How to Bring Agility to Legacy Collaboration Systems: 10 Best Practices

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2014-05-06 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Document-centric collaboration is now considered a building block of enterprise success, and in the mobile-device world, it's crucial that collaboration extend beyond the internal organization to include external partners and contractors. Yet, with many legacy collaboration and enterprise content management (ECM) solutions lacking in sufficient cloud and mobile features, organizations often rely on third-party file sync and share applications to collaborate outside the firewall. However, complexity begins there, thanks to these different point solutions. Plus, few of these solutions are enterprise-class, which means there are serious implications when it comes to security—especially for regulated industries that share sensitive content. To prevent employees from using unsanctioned tools, IT must offer secure collaboration apps that are built for the enterprise but are still easy to use. In this eWEEK slide show, research from Workshare and the Association for Information and Image Management shows that there is a strong market need for cloud-based enterprise solutions that can run on legacy systems to allow more agile collaboration that synchronizes workflows across cloud and mobile. Here are some best practices to consider.

 
 
 
  • How to Bring Agility to Legacy Collaboration Systems: 10 Best Practices

    by Chris Preimesberger
    1 - How to Bring Agility to Legacy Collaboration Systems: 10 Best Practices
  • Understand Strategic Drivers for Improved Collaboration

    The research found that nearly half of respondents ranked improved productivity as the biggest strategic driver for improving collaboration. This was followed by access to a pooled knowledge base and unifying a geographically distributed workforce. By understanding what makes collaboration important for employees, organizations can equip themselves to meet user requirements for enterprise applications and thus prevent employees from circumventing IT to use unsanctioned tools.
    2 - Understand Strategic Drivers for Improved Collaboration
  • Focus on Improving Collaboration With External Partners

    Businesses should be aware of areas within the organization where collaboration is crucial. For 60 percent of those surveyed, external collaboration is considered to be "crucial" or "very important." Specific initiatives that might require extending collaboration beyond the firewall include contracts, bids and proposals. Facilitating an improved line of communication for bid preparation and contract negotiation is almost certain to make a strong contribution to whether those bids are won.
    3 - Focus on Improving Collaboration With External Partners
  • Assess the Degree of Technical Support You Are Providing

    Fifty percent of respondents believe their organization has shortfalls in technical support for internal collaboration, rising to 71 percent for external collaboration. In particular, nearly 40 percent feel quite strongly that collaboration systems are badly supported—even where external collaboration is crucial. The most important types of technical support include the sharing of content and documents and workflows for comments and approvals, both of which are fundamental to modern collaboration processes.
    4 - Assess the Degree of Technical Support You Are Providing
  • Check Collaboration System to See if It Supports External or Mobile Users

    Fewer than 25 percent of those surveyed have any document creation, editing or workflow capability on their mobile devices, although 85 percent would like to have it. About half have view-only access on their mobile devices. With new-gen workforces becoming increasingly mobile, having the ability to not only view documents from a mobile device but actually edit and collaborate on them is essential for maintaining productivity while on the go.
    5 - Check Collaboration System to See if It Supports External or Mobile Users
  • Create Hybrid Cloud Solutions as Extension of On-Premises ECM, Collaboration

    Nearly 50 percent of respondents are looking for a hybrid collaboration support solution because it enables user access, classification, retention policies and process workflows to be synchronized across cloud and mobile access. Whether it is in a particular country or even in their own data center, hybrid cloud solutions ensure data security while also providing productivity gains.
    6 - Create Hybrid Cloud Solutions as Extension of On-Premises ECM, Collaboration
  • Assess Current Policies Around File Sync and Share Services

    One third of respondents either have no policies to protect data shared via unsanctioned applications, or their policies do not bar these tools at all. Of course, having stated policies is one thing, but actually enforcing them is another, and if the most popular apps are not actually restricted, widespread circumvention is likely. But given the demand for these cloud services, simply banning them without providing an alternative is short-sighted. Consider introducing an approved and supported enterprise-grade system, possibly as an interim, but ensure that it has strong security options and user access controls.
    7 - Assess Current Policies Around File Sync and Share Services
  • Look Beyond Basic Content Access on Mobile Devices

    Only 20 percent of organizations are able to provide document review and editing on mobile devices, even though most would like to be able to do this. Particularly when looking for a long-term collaboration solution, consider incorporating capture and edit, and review and annotation functions, as well as interoperability with back-office processes.
    8 - Look Beyond Basic Content Access on Mobile Devices
  • Align Repositories for Cloud Collaboration and On-Premises Systems

    One of the biggest concerns around adopting a formal collaboration system is the fact that it creates yet another repository for content, user access and retention, which might be disconnected from legacy systems. The ability to align with on-premises systems would help here, as well as third-party cloud extensions to popular on-premises systems. Another option would be to deploy a stand-alone cloud system that offers a range of connectors.
    9 - Align Repositories for Cloud Collaboration and On-Premises Systems
  • Avoid Creating In-house Developed Mobile Environments

    Cloud extension solutions from existing ECM vendors are much easier to support across current and future mobile devices, and are less likely to have security loopholes.
    10 - Avoid Creating In-house Developed Mobile Environments
  • Deploy Process Functions for Mobile

    Content access is just one part of how mobile devices can interact with back-end processes to improve collaboration and increase productivity—process functions are just as important. Reports, dashboards and electronic forms were found to be the most popular process functions to access from mobile, although only 30 percent of respondents have this ability now. Electronic approvals and workflow sign-offs were the second most popular, with only 20 percent having this now.
    11 - Deploy Process Functions for Mobile
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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