Full Sail Partners Blog

5 Elements for Effective Knowledge Sharing

Posted by Graham Gardner on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Knowledge Sharing GraphicAs white-collar professionals, our individual skillsets are built upon our cognitive abilities. We spend years adding new skills and competencies to our wheelhouse by absorbing tidbits of information from every facet of our daily lives. Think hard enough and I am sure you can identify personal, professional and communal experiences that have factored in to your eventual expertise. So how do we capture this intellectual information and pass it on to our coworkers? This knowledge sharing conundrum stumps many firms.

The simple fact that you are reading this blog, and have identified the challenges of knowledge sharing within your organization, gives you an advantage over the average professional.

The Contributing Factors for Effective Knowledge Sharing

  1. Expression: Knowledge is power. However, to convey this power to our cohorts, we need to be able to describe the information clearly and accurately.
  2. Awareness: The recipient must be aware that the knowledge is available and be willing to make an active effort to absorb the information and seek clarification where needed.
  3. Availability: The knowledge recipient and the knowledge provider must have availability to work together to clarify and provide further explanation to complex issues.
  4. Direction: The wealth of knowledge being shared was likely gathered over a long productive career. With that said, do not underestimate the importance of transferring this data in clearly defined, differentiated, segments that allow the recipient to comprehend the information accurately and completely. Avoiding information overload will allow this entire process to be less intrusive and run smoother.
  5. Completeness: This knowledge is often complex and multifaceted. In order to convey this knowledge accurately, it is vital to provide a complete and holistic picture. Often the ‘why’ is just as important as the ‘what.’   

Applying Knowledge Sharing Concepts to Your Business

I challenge each reader of this blog to self-examine and ask yourself: is your organization doing everything possible to foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing? If not, why? If so, what impact has this knowledge sharing had on your firm growth? The reality of this question can often be hard to come to terms with.

Social collaboration requires buy-in from the entire organization. Understanding the factors in play here can be as rudimentary as examining the makeup of our organization and understanding the different generational values in play.

 

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Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Technology Solutions, Kona

Be a Hunter and Farmer: 4 Essential Business Development Tools

Posted by Graham Gardner on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 @ 03:37 PM

business development toolsSuccessful professional services business development professionals often view themselves as hunters. Much like the cavemen or nomads, this group of professionals is responsible for learning how to navigate the dangers of the world to bring food back to the pack. This overly simplified analogy challenges us to view business development tools and efforts on a visceral level.

However, today’s competitive business environment requires business developers to be both hunters and farmers. Technology has drastically changed the way that relationships are cultivated. Our world is now more connected than ever before, therefore the ‘entry for admission’ to being a known entity is significantly higher than it has ever been before.

So what are the most essential hunter-farmer business development tools? Let’s take a look!

The Business Development Tools for Success

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) | CRM tools make it possible for everyone in your organization to work together to meet your clients’ needs by putting your clients at the center of your business. Real-time, holistic, competitive intelligence can provide you with everything needed to gain the competitive edge, win more business and increase customer satisfaction.
     
  2. Mobile Technology | For years BD professionals went out in to the field, gathered information, and brought the newly found information back to their firm. In today’s competitive business market we cannot afford the lag-time from collecting business intelligence, to acting upon it. Mobile technology has bridged this gap and allows professionals the full functionality of working from the office via a remote or mobile device.
     
  3. Social Collaboration Platform | Businesses that have more collaborative and engaged employees experience a higher rate of success. Social collaboration spaces are the virtual equivalent of an open office environment for your organization. Connect your out-of-office and internal staff through a platform that encourages employees to stay connected and share ideas more freely. Simplify file sharing, keep the entire project team informed and engage staff.
     
  4. Engagement Through Feedback | We are all familiar with the saying ‘it doesn’t hurt to ask.’ This concept is often overlooked in the business world. Don’t be afraid to ask clients if the processes you are using works for them. Utilize feedback to validate successes and identify areas of improvement. Foster long and meaningful relationships by asking, listening and responding to feedback.

Operate Like the Company You Desire to Be

As mentioned earlier, these business development tools are really the basics for being competitive in today’s market. Ultimately what differentiates your firm in the eyes of the client is how you utilize these technologies. Perception is often reality -- Clarissa the Client doesn’t know the intimate details about your firm, but she is aware of the image your firm presents. Firms that effectively deploy and manage the above tools are able to establish a brand within their market as top tier business partner.

 

 

Full Sail Partners Featured Firms

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Client Relationships, Building Business, CRM, Mobile

Deltek Kona: 'Spaces' for all Shapes and Sizes!

Posted by Rana Blair on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

Deltek Kona Spaces"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." This saying could never be truer than when talking about collaboration. We as humans have an intrinsic need to work together. Unfortunately it seems that at times as humans we also have a  need to butt heads! More often than not in the business world, this butting of heads is a result of how we communicate. Luckily, Deltek has recognized these faults with collaboration and has introduced a solution that you may or may not of heard of by now – Deltek Kona!

Since the release of Kona there have been many upgrades to the platform. If you are a long time user, you have probably recognized some of these changes. Well, now it is time to identify some of the most important changes made to Kona spaces, and how these changes impact your professional services firm:

Organizing Deltek Kona Spaces

If you’re reading this, chances are you are using Deltek Kona frequently and have been added to a number of Kona spaces. 

The Deltek Kona team has developed some tools that allow you to categorize your spaces.  You can then use the classifications you’ve created just for you to adjust what you see and what content is emailed to you.

Space Categories

After assessing the types of spaces you are involved in, you may find that there are multiple spaces for different objectives such as Billable projects, Internal Work Groups, or Company Initiatives. Create a category for multiple spaces so they can be grouped together and used as filters.  The categories you create are just for you and can be changed any time.   

To create categories, go to Manage under the Spaces pane and then Add Category.  To assign spaces to the new category, simply enter the space and choose edit, then assign it to the desired category.

$5 Tip:  Don’t go make categories now.  Read on to find alternative thought processes on creating categories.

Space Favorites

With or without using Space Categories, you can also use the Favorite tool to mark one or more spaces as a Favorite.  This is helpful for spaces where there is a lot of activity or information that you refer to frequently.  Like categories, the list of Favorites can be used as a filter to narrow what you see in your Deltek Kona session.

To mark a Kona space as a favorite, go to the space in the list of spaces and click the down arrow to the right of the space name and choose Favorite.

$10 Tip:  You can also hide spaces.  The only way to find the hidden spaces is to use the filter drop-down.  (See below.)

Positioning Spaces

Spaces are natively organized first by Network, then Favorites, then everything else alphabetically.  Perhaps there is a space that you don’t want to mark as a favorite, but would like to see in your space view without scrolling or you have spaces that are at the top of the list but don’t need to be seen immediately.  This is often helpful for personal or reference spaces that don’t have a lot of new conversation content but need to be easily accessed

To reposition a space, simply click in the middle of the space name and drag it to its new position

Filtering Space Views

Once you’ve assigned spaces to categories or have marked them as favorites, you can begin to use the Space Filter tool in a more advanced way.  To access the filters, look for the down arrow just below the space search box and above the first space.  The dropdown will reveal the standard categories, favorites, and categories you’ve created. 

$25 Tip:  The filter selection remains even after you log out of Deltek Kona.  If upon logging in again, you cannot find the space you’re looking for, go to the filters and reset to All.

Using Categories and Favorites in Email Settings

Once you’ve organized your Deltek Kona spaces on a more granular level, you might want to revisit the Notifications area in your profile.  One of the most exciting features in Deltek Kona this summer, is the ability to turn on the Conversation Digest for only one category or only for Favorites.  Furthermore, you can choose to mark the conversations as read once they are emailed in the Digest.

$1,000 Tip:  If you are not inclined to choose just one category for your Deltek Kona spaces, considering creating a category for spaces that you just don’t care that much about.  Then, tell Kona that you’d like to receive a periodic Conversation Digest for that category and that you’d like to mark the conversations as read.  This will still let you know what you’ve missed in a compact format, but will also keep your Kona view cleaner for all that you do wish to digest from within the application. 

If the ability to filter your Deltek Kona spaces doesn’t seem useful to you, then you have not been properly introduced to the “Kona Life”, let us help you discover how Kona can make yours and the lives of your group members easier:
 

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If you are intrigued by the mention of Billable Projects as a space filter, ask about Kona business and integration with Deltek Vision Projects and Opportunities, and with Project Navigator


Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Building Business, Technology Solutions, New Features

Join the 21st Century and Get More Social with Deltek Kona

Posted by Rana Blair on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

In the last 200 years we’ve developed a variety of methods for communicating with one another.  We’ve taken the journey from individual letters delivered by horse to instant mass communication.  How can things get any more social than that? Deltek Kona, that's how!

Being ‘social’ involves more than just communicating and working together. Merriam-Webster defines social as relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other”. 

The key phrases “talking to” and “doing enjoyable things with” only seem to reference something outside of the workplace.  In the 1980s, the focus was on output and productivity.  In the decades that followed, we labored to attain the ever elusive ‘work-life balance’.  In the new millennium, we strive toward contributing fully in our work and personal lives without restrictions of time and space.  We want to enjoy ALL of our life.

get more social, deltek konaDeltek Kona, released in spring 2012, combines all that we know about working together with the best methods of communication.  It presents that blend to us allowing us to talk to each other AND do enjoyable things with each other across our work and personal lives.  Guided by the principles of confluence, immersion, accessibility, and digestibility; the innovators at Deltek Kona have found a way to leverage the best of all the communication tools developed in the past 50 centuries (not a typo: we still draw on walls to convey our thoughts) to help us interact in a more social and enjoyable way today. 

How does Deltek Kona help us get more social?

Use Deltek Kona to Create a Hometown

Kona is organized around context specific spaces or groups.  Each space is formed with a level of focus appropriate for its purpose.  There are no limits to the number of spaces an individual can belong to or the number of members in any one space.  Each space landing page is the “hometown” for the group allowing members to participate in and view interactions that are taking place.  Over time, users begin to become acquainted with each other’s concerns, thought processes, and involvements.

Enhancing Personal Interaction

Individual users may have more than one group in common across work and personal interests.  Knowing more about what you have in common with others allows you to get more social with them as individuals.  The ability to create and store one-on-one conversations with people in your Kona network allows users continuity and privacy even when time and distance are barriers to traditional communication methods.

There are times when we are having a conversation in a group but need to direct our comments to a particular person.  Deltek Kona incorporates “@mention” functionality to expand the personal contact in the context specific discussion. Nothing encourages us to communicate more than feeling like we are being listened to and understood.

Eliminating Polarization

Deltek Kona was built to be free.  Users can enhance their organizational experience with an upgraded account.  Regardless of the type of account, the experience and interaction is the same. This removes the barriers of participation across all members of the group and continues the social experience as no one is barred from participation because they must pay.  This allows us to use Kona for all sorts of purposes, from family reunions, to political organizations, to multi-firm business projects.

Deltek Kona further removes barriers by elimination of platform dependencies.  The Kona software works the same on any operating system and internet browser.  The accessibility extends to the mobile platform where users continue to get more social from wherever they are and whenever they want to. 

Increasing Personal choice

One of the favored features of the Deltek Kona product is its flexibility with the individual users’ need to digest information and connect on in his or her own time.  From the moment one opens the Kona product, it is clear which items take priority.  A user can access a conversation with 20 unviewed in-line comments and get a clear picture within minutes.  This is the first step in creating an enjoyable social experience when working with a group.

Because the Kona team recognizes that email has its merits, they’ve enabled the individual to decide how much or little Kona activity is transferred to email.  The possibilities to limit but not eliminate are almost endless for the individual user.  Being able to choose which groups to get more social with enhances the interactions that are wanted.

With much of our productivity arising from collaborative efforts conducted across vast geographic spaces, we meet and interact with more people than ever.  The Deltek Kona tool allows us to stay informed and control the inflow of information leading to a more relaxed experience.  When we remove unnecessary stressors, we naturally take time to get more social and find common ground with those around us.  Sign-up for Deltek Kona today and join the 21st Century’s answer to communicating, socializing, and getting things done.

 

Deltek Kona, Social Collaboration

 

 

 

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Project Management, Cloud, Kona

5 Key Reasons Why Business Collaboration Tools are the Future

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 08:35 AM

business collaboration, collaboration toolsBusiness communication continues to change with each generation. The quantity and speed of information has exploded and firms are seeking new ways to handle the pressure of information overload. Are business collaboration tools the answer? We predict that these 5 reasons demonstrate why collaboration tools are the way of the future.   

  1. Reduce Dependency on Email | Imagine a world of no email. I know it sounds crazy, right? However, if you had a designated space that colleagues, sub-consultants, vendors, and clients used to collaborate about specific initiatives, projects, or marketing efforts, wouldn’t it be nice to capture all of those thoughts in an organized fashion in one area? When you think about some of the biggest challenges with email and the fact that colleagues are not always down the hall anymore, it makes sense that businesses are looking beyond email. Here are some of the things that can be improved through business collaboration tools where email consistently fails:

      • Eliminate forgotten or missed requests
      • Categorizing comments, notes, files, tasks, and requests
      • Capturing ideas, competitive intelligence, or ways to improve your business that are easily searchable
  2. Personal Meets Business | The line of business and personal continues to blur. When was the last time you worked 9-5? People are working at all times of the night and answering questions while watching their favorite TV show. Business colleagues and clients are now connected to us on Facebook and personal activities and responsibilities need to be accomplished sometimes during the work day. Social collaboration and business collaboration tend to have the same needs: to share files, ideas, assignments, calendar of events, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice to organize both business and personal in one tool? Collaboration tools like Kona are making this possible.

  3. Make Life Easier | Employees are looking at ways to balance their work and personal life, as well as, have more flexibility with their schedule. Not all tasks need to be done during work hours or even at their desk. Virtualization is becoming more common, requested, and needed in corporate America. Disasters or state emergencies have made that even more apparent. Collaboration tools are designed with mobility and accessibility in mind. Additionally, they allow people to access information and other individuals anywhere and anytime with the comfort that the information is readily available in the cloud.
     
  4. Instant Access | Business collaboration is not just for internal communication, but is also being requested by clients. Clients are looking for a better way to communicate and a better client experience. No more excuses of lost emails. Clients can instantly ping you with a question and you can immediately respond with an answer through the use of collaboration tools. What client wouldn’t like to immediately IM or video chat with their consultant to resolve issues? Setting expectations of this instant access is important. Alternatively, you could set a schedule that you are available for client questions at a particular time each day and quickly answer those pending questions in one collaboration tool.
     
  5. Integration | Collaboration tools are becoming more and more integrated with other business tools. Not only are they now integrated with our ERP, CRM and Outlook, but collaboration tools integrate with other sharing tools like Dropbox, Box, Google docs, Skype, and the list goes on. The ease of use and social familiarity increases the likelihood of usability. Integration makes it even easier for users to access data in one place through connectors.  

Business collaboration tools are all about working more effectively as a team. Let us know what you think. Has your firm been contemplating collaboration tools? See what others are saying: 

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Project Management, Building Business, Technology Solutions

Task Management Tools: Lessons Learned from Project Management

Posted by Rana Blair on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 @ 03:50 PM

Task Management ToolsMy social life is full of Project Management professionals.  Engineers, IT people, Construction Managers, and Event Planners.  I quizzed a few asking about the task management tools they use and what they liked and disliked.  After several hours of phone and instant message conversations, I realized I learned very little about the tools and a lot about the groups they work in.

Stuck on the plan

Z says he loves the Gantt chart.  He likes the graphical representation of the timeline. Great!

He spent the next 45 minutes explaining that the chart is created at the beginning of the project and is never updated even when they are clearly lagging behind.  Outside factors such as varying commitment to the project and unforeseen challenges move the actual timeline and meetings are held to determine which tasks will not be delivered to make up for the time.  Notes are kept, negotiations are executed, and none are memorialized using the task management tool he loves.

Changing the Gantt is really hard with all the different dependencies that were created at the beginning.  He keeps his own notes now in a different program that allows for commenting.  He’s not the project manager on most of the projects, so he keeps them to himself.

  • Tools must be flexible enough to change the plan and allow for the inclusion of data along with the tasks
  • Group members should have confidence that the information is located in a place where they can find it

Stuff is everywhere

K works with creative types.  He works for a MAC shop, and solutions are fewer for task management tools so they use email, and Lync, and the SharePoint site, etc etc.

His group has differences in communication styles, working schedules, and even location.  More time is spent managing the information so that it is visible to the group at large, which takes up as much time as completing the tasks and collaborating on the project.  Time is lost forwarding information to people who missed it or weren’t included.  At various stages, someone is invariably surprised and disagrees with the actions taken.

  • Task management tools should not care what platform you are working on or where you are
  • Communications should be easily transparent to team members even when they fall behind

Do you remember if…?

E works on long projects with a great deal of turnover and changes to tasks and timelines. The team is actually composed of clusters from different companies but one group is the document master.

There are several subsets within the group that make decisions for the project.  The discussions are held live and communication to the rest of the group on action items is relayed using email. One person updates a spreadsheet that is now too big to email and can only be accessed with a login to a program installed on a workstation.

  • The tool should allow new members to get up to speed quickly
  • Data should be accessible from anywhere to any team member

Lessons learned about task management tools

After multiple discussions on task management tools, these common themes continued to ring true. Solutions should be:

  1. Transparent
  2. Modifiable
  3. Flexible
  4. Accessible

Do you have further insight in to the task management tools your company is enabling? Respond in the comments section and let us know! 

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Project Management

Why Team Collaboration Tools are Essential for Productivity

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 10:53 AM

Team Collaboration ToolsWhat are the major productivity killers for firms in the Professional Services? For most firms, some of the biggest ones revolve around information overload, duplicated effort and other inefficiencies. 

Fortunately, team collaboration tools can address each of these areas — and thus have a positive impact on the productivity of individuals and teams throughout an organization. 

First, let’s consider the element of information overload — which for many people is exemplified in the form of an overflowing email inbox. We all know the frustration of seeing fifteen different emails with the same subject line, where people are actually commenting each other’s earlier messages — and then trying to untangle the sequence of the discussion to make some sense of it. Not only does this type of information overload take time to sort through, but the reality is that with so many emails piling up, important messages can get lost or go unread. 

Another major factor that negatively affects productivity is duplication of effort. It’s common for multiple people in a firm to be working on the same problem — but is some cases, rather than working as a team, they’re operating in unconnected silos. Even if the whole team was in the same meeting, subsets of the group may have informal follow-up meetings, or even chance encounters in a hallway. Any one of these can result in parallel (and duplicated) efforts. 

Inefficiencies come in a variety of flavors, ranging from the annoying to the scary. One of my favorites is the issue of document versioning. This is especially likely when multiple people are working separately on the same document. Unless a firm has a solid solution in place, it’s all too likely for multiple versions of a document to spring to life, each with its own edits and authors. Sorting through the different versions to create one final document can be a time-consuming source of frustration. 

Real team collaboration is a beautiful thing

Now let’s switch gears and talk about some of the productivity gains a firm can realize by implementing effective team collaboration tools. 

One of the most essential functions that collaboration tools perform is organizing team members’ communications into a centralized repository of conversations around specific tasks and issues within the project. In the Kona tool, for example, individuals can have conversations with one colleague, a small group within the team, or the entire team. They can also see the various subtasks, view a centralized project calendar and share information with the entire team. 

Team collaboration tools can enable project managers to set up their groups so that certain members are able to see all conversations, while others have a more limited view. This capability can be especially critical when collaborating with clients. 

Kona in particular has found an effective way to address the problem of sharing documents among members of a team – one that ensures that everyone is working off the latest version. Instead of sending colleagues the actual document as an email attachment, users can send links to where the master files are stored (including such online services as Dropbox, Box or Google Drive). 

Last but not least, when collaboration tools are web-enabled, like Kona, they’re ideal for optimizing the way people work in the real world. After all, not all of our productive time is spent at work; we can also be productive when we’re in between doing other tasks, whether at home, on business trips or elsewhere. Team collaboration tools allow individuals to continue being productive, wherever and whenever inspiration hits. 

Summing up

Until a firm finds an effective way to address factors like information overload, duplication of effort, and inefficiencies, its productivity will probably suffer. Team collaboration solutions may hold the key to making the most of your team’s collective abilities — and at the same time, minimizing the overlaps, dropped balls and other issues that may be limiting your productivity.
 

 

Blogs and Articles written by Sarah Gonnella

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Project Management, Client Relationships, Professional Services

How to Use Social Collaboration Tools in a Professional Services Firm

Posted by Rana Blair on Wed, Mar 05, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

SOCIAL COLLABORATION TOOLSLet’s be clear: people are not squirrels. That being said, when you’re trying to get your firm’s employees to interact with each other effectively, it may seem like trying to herd the little woodland creatures.

Most firms’ leaders already know that the most effective answers to this challenge involve improving collaboration, communication and teamwork. Easier said than done, right?

Fortunately, social collaboration tools can improve the effectiveness of not only your individual employees themselves, but also the separate functions within the firm and also the organization as a whole. Here are some of the ways a firm can use these innovative tools to add value throughout the organization.

Executives

From the CEO or partner’s perspective, social collaboration tools have the potential to improve productivity at every level within the organization. Here’s how:

  • Individual employees are empowered to share information and collaborate on projects more efficiently and keep their managers and colleagues up-to-date in real time.
  • Functional units can collaborate more effectively, because managers have better insight into the status of all ongoing projects. Managers also have a central location for all project communication that doesn’t disappear when an employee leaves.
  • Differentiating your firm from the competition by providing a collaborative environment for not only your internal team members, but outside consultants and clients. 

As an example, collaboration tools such as Kona make it far easier to include clients as team members throughout the process. Compared to other firms that simply use emails and phone calls to keep clients in the loop, a firm using these tools can enable more integrated and up-to-date communication with clients, and at the same time, create a more enjoyable customer experience. 

Project Managers

On each project, project managers can get better visibility into milestones and issues, improving project efficiency as well as the client’s experience in several ways:

  • Improves team members’ communication and accountability, while reducing time wasted in status meetings.
  • Strengthens the project manager’s relationship with the client, and also differentiates the firm.
  • Brings new staff up-to-speed more rapidly, shortening the time required before they can contribute.
  • Creates a centralized record of working issues, tagged and easily searchable. 

Marketing/Business Development

Professionals in a firm’s marketing/BD function, like its executives, stand to benefit in the long term from the differentiation that can result from effectively managed social collaboration tools. They also benefit in more tactical ways:

  • Improves communication and accountability in proposal planning, development, and review, including go/no-go decisions.
  • Streamlines event planning and tradeshow preparation.
  • Provides unified view of specific tasks across multiple BD proposal efforts happening simultaneously.
  • Enables greater consistency and knowledge transfer across multiple groups working on proposals and other repeatable processes. 

Information Technology

IT departments can use these tools to address a range of technical needs and, at the same time, change the culture to one that is more collaborative. Among its impacts, a social collaboration tool:

  • Enhances internal and external collaboration while protecting network information.
  • Is less expensive than traditional collaboration solutions such as SharePoint.
  • Improves management of complex IT projects and saves time by enabling peer support.
  • Allows the CIO and other leaders to be more aware and experience the “pulse” of individual projects and issues.

Human Resources

For the HR function, these tools can help in ways that are both strategic and logistical. Social collaboration tools:

  • Streamline and expedite recruiting and on-boarding processes.
  • Use two-way internal communication about tasks, events, and topics to create a more collaborative environment and improve employee engagement.
  • Allow HR employees to be more productive in planning and implementing internal events and initiatives.

Accounting

For the accounting function, social collaboration tools bring new efficiencies to a variety of ongoing processes in multiple ways:

  • Rather than having to dig through email chains and contact multiple individuals for updates and answers, accounting professionals can streamline the month-end close process by generating repeatable steps to organize and capture financial information.
  • Contract management can be improved by creating templates with specific steps and forms to guide each project.
  • Accounting staff can create a private but accessible space to capture progress and follow-up on A/R issues, assign individual responsibilities and maintain a centralized log of progress toward resolution.

The Collaborative Edge

In a sense, your most important asset could also be a liability:  If your staff cannot collaborate effectively, you’re not optimizing your firm’s capabilities. Social collaboration tools have the potential to improve collaborative capabilities at every level and in every area of your organization, bringing about measurable improvements. At the same time, they can help you create a better client experience and differentiate your firm from others — critical factors in attracting and retaining clients and employees.  

Deltek Kona, Social Collaboration

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Client Relationships, Professional Services

Do You Have the Correct Project Collaboration Tools in Place?

Posted by Scott Seal on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 11:30 AM

Project Collaboration ToolsThe weather this winter has played havoc with the daily lives of millions of individuals, as well as countless businesses. 

One industry that has felt the impact in a unique way is that of professional services firms. These firms rely heavily on collaboration among their team members to manage and work on their projects. Unless they were already prepared to allow employees to work remotely, when the bad weather hit, many of them had to simply shut down until employees could once again manage to get to the office. 

Fortunately, technology is offering better and better project collaboration tools that allow team members to work together no matter where they’re located. But that’s just the tip of the snowdrift, so to speak. These solutions also make life easier for individual project managers and team members, increase the amount of creative collaboration among members of the team, and ultimately result in better projects. What’s more, they allow firms to easily include clients based in other locations, helping to maintain and build communication when meeting face-to-face isn’t an option. 

Let’s look at some of the key capabilities that effective project collaboration tools enable within a firm.

  • Communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. The most essential capability is making sure all the people involved on a project are able to effectively communicate and collaborate with each other. Any given project can include various employees and teams within the firm, as well as assorted external individuals, such as client representatives, consultants, and attorneys. A group this diverse often presents challenges in terms of finding communication channels and applications software that everyone can access and use — whether from their desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
  • Organizing the work. A second major function of effective project collaboration tools is to manage the tasks that are involved in each particular project. This function allows the project manager to use a central, intuitive resource to manage the many individual deadlines that are typically managed through email and Excel spreadsheets to complete milestones.
  • Streamlining document management. A third major function that effective collaboration tools address is that of document-sharing. Using a tool such as Kona, for example, allows you to share documents that your entire team (including external members) can view. As a result, instead of searching through dozens of emails to find the documents you need, you and your team have a centralized location. In addition, users have the option of uploading files directly to Kona or using other file-sharing solutions, like Dropbox, Google Docs, or SharePoint.
  • A better view across projects. An effective project collaboration tool allows project managers to have a view across all the projects they are managing. As a result, they not only have insight into the specific tasks, conversations and files for the current project, but can also view upcoming tasks and new conversations and files in one widely-accessible environment. 

Better collaboration, better results

For firms in the professional services space, project collaboration tools offer a wide array of functionalities that can help improve not only the interactions of a given project’s team, but ultimately, the quality of the ideas and solutions the firm delivers to the client. An added benefit of technology-enabled collaboration is that it can help create a better experience for the clients involved — and that can help a firm differentiate itself from its competition.

Deltek Kona, Social Collaboration

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Project Management, Professional Services

7 Ways Your Team Can Improve Project Collaboration

Posted by Wendy Gustafson on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

group collaboration, team collaboration, improve collaborationWhen you improve project collaboration, you improve your organization’s ability to develop innovative products and processes. What are some specific strategies you should employ to get to a more collaborative environment? 

1. Focus on goals. The most effective project collaboration tends to be aimed at a specific goal or goals. So a natural place to start the process is with a discussion of the pain points/problems for a given project that the team is trying to address. Starting in this way ensures that team members share a specific understanding of what success will look like, and also makes it easier to take periodic measurements of the team’s progress and compare it against the established goals. 

2. Create small, diverse, nimble teams. The best way to encourage collaboration on a team is to keep groups small and diverse. For inspiration, consider that one of history’s most prolific inventors, Thomas Edison, liked to organize his people into teams of 8 or less that included a variety of disciplines (his light bulb team, for example, included chemists, mathematicians, and glassblowers). Fortunately, collaboration tools on the market make it easier than ever to include team members not only from different parts of an organization, but from different parts of the world. 

3. Build trust. To improve project collaboration, it’s crucial for team members to trust and respect one other. In a similar vein, they must be sure that management is supporting them, providing the time needed for collaboration, and giving credit where it’s due. If you’re assembling a team with members who are working together for the first time, consider team-building exercises that allow the members to get to better know each other and their work/communication styles — building cohesion and trust in the process. 

4. Choose appropriate tools. We live and work in the age of the app — and that’s good news for organizations that are seeking to improve project collaboration. There are many software tools that empower collaboration — not only widely-known ones such as DropBox that facilitate file sharing, but also other, lower cost (and even free) tools for screen sharing, real-time chats and IMs, scheduling and more. Click here to read about our five favorite collaboration tools. 

5. Appreciate different approaches to technology. Ultimately, you’ll want your team members all using the specific collaboration tool or tools that you select, for ease of management and cost effectiveness, if nothing less. That being said, it’s helpful to keep in mind that not everyone may be ready to adapt to the new technology at the same time (“hey, what’s wrong with me just collaborating via e-mail?”). Be realistic, and build a process and schedule that allows time for bringing every member up to speed on the new technology. 

6. Allow sufficient time for success. Evolving to a more collaborative environment is not a simple or quick process. Rather, it requires changes in not only how group members work individually and together, but also in the level of trust that the individuals have in each other and in management. Try to manage expectations in such a way that you maintain enthusiasm for the new possibilities the process will enable, with the realism that success will not come overnight. 

7. Effectively capture information and ideas. Last but not least, make sure your have a system to capture and store the group’s collective work, as well as individual members’ contributions. Unlike using simple email for communication among team members, the leading collaboration tools create central repositories where communication and documents can be archived for later referral — a very useful capability to have throughout a project, but especially when a key team member leaves. 

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your collaboration engines!

Collaboration may seem like just another corporate buzzword … but for the most part, the strategies underlying it are not too different from your other tried-and-true business practices. By carefully establishing and guiding your project teams, equipping them with the most effective collaboration tools, and managing expectations appropriately, your organization can be on its way to far more innovative and responsive products and services. 

Ready to begin collaborating as a team? Read our below blog to learn how to work more cohesively:

 

Team Collaboration Techniques

Topics: Collaboration Software Tool, Project Management, Building Business