The Five Pitfalls of Social Collaboration

December 21, 2012 Comments
The Five Pitfalls of Social Collaboration

This is a guest post from Daanish Khan, head of strategy, Formicary Collaboration Group

The wave of new social collaboration tools for the enterprise has brought about many benefits for organizations with geographically distributed teams, including more efficient workflow and idea sharing for innovation and increased productivity.  The promise however, of employees and teams connecting to share information in real time and seek out internal experts on specific topics, can quickly lead to chaos and frustration if the necessary steps, including identifying business needs, education on the value added, and proper training, are not introduced at the onset of the implementation.

Unfortunately many organizations get caught up in the hype of what these tools can provide that they neglect to take the time upfront to outline a plan for adaptation.  Also, the deployment is usually driven by management or IT in an attempt to unify all of the different sources of information, and overcome limitations of e-mail for communication between groups in the enterprise, without truly considering how factors like company culture will impact the change.

Smart organizations walk into social collaboration implementations with their eyes wide open.  They are aware of potential pitfalls that they could face, which can limit the benefits and return on investment, and have a plan in place to overcome them if they are starting to go down a pitfall path.

Below are five common pitfalls companies often face when implementing social collaboration technology throughout the enterprise, which should be on your radar as you are rolling out your own new social collaboration technology.

1) Failure to demonstrate how the social collaboration tools being implemented should be tied to daily business needs and/or day-to-day activities.  Without this understanding, the tools will not be quickly embraced nor will their value be appreciated.

2) Failure to explain how the new social collaboration technology works with or replaces the many different tools and applications employees are already using on a daily basis, resulting in employee resistance to add “yet another” tool to the desktop.

3) Failure to devote necessary resources upfront to educate and train employees about the benefits of social collaboration tools. This can lead to disinterest and disengagement and can impede the success rate.  Employees experience frustration and headaches trying to learn how to use the new tools, and eventually surrender altogether due to lack of internal training.

4) Failure to think through how this new technology will cause a cultural disruption of familiar team and management workflow processes and practices, resulting in employees  being  uncomfortable with the collaboration process.

5) Failure to include management in initial implementation decisions and the behavior change process to break down silos and create an open communication platform where all levels of employees are comfortable sharing information.

These pitfalls can easily be avoided when organizations take the right approach from the start to ensure a smooth transition and user adaptation.

What’s needed for success? Here are some suggestions on how your organization can avoid the common mistakes of faulty implementation, and ensure that you only experience the many benefits that these social collaboration tools can provide:

  • Clearly identify your business needs and processes where social collaboration tools can add value, and outline a roadmap to achieve those goals. Social collaboration tools can streamline workflow processes to accelerate business decisions and increase productivity when implemented correctly.
  • Include IT departments in the initial decision process and implementation to ensure a smooth transition and full assimilation with existing tools and infrastructure. New social enterprise tools available today can be easily integrated with existing technologies and applications.
  • Invest the time upfront to educate and train users on your new social collaboration tools to ensure that teams understand and are comfortable with the use of all the many features and capabilities on a daily basis.
  • Establish change management practices to overcome cultural barriers and help employees and teams feel comfortable with the new open collaboration environment.
  • Enlist management to serve as advocates for new social collaboration tools and help with change management.  Once employees and teams see just how these tools can break down silos and open up collaborative and transparent brainstorming across the organization, including the C-suite, benefits will be achieved in shortened product development cycles and improved revenue streams.

As social collaboration software continues to evolve and enterprises realize the value of these tools, we should see more companies adopting this technology for increased business productivity and competitive advantage.   However, having a strategy in place that includes communicating the business value, education, training and management advocacy is vital to user adoption and achieving success.


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