Collaboration – what is it?

Multiethnic People with Startup Business Talking in a Cafe

Another buzz word, a set of tools and technologies, a methodology of working…? Yes, at the moment the term ‘collaboration’ is over used and often mistakenly used – so we have a bit of overload here. Lets keep things simple.

Oxford dictionary definition is: “The action of working with someone to produce something.”

In business this translates to ‘the actions of a team to achieve a common goal’. You probably work in several ‘teams’ in different departments, on different projects – but rarely do you work alone and always with a purpose. Collaboration just describes the way you work together – the ‘actions’ you use.

The way you communicate, share information and interact is vital in forming good collaboration.  The Microsoft collaboration tools enable this to happen with the least amount of effort to change your individual work.

The big one here seems to be where you save your files… where ever you normally save them, Stop! Make sure you save your work to a SharePoint. Here, everyone in your team has access to the files (you can set permissions if required) – this way nobody has to ‘ask’ for a file its just there and you can link file to an email rather than sending copies. There are no issues with versioning or working on the file at the same time either – you can actually live edit the same document by multiple people at the same time known as Co-authoring.

Have you ever worked in one of those places where there are excessive amounts of meetings, just so everyone knows what everyone in the team is doing? Stop it! Manage by exception… i.e. only have a meeting if there is an actual need to get together. Use shared calendars in Outlook to know what each other is doing, use planner for managing actions – ensure you keep your tasks up to date then everyone is on the same page without having to ‘check in’ with each other all the time.

Collaborating this way, with these tools make work more reliable. For example, if you need to pull some notes together, don’t everyone write a different version ‘in your own words’ on your own word doc, notes file or note pads – work together on OneNote. You can all have it open and write it out together, quickly and simply. Don’t even need someone to send the notes around afterwards, its automatically saved exactly where you need it.

These online tools allow you each to work on your own devices, in your own locations and in your own style. You can focus on your work without getting bogged down in ‘project admin’. They help you to be an effective team, to be aware of each other as you work to your common goal but not on top of each other.

The main Microsoft tools to use here all come as part of Office 365 such as Outlook, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, Skype and Planner – each have their own option and use interacting together to save you time and effort.

Make life simple. All you have to do now is get on with your work – sorry!


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