Inter-company collaboration—What you need to know

Currently, collaboration solutions focus on internal collaboration within your organization; however the need for cross-company collaboration in areas such as consulting sales, financial due diligence, and development partnerships have required business to look for new and reliable ways to collaborate securely. Internal collaboration tools are ineffective; CafeX understands you need the following to help your organization to collaborate:

A collaboration workspace baseline

The collaboration baseline is the minimum set of features and requirements that you need for teams to begin working together.  The applications that you use have to be pervasive and not hinder users; if there is any friction, users find other ways to get the job done. Regardless of the service, it has to remain accessible because users are going to connect from their web browser either on desktop or mobile phone.  Collaboration requires the following core services to provide teams with the tools to cooperate on their given task:

  • Meetings—Instant and scheduled voice and video meetings, screen share, phone dial-in.
  • Chat—Persistent text chat and instant messaging.
  • Content share—Give teams access to work and comment on documents and application data.

These services are taking the place of instant messaging and email as the go-to tools within enterprises; however it’s not the case across company borders.

Finally, A collaborative workspace helps teams to coordinate their efforts, so that specific tasks and goals can be kept together in a single location, with a consistent user experience.

Challo recognizes these features are a minimum for collaboration and work as the baseline.  Although they are common in many services today, you need solutions that reduce friction so that teams from different organizations can act on a single task together. 

There are stepping stones you need to achieve for collaboration with external organizations to work. 

No duplicates

When multiple teams work on content together, it is common for users to drop to the most ubiquitous tools to share their progress, especially when some members may not have access to the applications the rest of the team is using. This is prevalent when organizations need to consolidate teams. Typically, they end up using email and duplicating content; sending countless editions and alterations back and forth between the interested parties.  Unless great care is taken, it results in changes being lost and often it is not appropriate to share private or corporate information using email because an organization cannot waive control of the original documents.

It is common for SaaS services to provide read-only, or view-only access on documents; however, these do not always provide those users with the ability to comment or work on the document in progress. For collaboration to be effective, organizations need seamless access to each other’s tool sets, while ensuring users from all parties can communicate. It’s important for both organizations to track their data while this happens.  Collaboration solutions need to deliver on the promise of no duplicates while maintaining the content share baseline.

Bring your own storage

In the cloud, the integrity of your data is of paramount importance. The most basic security questions are: Where is your data, now?  Tenanted SaaS solutions typically require organizations accept that their data is hosted in the provider’s cloud, as a result the organization has to relinquish some control of it. Instead, look for solutions that allow you to bring your own storage. With bring your own storage you provide the service provider with access to your managed storage, in Microsoft Azure or AWS for example.  This means your organization can abide by local compliance rules and regulations and allows you to answer your security questions confidently. Put simply, your own your data.

External collaboration

True collaboration is when more than one organization can work together on a specific topic or goal.  Some CaaS providers do give access to external collaborators, there are some common pitfalls that you have to avoid.  

It’s important for external collaborations to keep their identity when collaborating together.  Primarily this allows you to track, audit and understand who you are working with. In addition, it means you can access your resources with the context of your collaboration as yourself.  Maintaining your identity across a workspace also plays a significant part when managing permissions.

Choose a solution that provides unambiguous and explicit access permissions for all your users and all of the content they are sharing.  It may be easy to provide access to a single file, but managing the permissions across different applications becomes difficult. Similarly, consider how your business partners share their content with you.  Collaboration solutions need to be two-way to make sure both parties are working effectively with the tool sets they are familiar with. If you collaborate with more than one partner, you may have to maintain multiple guest identities across many applications. It’s important you are maintaining an identity, and managing permissions in the context of a workspace, rather than across disparate files or applications.

Summary

In summary, for collaboration between organizations to be effective assess the following:

  • Collaboration workspace baseline 
  • No duplicates
  • Bring your own storage
  • Support external collaboration