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Defining Successful Collaboration through Metrics

Metrics are hard. Well, getting them right, anyway. In my experience, most organizations will readily set goals and embark upon new strategic initiatives without establishing proper monitoring and measurements. Without metrics, it can be difficult to determine success — or failure.  As plans are established, resources scheduled, and money spent to improve adoption and engagement, many companies fail to create a baseline for these activities before they start. There is rarely a clear picture of what success looks like. As a result, nobody is sure of the time and expense to achieve the stated collaboration goals, or the value derived.

As organizations consider building out their collaborative capabilities, it is important to also build into the platform the necessary monitoring and measurement capabilities to help management quantify the benefits of what is being built.

One mistake companies make is thinking that the more intuitive the technology, the more obvious the business value — and employee engagement will follow. While it is true that rolling out collaboration tools can broadly help improve communication and team cohesiveness, you cannot also assume that this translates into increased business value. Qualitative improvements are important — such as building an improved UI that makes collaborating across teams easier, more user-friendly — but successful collaboration must also be measured by its quantitative benefits. For example, faster product release cycles, or a reduced mean time to resolution of customer issues. Deciding which measurements or key performance indicators are right for your organization depends largely on the goals of your platform, and the culture of your organization.

My advice is to take it slow. If you have well-defined metrics, that’s great. But most organizations would benefit from a more gradual approach that includes piloting of both your new collaboration technology — and your KPIs. Start with some high-level measurements in place, but be prepared to adjust them as you learn more about how your employees are actually using the platform.

Where to begin? There are a number of ways that you can capture data around your platform from which you can identify your current baseline of activity, and the qualitative and quantitative measurements needed to track progress over time. For example:

  • Create a publish a common vision for collaboration, and make it clear that this strategy has executive support. Lead by example.
  • Conduct initial and regular pulse surveys. What do employees think about the old platform compared with the new? How are they using the technology with their workloads, and which features are not being used? What requirements are not being met? Are they aware of all of the tools and data available to them? How responsive do they think you are to their needs?
  • Create consistent communications, including new publications for focused content, and new communities with the goal of improving education and training, and getting more information in front of people. Make it clear that you are listening, and be responsive to their suggestions.
  • Revisit your change management policies, and ensure people understand the process for suggesting improvements to the system. Make the prioritization and status of those changes transparent.
  • Develop reward and recognition programs to encourage sharing and contributions.

Clearly defined governance and consistent communications are at the core of improving end user adoption and engagement — and showing progress assumes you have some kind of KPIs in place. If you’re experiencing serious issues with end user engagement, the first step is always to get a clear picture of where things are today through metrics. Only with awareness can you begin to take the right steps forward and build out healthy collaboration practices within your organization.

Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley

Chief Marketing Officer for Beezy. Passionate about all things collaboration & social. Office365 MVP.

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