Very few of us are fortunate enough to start with a clean slate when planning 2.0 business collaboration projects; depending on the size and age of your enterprise you are likely to be dealing with powerful existing and legacy systems and their associated processes and departments.
Navigating a successful path to genuine enterprise wide utility in harmony with these pre existing systems requires juggling an understanding of some fundamentals…
The topography is the existing infrastructure of your enterprise and the management command lines that created it (which may well have changed since inception).
Within this topography are the ring fences and DMZ’s - security restraints imposed on the IT world’s inhabitants. Inside this world, which information is the crown jewels, carefully protected and shared with only those who need access to it, and which information needs to be broadly shared in order to foster collaboration, sometimes with partner organizations and even the outside world?
For those of us charged with creating an enterprise collaboration environment, finding within this terrain a firm foundation - seismic activity is not unusual in the corporate world - on which to plan and build an appropriate collaboration environment is paramount.
Creating a roadmap that reflects consensus around agreed objectives enables executive agreement and funding. This same information will also subsequently provide a clear and consistent overview of the system for users, and a base for effective contextual training if needed.
There are now thousands of possible enterprise collaboration 2.0 solutions to specific business issues available to the enterprise. Deciding which solutions to pick, whether they are to live behind the firewall (costly) or hosted elsewhere as ‘software as a service’ (intellectual property perceived as less secure) can be defined by sensitivity of data and the information being collaborated upon.
The devil is in the details when putting a viable system together, so the ‘highway construction’ roadmap through your topography is usually project milestone driven. First the basic roads are put in (user accounts, single sign on to multiple applications, etc) and then the destinations are connected (wikis, forums, other appropriate applications…).
As with all journey planning, deciding who is in charge of direction – the person/people responsible for the roadmap - is all important. Creating an environment that successfully nurtures people to collaborate requires clear thinking after carefully listening to all users– ‘group think’ can result in wrong turns and bias towards the loudest special interests.
The clearer the thinking and the greater the agreement at the journey planning stage - defining destination and objectives – the greater the likelihood of user uptake of a successful system.