Every business wants its staff to perform at its peak and to get one plus one to equal three through communication and collaboration. Collaboration can be complicated, even with technology. Maybe the best way to highlight how complicated collaboration can be, is to think about the creation of a report that summarizes a new project.
The report could span multiple departments or even include inputs from outside parties. Therefore, security becomes an issue. Some collaboration may be parallel such as when working on budget numbers simultaneously in an online spreadsheet. Other collaboration may be sequential wherein the spreadsheet then provides input for the narrative part of the report – can’t start one without the other. The archival of the completed report needs to be managed as well. These are all issues that make any single technology solution a difficult fit.
To achieve a good fit using document management requires significant flexibility in the application. Collaboration in the parallel sense (joint creation of a spreadsheet), requires integration with a cloud spreadsheet solution. Collaboration in the sequential sense requires workflow with rules and reporting to make sure the next person is notified and bottlenecks can be identified. When the collaboration reaches outside the organization or across departments, security must be manageable as well.
Not only do files and documents need to be shared in the typical collaborative environment, but also communication like notes, comments and questions. This could be partially handled via chat windows within the application or the ability to store notes or even attach emails. Scheduling of tasks may also be required for a collaborative project. Very few, if any document management systems support chat windows, integrated task lists and calendars, at least without being too clunky.
There are many project and team site applications out there like Asana, Basecamp and Teamwork to name a few. These are built to help manage the flexibly part of collaboration and can even help retain some structure during the process. None are configured to be the final archive of the information, that is where you need a bridge to your document management system.
The bottom line is that you actually need to get technology to collaborate to achieve the optimal end to end solution. That likely means finding a project site that works for you and then configuring that site with the archive site (document management system) in mind. Ensure a smooth transition from flexible project mode to organized and secure archive mode. If you can do this, then one plus one will equal three.