In my role as a customer engagement manager here at Huddle, I frequently get asked how other organizations have made onlineproject collaboration work for them. 

Plenty of organizations have tried to implement an online project collaboration platform and failed, so they are hesitant to try again.  In my experience, there are a few key points which will make the adoption of online collaboration successful.

1. Identify a project / program / campaign where there is a true need for online project collaboration

All too often, I see an online project collaboration tool that has been forced into an existing project or program, which doesn’t actually require it. If the established ways of working aren’t broken, why try and fix them?  The most successfulproject management methodologies I’ve encountered involved online collaboration from the outset.   The tool/service has been integrated into processes from the very beginning of the project / program /campaign /consultation and as the work expands and grows, the online project collaboration tool becomes a valuable resource for content (both past and present) and sharing knowledge.

2. A little bit of top-down pressure and leading by example goes a long way

If you want the members of your project / program /campaign /consultation to use the tool you’ve implemented, practice what you preach!  Get senior people involved and get them to use the tool.  People are more inclined to adopt new technology if they see that the management team is using it too and not just trying to implement new technology for the sake of it.

3. Make sure you establish best business practices from the outset

One of the frequent complaints I hear about using online collaboration is: “I used it once and got inundated with email notifications.” If you’ve made the decision that your project is going to use an online collaboration tool then set some policies about how your users will use it before you roll it out.  You wouldn’t copy everyone in a project onto every email you ever send; likewise there’s no need to notify every user of everything you ever do in your online collaboration tool.  Think about what you’re going to use the tool for. Is it going to be a file repository and if so, how do you want your users to contribute their content to it?  Do your users need to sign up to a code of conduct before being allowed into the tool?  As the project expands, how will the use of the tool evolve; do you create sub-groups or new folders within one large group?  A bit of forward planning doesn’t go amiss.

4. Make it the only way to access useful or vital information

If you email information that everyone needs to access as well as uploading it into your online project collaboration tool, people have no reason to login.  The one surefire way to drive your users into your online collaboration tool is to make it the only place to get the information they need to do their job.

5. Engage, engage, engage!

Make your online project collaboration tool a pretty place to be.  Don’t invite users into a blank canvas – I can guarantee that most of them won’t bother coming back.  Before you invite your users in, populate it with information your users will find useful.  Spend a little time customizing it as much as your tool allows.  Turn off access to areas that won’t be used so users don’t get distracted.  If you are able to upload logos or branding, do it so that your users feel like they’re coming in to a familiar place.  Populate your user profile and encourage your users to do the same.  People like seeing everyone else’s photos and establishing who is actually on their team.

The most successful implementations of online project collaboration that I’ve seen have followed these steps.  They’re simple, but believe me they work!

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