question: Will it deliver ROI?
We would suggest that if some or most of the following priorities apply to your organisation, it’s time to look seriously at DAM adoption.
“We need more speed”
Especially when it comes to marketing campaigns, you now have the ability to monitor the success of your efforts in real time. You can see precisely what content is (and isn’t) driving sales. You also get early-stage insights on the success of individual product or service lines.
But there is little value on getting insights at an early stage if you are unable to act on them - and to do it quickly.
DAM can directly address production logjams, helping you launch or tweak campaigns quicker - and help you put everything in place for getting new products and services to market (again, quicker). At producer level, with assets managed and logically organised in a central repository, less time is wasted on searching for specific items. Your people have precisely what they need for the completion of specific tasks - right when they need it.
“We want to reduce our agency spend”
By providing your people with an accessible central asset repository, DAM usage can make it easier for your teams to instruct and collaborate with agencies and outside consultants.
That said, it can also be a valuable resource for actually reducing your reliance on third-party input. For a start, (as we’ve seen), this technology can make the production process more efficient. So, if time and resource constraints are the main reason why you hire outsiders, you are likely to find the need to outsource is reduced as your in-house capacity is increased.
DAM can also help to directly boost the technical capabilities of your in-staff. This is obviously good news if the main reason why you instruct agencies is to make up for a lack of in-house technical expertise. More widely, it opens the door to much wider participation and collaboration on what would otherwise be regarded as highly specialist tasks.
As an illustration, you want to get one of your sales staff directly involved in the production of banner ads. But which templates should they be using? How do you go about formatting? A DAM solution can help with all of this – with no knowledge of coding or specialist editing programs required.
“We want to avoid brand dilution”
Will greater cross-team collaboration come at a cost? After all, the more you produce – and the more people there are involved in the production process, the greater the chances of losing control.
Brand erosion. This is where, little by little, formatting is altered, layouts are tweaked and the rules you set out fall by the wayside. The look, feel and central message you wanted to convey is steadily diluted.
DAM can be a vital tool for preventing all of this. It provides clear parameters for individuals from all teams to work under. It reduces the chances of team members deviating from your key messages – and keeps you in control of the production process.
DAM from Papirfly is much more than an asset repository. Used by some of the world’s best brands, it enables seamless collaboration – while keeping you in control of the production process.
STORE: Centrally store and easily share all marketing assets.
UPDATE: Avoid all versioning errors. Remove and replace old assets with ease.
SEARCH: Build bespoke search and save options, ensuring your people get hold of what they need, when they need it.
TRAIN: Integrate with the Papirfly Brand Portal; a powerful one-stop-shop for educating and promoting brand guidelines to all your associates.
Discover Papirfly DAM today.