An enterprise collaboration plan is a project charter that documents how an organization will use its collaboration platform during the course of projects and daily business operations. While running SharePoint on-premise can be expensive for some organizations, it's prudent to track how you're getting maximum business and productivity value from Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) collaboration platforms as well.
I've seen SharePoint work famously, and I've seen it fail. I've been burned by email inboxes, and I've seen other in-house and SaaS solutions perform to varying degrees. Since I've been writing for TechRepublic, I get even more exposure to collaboration platforms; now I'm wondering why so many organizations don't have a plan for moving to a collaboration platform.
All of this got me thinking that organizations should document a plan to help their teams move from email inboxes and shared drives to a collaboration platform. The following is what an enterprise collaboration plan should include.
"Build it and they will come" isn't a foundation for a collaboration platform. An enterprise collaboration plan should include your organization's business goals for collaboration, including:
- A system of record for all project documents;
- A central communications hub for project teams and departments; and
- Centralized events scheduling for the team and the project.
Project management touch points
The SaaS market is at an interesting period of project management, collaboration, and enterprise social convergence; I think this helps and hinders organizations during the collaboration platform selection process. An enterprise collaboration plan should define the project management touch points with the collaboration platform. These touch points include:
- Maintaining project schedules;
- Sending task assignments to team members;
- Updating the status on team members' project tasks; and
- Reviewing and approving documents online via the collaboration platform rather than email.
Workspace/document library priorities
Collaboration platforms revolve around workspace and/or document libraries. An enterprise collaboration plan should set workspace and document library priorities whether they are set up for each project, each project team, or a hybrid approach depending on what your platform can support.
Roles, responsibilities, and governance
Roles, responsibilities, and governance can be overly complex and can contribute to the failure of SharePoint implementations. However, even platforms such as Huddle, Teambox, and Wrike still need roles, responsibilities and governance.
Your enterprise collaboration plan should include:
- Platform role assignments (Administrator, editor, viewer);
- Project manager, team lead, and team member responsibilities; and
- Platform governance, including security and administration.
A documentation audit should be part of any enterprise collaboration plan. This means cleaning out email inboxes and doing away with the "secret stashes" team members have on their local hard drives; those project documents need to migrate to your collaboration platform in a methodical manner.
The enterprise collaboration plan should include:
- A process behind the documentation audit;
- A list of documents deemed to be the working and final versions; and
- A disposition of final documents from their previous location to a document library or workspace.
Apply platform features to current business problems
Document process changes
The move to a collaboration platform might require changes to certain business processes, especially email-driven processes. Let's say your team has a process for emailing documents to one another to review for content and technical accuracy. The enterprise collaboration plan should include a revised process that accounts for moving the process to the collaboration platform.
Mobile/remote access planning
If mobile and remote access is a collaboration requirement in your organization, it should factor into your enterprise collaboration plan. While mobile access to SaaS collaboration platforms is just getting the user an account, on-premise collaboration platforms will require more access planning. Your plan should document the process for an end user to obtain remote access to the on-premise collaboration platform.
The plan should also document which standard mobile client apps end users should use to access your collaboration platform.
Account for BYOD
If your organization has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, you need to account for that in your enterprise collaboration plan; this includes any access and policy changes limiting or restricting BYOD access to workspaces and document libraries. The policy and restriction changes need to be communicated to BYOD users, especially those who may lose access to the platform or a particular workspace due to BYOD policies.
While this is a definite crossover into a BYOD policy, the platform administrator(s) needs to have clear guidance on how to manage access for users with BYOD devices. This takes on added importance if your organization must be in compliance with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
An enterprise collaboration plan can help your organization migrate to a collaboration platform in a methodical manner and get up to speed with very few problems.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.