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Back to Basics – What is Team Collaboration? We break it down for you.

  • May 6, 2021

Team Collaboration: why doing it right is essential in the digital world.


SmartenUp - Back to Basics - What is Team Collaboration?

What is Team Collaboration?

Team collaboration is in essence all the aspects of workplace communication pertaining to the day-to-day activities, projects and tasks at hand and how, where and when your team collaborates and interacts with each other. This includes but isn’t limited to: project and information management, client service delivery, communication between departments, document collaboration management, and more. 

We have so many moving parts and have been doing this manually and in our own way that works for us for years. How do we digitize something like this, though? Why would we?

Valid question. The aim of good [digital] team collaboration is to improve all that we mentioned above, increase efficiency and help boost your workflow. When this happens, your company and employees’ productivity levels will improve by default too, and by implication, this will cause your company to grow and you to be miles ahead of your competitors.

Those aren’t the only benefits to effectively digitizing your team-collaboration-part of your business. Think of it this way – when taking these manual processes and digitizing them, you instantly open the opportunity to function beyond your current geographical boundaries and time zones, above and beyond facilitating improved levels of performance and outcomes.

6 Reasons Why & How Digital Team Collaboration is worth a second thought:

  1. Boost your team’s communication

    When you have multiple moving parts within your company’s workflow, don’t underestimate the power of instant interaction. This especially helps when elements of this workflow have people dispersed wide and far geographically. Through digitizing this, you equip your workforce with the tools to communicate efficiently and effectively with each other at any point in time, via text, audio or even video. This can be done conveniently through their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

    Salesforce, our digital platform of choice, offers great in-business context solutions, so that your teams collaborate where it matters: Chatter, Quip and, after its recent acquisition, Slack.

  2.  Reduce time wasted looking for information

    As stated by BIT.AI, “Almost 20 percent of a working week – the equivalent of one day per working week – is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively.”

    According to the above statistic, that’s around 52 days spent wasted on something as simple as looking for the relevant information in a single year. With your documents and work files scattered over a few different sources like email attachments, Google Drive & OneDrive, Dropbox, USB sticks, folders on your computers and more, you can most likely see why this statistic is what it is.

    Having access to the necessary files, documents, media and content at the right time, creating a central location for you and your employees where they can easily locate the necessary information, can quickly change those 52 wasted days into 52 days of pure productivity. Something to think about, right?

    If you collaborate in context, the endless searching through past emails thread, trying to find in which “reply-to-reply-to-reply-to” nested level is that piece of information, is gone! Just navigate to the business information you are concerned about, and check the in-context chat.

  3. Business Execution has never worked so well

    When you mobilise your approach with team interaction, communication and collaboration, this facilitates the opportunity for your workforce to be in the loop, whenever and from wherever.

    In turn, decisions can be made much quicker with the ability to centrally converse, share information and files; and complete the projects and tasks set out in the first place.

    The bonus of increasing time not wasted with your employees’ daily tasks is that it gives them a bit of breathing room to brainstorm on ways to move the business forward even more. Talk about a win-win.

    When everybody works on Salesforce, there’s no need to describe a context before asking a question, the classic scenario of “Regarding client X, and request Y, remember the last comment from Z, what do you think of it?” becomes a single reply to Z’s comment on the Request Y page: “@B, what do you think of Z’s comment?” And when B receives the notification, she only needs to click on it to get the whole context.

  4. Sharing (knowledge) is Caring

    Your company’s knowledge is one of your primary assets and gives you a unique edge compared to your competitors. The serious downfall however is that many times, all this knowledge retires with your older workforce.

    According to BIT.AI, Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge.

    Intensive training and lack of knowledge creates a gap within companies that could’ve quite honestly been solved by digital knowledge sharing. Building a solid informational foundation for your company will already prove itself as incredibly useful in teaching new hires the do’s and don’ts of your company. 

    Digitizing this fundamental aspect will ensure your company can continue working with ease, adhere to your standard levels of procedures at a minimum and preserve the invaluable information your company has gathered over the years. In essence, the goal is to retain the accumulated knowledge of your company, no matter who comes or goes.

    By constantly interacting in Salesforce, your teams (Sales, Service, Legal, HR, you name it) build a “Social Knowledge base” without even trying. And when people search for information, unlike what happens when searching through a spaghetti thread of emails, they will find clear discussions with just what is needed.

  5. Peak Interdepartmental Performance

    The reality is, each department has its own culture, its own procedures and its own primary focuses. As important as those factors may be, there is still room for delays and inefficiencies.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean your departments aren’t doing their jobs, it just means when there are too many manual elements between different departments, the probability of unnecessary delays becomes more and more inevitable.

    Transparency and faster central communication will equip all your departments to nurture and successfully build their interdepartmental relationships, directly resulting in improved workflows and efficiency.

    The logical consequence of all of the above is that each team is up to speed with everything that happens and everything they need to be informed of.

  6. “This meeting could’ve been an email” – Increase Internal Productivity

    When different departments are involved, we all know the reality of dreaded email chains and wasted time in meetings, whose solutions in the end usually end up being much simpler than the time used to solve them.

    This is why real-time communication is crucial in your company’s standard internal  communication – your employees can answer questions and solve problems in seconds compared to waiting, and waiting, responding, waiting, and then waiting some more.

    Once Salesforce is your single source of truth, the need for a meeting to “synchronize” or “get people up to speed” is much lower, as everyone has access to the real-time information, anywhere, anytime.


SmartenUp - Optimise Team Collaboration

Let’s use an example to practically demonstrate these concepts:

Let’s continue to have a look at how SmartenUp has used tools to optimise team collaboration, to ensure that Thandi’s team communicates effectively and functions in the best way possible, making team work a breeze. If you haven’t read our blog on Business Automation, we suggest you reference it first and continue with this example thereafter, as this example is only part of a whole series.

Thandi’s team does not all sit or work in one location, but they consistently work together as a team. If there is a lack of, or miscommunication, things do not run as smoothly as they should and operations can quickly and easily go wrong. This results in unhappiness amongst its client base, and in the worst case; loss of clients. 

When a job order comes in, a Customer Agent needs to ensure that the job is assigned to a Service Agent. The Service Agent needs to communicate with a Laundromat Manager on the job progress. Thandi needs to be able to reach everyone individually, or occasionally all the Customer Agents, or all the Laundromat Managers, for day-to-day customer operations. Posh Wash also runs many campaigns and projects, and team members often work together on the same documents for this.

Currently, project documents are worked on by sending various versions via email and email groups. On the customer operations side, there are also various WhatsApp groups of team members. Service Agents communicate with Customers Agents in this way, whilst Service Agents communicate with Laundromat Managers on the instant messaging platform Signal,  where they have also created various groups. 

This form of communication serves its purpose, but the lack of a central platform results in team members spending a lot of time on administration as everyone needs to communicate quickly or find and refer to information as soon as possible, which can be hard if communication takes place across various platforms without a structure or agreed-to process. Again, this results in miscommunications and incorrect information being shared. 

By creating a central platform for all communications, which can be accessed from both a desktop or mobile device, Thandi has a central platform for all communication. All groups exist on a single, centralized platform where team members can easily communicate and interact with each other, either in a group or individually. Instead of just communicating, tasks can be assigned and documents can be shared and collaborated on from one central point of view, and because the platform is linked to Posh Wash’s customer database, information can easily be shared and referred to without inaccuracies or without wasting time. 

This is an example of team collaboration optimisation, which will result in the following:

  • A more streamlined manner of communication all from a central platform, and because access and visibility levels can be controlled, Thandi can control who can see what, and what level of customer detail the team will have access to, despite everyone being on the same platform. 
  • Real-time information about customers can be shared and referred to, and documents and files can be saved and stored in a structured manner so that they can be found, referred to and shared easily. As they exist in one platform, it is not dependent on various chat platforms or administrators of groups, and the team is not dependent on a “chat history” to find important information shared or discussed. 
  • Because email, WhatsApp and signal is no longer used, it is more secure, and communication is not lost between other emails, or important work information does not get mixed with personal and non-work related discussions. 

Tune in next time to see how all of this ties in with Thandi’s company and just how big of an impact it had on her client’s Customer Experience.


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