The Cost of Sharing A collaborative mix, or a collaborative mess?
Independent research study conducted by
Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s Introduction Research Methodology A Word from Workshare Executive Summary Report Definitions Content - The Content Created The Collaborative Gap The Contribution Puzzle Technology - The Technology to Manage The 'Save as' Culture People - The People That Share The Etiquette of Collaboration Finance - The Penalties for Failure Missing the Deadline Conclusions Top Ten Tips
I ntroduc tion Research Methodology The survey on which this report was developed by Vanson Bourne, an independent IT market research company, on behalf of Workshare, was conducted in order to help Workshare better understand the pressures and challenges at play with businesses sharing and contributing to documents and corporate information. A company sample was drawn from widely differing business sectors. Individuals active in collaboration, specifically with documents, within those companies were initially identified through a telephone research process, before a random sample of 100 was interviewed. The topics covered by the interviews ranged from content productivity and how much document collaboration takes place, to what the risks of failure are, given the high incidence of mission-critical activity we uncovered in the document production and document collaboration process. The Cost of Sharing was written in November 2003 by Vanson Bourne's independent analysts, based on the survey findings. We believe this report highlights a range of thought-provoking issues, especially given that its subject, productivity around document creation, is endemic across business and is implicit in the success of the knowledge based economy.
A Word from Workshare Content Productivity and What we Mean by It QUESTION: When was the last time you raced towards an important document deadline, still waiting for contributions and approvals from lots of different people, battling against an e-mail inbox of multiple document versions and praying that the 'doc.final' didn't crash? In the information economy, we have become an army of document creators. There are many companies across the globe whose sole outputs are documents. Other businesses, though not built on documents alone, will dedicate a significant amount of resource to managing and creating documents and corporate information. A recent Gartner report states that organisations spend between 10% and 14% of their time creating documents, that's at least half a day of company resources per week. As technology is seen more and more as a utility, and business applications become more pervasive, the opportunity to use technology to collaborate on tasks and share information increases. We would all agree that the telephone is the single biggest collaboration tool ever invented. Today however, the tools we have at our disposal, those that create documents such as Microsoft® Office, and those that are the delivery mechanism for these documents, such as Lotus Notes® and Microsoft Outlook, are now a part of our everyday lives. Today we send emails to contribute to discussions before we even think about picking up the telephone. We share documents and annotate ideas and opinion as a matter of course. IT has become an integral part of the collaboration process. We couldn't live without e-mail just as we couldn't live without the telephone. Documents are rarely the product of one individual. Inside the walls of a Microsoft® Word file sits the work of many, the 'content' that is the essence of collaboration. Its simple objective is to produce the most effective output in the most efficient way, but the sheer volume of 'sharing' that exists inside business today often results in productivity losses and poor quality control. Isn't it ironic that in trying to achieve an objective, we sometimes achieve the opposite? A fundamental problem when working with other people inside the document is the lack of process and management involved. It is an area of business process that is often overlooked. Collaboration at this intimate level has developed in an ad hoc manner mainly because of the technology made available to create documents, and the number of people now involved in the process. Without sufficient focus on how we create, amend and approve documents, the true efficiencies of collaboration will never be achieved. As a technology company, Workshare is critically aware that business users do not warm to change. We believe that, following the fundamental business changes brought about by the internet, any new layers of technology should fit seamlessly into existing practices. Like any utility, a new service or application should be designed for effortless and instinctive consumption. In light of this, we decided to take a look at the levels of awareness within businesses surrounding how people work together on documents and how companies are tackling the problems of increasing productivity in the area of content creation, or in other words "content productivity". The result is a valuable insight into the issue of content productivity, which for the first time opens up the debate on how collaboration can be improved 'inside' the document, and the fact that there are huge productivity savings there for the taking.
Report Definitions What kind of documents and business are we talking about? Of the 200 million people using Microsoft速 Office across the world, around 40 million are known as 'heavy document users' or are people who work on documents with more than two other people at any given time. It is this audience that has been targeted for opinion on the area surrounding content productivity. This audience can be defined as companies that view the production of documents as an important component of their business. Important documents are defined by the following attributes:
Collaboration Time Effort Quality Money Risk
Worked on by more than two people Subject to a deadline, usually externally driven Time intensive to produce Must adhere to quality standards or regulations (i.e. , client focused) Revenue generating and/or efficiency saving in some way Of losing business (revenue), of regulatory penalty or legal redress
Who is responsible for managing important documents? Identifying the target group for the process of content productivity ownership is complicated, in that there is little continuity of this role from company to company. Owners fall into two broad groupings: the intellectual collaborators, whose input is their expertise and experience; and the administrative collaborators, whose role is as owner of the process, responsible for making sure the intellectuals provide what is required on time. They are generally responsible for keeping the document on its critical path in terms of content and timeliness. These two discrete groups were brought together in pre-research contact screening. Each needed to meet a number of requirements, involving the contribution and process ownership, in order to provide informed comment on the matter of content productivity.
What is content productivity? This term quantifies the cost/benefit of the process when creating and managing content, specifically everything that exists inside a document, such as the words on the page and/or the numbers in the column.
What is document collaboration? This term describes the process of people working together to produce documents.
What is a multi-author environment? This term is used to identify a document that has multiple people contributing to the content of a document, either internal or external to the business.
Executive Summary Thanks to the explosion of internet technology and the pervasiveness of MicrosoftÂŽ Word, millions of knowledge workers create tens of millions of documents every month. We have become an army of 'human word processors'. Microsoft Word documents are our products and the internet is our communications channel and delivery mechanism. This creates major information management problems and not just for 'techies'. People in business today write and send huge amounts of documents and data, with companies and individuals dependent upon the accuracy, security and credibility of the information that is created. Creating and sending documents for consumption is, however, only part of the problem. When we are asked as individuals to contribute to these documents by sharing information, ideas and opinions, a raft of issues spring up for businesses trying to manage document content and productivity. The Cost of Sharing report looks at businesses to establish the need for process, management and investment in order to benefit project teams and workgroups on a number of levels, specifically the area of becoming more productive when working on documents with other people. The research outlines a 'collaborative mix' of content, technology and people that form the basis for discussion throughout the report. Within the collaborative mix, the groups of people working together to produce important documents are complex. There are two broad groupings of people associated with document productivity, those that contribute to a document and those that manage contributions. These groups are not strictly defined as in many instances a member of any team can be fulfilling both roles depending on the work in hand. The report also finds that over half of these people contribute and collaborate from multiple geographic locations, and over three quarters of the documents produced involve input from people outside the organisation itself. When assessing UK companies ability to tackle the issues raised by the research, findings fall into the following areas:
Content Technology People Finance
The scale of content created The technology to manage The people that share The penalties for failure
Content - The scale of content created 1. Contributions to document chaos An organisation has multiple people working on multiple versions of multiple documents. There are on average 150 instances of collaboration and input in any business at any one time. That's every day of every week of every year.
2. This is not an internal matter, it's an external, global issue Almost three quarters of businesses surveyed need to manage input, amendments and contributions to documents from people outside the organisation and in different countries.
3. Email is the 'route' of complication 93% of companies use email as a method to submit documents to their final recipients. It is also the common denominator for making and sending changes to documents internally. This raises questions regarding information volume and security.
Technology - The technology to manage 1. There is no standard practice when contributing to a document People use whatever means are at hand and convenient for them to submit documents for review. This includes phone, fax, email and paper. This has a significant impact on workflow and business process because managing the response inputs can be extremely time consuming and frustrating.
2. Documents hide confidential information for all to see There are inherent dangers due to document metadata, which identifies historical changes within a document, author histories and document origins. Awareness of the term 'document metadata' is low and fewer still know of its dangers.
3. 90% of the documents in circulation started life as something else To save time, it has become the norm in many companies to use a previous document as the template for a new one. This is termed as the 'save as' culture, increasing the risk of confusion and error in the creation of new documents .
People - The people that share 1. Amendment 'anarchy' makes management difficult People like to think more about what they contribute, not how they work together. Some employees formally review and amend documents, some dictate to others and some scribble on post it notes.
2. Everyone is running late The majority of respondents agree that the most frustrating part of the collaboration process is getting colleagues to complete tasks on time.
3. Few companies are in control Only 14% of the companies we researched feel that they are in control of the big issue of getting contributions and feedback to critical documents in on time, and in the correct format.
Finance - Lost efficiency and missed deadlines 1. Collaboration has clear costs Productivity losses through poor management of content collaboration are evident, and it is clear that loss of productivity equals higher costs. Companies are also exposed to financial penalties from missing delivery deadlines from clients, or third-parties.
2. Action to put things right is slow Recognition of the possible penalties of failing to deliver on time has resulted in an evaluation of workflow process and collaboration, but most businesses have failed to address the specific issue of improving productivity 'inside' the document, which has a direct impact on business performance.
A collaborative mix, or a collaborative mess? The chances of the latter happening seem favourable, as we'll see in the following sections.
Content - The Content Created Scaling the problem This first section of the report looks at how much document collaboration is actually taking place in typical UK businesses and whether content productivity and the collaborative environment are favourable. To that end we posed questions about the scale of the process, how many people are involved, where they are based, and so on.
As figure 1 shows, of the companies we researched almost two-thirds have more than 20 important
Figure 1: How many important documents might your organisation be collaborating on at any one time?
documents going through the collaborative creation
process at any one time. The average for the whole sample was 23 documents doing the rounds.
4% Less than 5
Figure 2, shows that the average number of people contributing to any given document is
More than 20
Figure 2: How many different people might typically contribute to the content of an important document?
around seven. Using the 23/7 equation, (23 documents, 7 contributors) as a conservative average to quantify the number of touch points to
any given document gives us 160 'nodes' on the typical collaborative network. These touch points could include individuals making contributions to documents, making copies, making amendments
via e-mail, fax, etc.
On the upside, that is 160 opportunities to improve content productivity. Alternatively, it is a spaghetti of opinion and alteration that increases the risk of error, wastes resource and increases productivity
More than 10
NOTE: In 63% of the companies where more than 10 people typically work together on any single document, they have more than 20 important documents in circulation. That equates to in excess of 200 document versions on the theoretical collaborative network, and in some instances could get as high as 500! Remember, that is every working day of the year.
But there is more complexity to this equation? To compound the problem, we asked about the likelihood of there being several versions of the important document at large in the collaborative network at any one time.
As figure 3 shows, almost half the companies we spoke to do have multiple versions in play. If
Figure 3: Do people participating in the important document creation process only have access to the master version, or can there be several versions in circulation?
everyone in the collaborative team was working on
Only have master versions
his or her own version of a document, some companies we researched could have in excess of
300 different versions of collaborated documents in circulation at any one time.
48% Can be several versions in circulation
As figure 4 shows, a very high majority of the people
Figure 4: Do you keep a copy of every iteration of the document during its creation?
we interviewed do hang onto a copy of everything they can. What does this do to the scope of the
6% Don't know
document management and data storage problem?
If every person in the collaborative team creates just one iteration of the document, which is probably a conservative estimate, the duplication of effort and increased need for document management stifles productivity. It may be a shortcut to collaboration in
a task-to-task basis, but adds to the complexity and security of delivering a finished article.
Having put into context the amount of copies and multiple master versions of documents sitting out in the wild of a collaborative network, the issue of inefficiency and management soon comes to the surface.
The collaborative gap For a knowledge or information-based company, every output is important and therefore all documents for external consumption can have major impact on the company, but do companies have a process for prioritising important documents?
Figure 5 shows the sample we researched split down the middle.
Figure 5: Do you have a grading scheme for importance/urgency/sensitivity of collaborated documents?
Is that a positive outcome? The point to consider is
that the industries surveyed are heavy document users. In most instances, delivering mission critical documents is integral to profit and loss.
With only half an eye on prioritising document
Figure 6: Is there a formal workflow procedure in place?
importance and urgency, the question of overall workflow management produces some interesting
5% Don't know
results, as figure six shows.
A large majority of the companies we researched claim to have a formal process in place. But where documents are not graded (and we saw that very many are not), how can workflow priorities function? However, at face value figure 6 suggests that
82% 82% Yes
maybe as few as 5% of companies we researched might not have a formal workflow process. It is evident from figure 5 however, that urgency and importance of documents does not factor into most organisations' workflow procedures. This is supported by the fact that 45% of companies that claimed to have a formal workflow procedure do not have a grading scheme for documents. In short, workflow processes do not address the important issue of content productivity. Existing workflow processes will help manage email volumes to a degree and document management systems will help store word documents, but they do little to address contributions, amendments and change to documents - the activity that takes place inside the document, the critical point in the collaborative process. What have we seen so far? Complex collaborative networks and traffic coupled with patchy attention to management form the basis of the productivity challenge. Perhaps these businesses compensate by having rigid collaborative teams and sanctioned methods that work to deliver successful content productivity from the apparent chaos?
The contribution puzzle To address this we posed questions specifically about how collaborative teams are formed and managed, and what tools they use. The thought was if we saw firm structures, perhaps teams that had their own rules and played to them, this would then mitigate some of the process and priority issues unearthed so far.
Figure 7 shows that in only 4% of the companies we researched do they work exclusively in formal fixed
Figure 7: Do fixed collaborative groups exist within your organisation or are they built on a per project basis?
collaborative teams. It is far more likely that teams are put together on an ad hoc basis, with the focus
on achieving the right intellectual input. This makes the issues of management and process more difficult with a 'moveable feast' of teams, owners and users.
Quite reasonably, priority is given to the rigour of the document content. So does the document itself have a champion? 8% 4% Fixed collaborative group exists
Figure 8 shows that contributions from people
Built on a per project basis
Figure 8: Do people outside your organisation participate in the collaboration process?
external to the organisation is also a common occurrence, which again compounds the problem of managing who is changing what, when and where it
is being sent or stored. 70% of companies surveyed will need to accommodate external input, casting the net for error and inefficiency even further.
50% No 1% Never
Just as the picture is beginning to fragment by understanding who contributes to multi-author documents, another dimension is added when we look at how those people produce documents and suggest changes.
A printed document
Email plain text The electronic version of master document using "track changes"
A document attached to an email
Fax or photocopy
Annotations attached or added to a document A handwritten note
Dictated or via phone call
Figure 9: How might contributors submit revisions or additions once the process has started?
Figure 9 shows that people use whatever means are at hand and convenient for them to submit contributions and amendments to documents. They will amend the master version, place a phone call, email, fax, etc. Will any existing workflow process really take into account the breadth of contribution mediums? With, or without effective workflow, we can see that collaboration involves the pain of managing email attachments, email updates, document changes and even reading handwritten notes.
When looking at how final versions are submitted for consumption (typically to customers, or professional
Figure 10. How do you submit documents to their final recipients, electronically, paper only, or both?
bodies, etc.), figure 10 shows that email is almost totally pervasive. In conjunction with the popularity of email in figure 9 as a delivery medium for
contributions of content to documents, this opens up many problems for users, on how to manage the volume of messages with attached documents, and also generates concerns regarding security.
6% Paper only
Email is ubiquitous across all of the industries surveyed and it is also the route of many document and information management problems in business today. However, hand written amendments and printed documents are also alive and well. How important then is technology in finding a solution to increasing productivity when working on documents with other people? The next section looks at how businesses use the technologies currently available and whether they actually help the productivity and collaboration process surrounding working with documents.
Technology - The Technology to Manage This section demonstrates that the technology typically at the disposal of document collaboration teams is as likely to hinder the achievement of the ultimate goal, than to expedite it.
Figure 11 shows very clearly that the people at the forefront of trying to make document collaboration
Figure 11: What would you say is the prime purpose of the collaborative process in your organisation?
work have a broad view of what document collaboration means. Only 20% of respondents focused on the intellectual content element alone,
although a similar number talk about ideas sharing.
1% Producing the right final document
Creating new intellectual property
Creating team spirit and bonding
The majority of respondents consider the production of a final product to be the most important aspect of collaboration. This embraces the rigour of the intellectual content, but recognises equally the vital importance of the process and the first line of any document heavy business as being a perfect product delivered on time. How does technology help here? We have already seen in the earlier section how people are using technology to save every iteration of the document content. We've also seen that several versions of important documents are likely to be in circulation at any one time. So, basic electronic storage (a document management system, for example), track changes, and email distribution form the backbone of a document collaborative network. But, these are defensive measures, used to reduce the chaos caused by the document collaborators. The people contributing revisions and amendments to documents are using such a wide array of methods to make their side of the document collaboration process easy, that the stress in the collaborative system is all with the document owner. Tools exist to solve this problem, but often it is a general ignorance to the technology issues surrounding content productivity and collaboration and the lack of standard process in this specific area that cause the most pain.
The 'save as' culture Did you know that most of the documents you receive started life as something else? One of the joys of word processing is the ability to reuse documents. Boilerplate text that covers terms & conditions, company descriptions, etc., is an extremely valuable time-saver. Equally, it is possible to create template files that provide the document's formatting. However it's easy to open and edit an existing document rather than start from the empty template file.
As Figure 12 shows 30% of respondents admit that
Figure 12: Are new documents created by using a previous one as the template?
this happens frequently. Only 7%, and these were the lowest producers of important documents in the survey, never do this. To reiterate, this is a very
effective way of saving time. Who wants to start from a blank sheet when there's something that can
be edited to produce the same result? But a 'save as' culture comes with its own severe dangers.
All Microsoft Word documents have a traceable history or audit trail which includes the details of any tracked changes, the document's original author,
dates of any changes, details of who made changes, etc. If this data gives away that you might have simply re-engineered rather than innovated, what is
the chance of the document achieving its objective? Also, what is the impact on a customer, consumer or client that feels they are paying for second hand goods? This is not only an issue for the 'save as' users out there. Documents created from scratch where the content has been amended and updated can also hide historical information that risks being disclosed at a later date. This hidden data is called 'document metadata'.
Figure 13 reveals that awareness of document metadata is low. Indeed amongst companies with
Figure 13: Are you aware of the term document metadata in the context of document creation?
more than 20 important documents in play, it was even lower, at 26%, rather than the overall average of
32%. And, as figure 14 shows, amongst the minority that was aware of the term, only half actually knew what document metadata is.
So the point here is that, lurking within the technology we all use to create documents, is
Figure 14. How would you define document metadata? Base: people aware of the term document metadata.
information that increases the risk of exposure to poor company practice and also provides a security loophole for information not intended for external
6% Data that tracks & identifies changes
Hidden document content
Data that describes the document
Throughout the survey we discover that the typical technologies involved in the process of working on documents with other people fall short 1% of rectifying some of the fundamental challenges and can often expose companies to hidden risks.
Email provides people with an excellent delivery mechanism for sending information between companies or collaborative teams, but its strength in saving time on delivery can create a data jam of different documents, versions, amendments and formats.
The Document Management System (DMS) provides a flexible repository for managing files and documents, but has no impact on managing the changes and transactions inside the document and between teams and workgroups. We can also assume that the culture of making individual copies of every file an employee amends also results in personal hard drives and email servers being clogged with collaborative debris, beyond the grasp of the DMS.
Track Changes is a tool that many Microsoft Word users adopt to note document amendments, but this solves only part of the problem in increasing productivity from a review and amendment perspective. Using our typical averages of seven people involved in any collaborative process, simple tools like Track Changes will only meet the needs of person-to-person amendments, and the requirement of multi-author teams and businesses demand a solution that has an enterprise view on document amendment and collaboration. Beyond the technology solutions available to help in the processes surrounding working on documents with others, there is the added complication of traditional amendment methods (hand written amendments, for example) placing further burden on the process of consolidating changes and bringing uniformity to the collaborative process inside the document. This brings into question the human element of productivity in teams, perhaps the hardest part of the collaborative mix to manage. The following section looks at what influences content productivity from a people perspective and how this influences collaborative efficiency.
People - The People that Share It appears from this research that, for many collaborative team members, the creation of great content is an end in itself. However, finalising that document is clearly where most of the risk and productivity losses occur and where, arguably, a greater focus should be placed.
The etiquette of collaboration The priority of the collaborative owner is to keep the
Figure15: Getting contributors to deliver their content on time and in format is difficult
document on its critical path and they often feel somewhat second-string in the collaboration process.
When we asked if document reviewers and contributors appreciate the difficulties suffered by those that manage the process, only 23% said that
1% Strongly disagree
10% Strongly agree
30% 30% Agree
46% 46% On the fence
Figure 15 shows that only 14% of the companies we researched feel that they are in control of the big issue of getting contributions to documents in on time and in format. From the outside this seems such a basic matter and it's easy to be critical. But who doesn't experience increasing workloads, the continuous 'Deadline Derby' of competing priorities? And the truth is that technology compounds the problem by making it possible for people to do more in less time. Again, it's a fact of life and a solution needs to be found.
Getting people to do their bit on time Getting people's agreement on the final content
We waste time on the process that could be used getting the content better Taking people's content in different media
Making sure the correct version is being edited
Reformatting everything into a single document
Figure 16: What aspect of the document admin process do you find most frustrating?
Not surprisingly, we learn from figure 16 that peoples' commitment to timescales, and failure to deliver are the biggest stress factors for collaborative owners. What presents itself as a lack of compassion or team spirit for getting the job done on time, is more likely symptomatic of the overriding problems associated with managing version amendments and team collaboration. Confusion and 'contribution chaos' do not lend themselves to accuracy and timely completion of documents.
Figure 17 shows us that time is an ever increasing factor in turning up the pressure on document
Figure 17: Pressure to deliver important and complex documents more quickly is increasing
delivery. In terms of productivity, time is money and, if the trend identified in figure 17 continues, more people will be more frustrated by tighter timescales and a lack of 'team' efficiency.
Why is contributing 'on-time' the most challenging part of the collaboration process? Does it come from the increased pressures that pending deadlines bring? Missed document deadlines often result in financial penalties, taking the issue far beyond loss of reputation and drawing a direct link to bottom line performance. In the next section we look at just how much is understood about the impact that missed deadlines can have.
Finance - The Penalties for Failure The previous three sections paint a clear picture of how productivity can be stifled through poor management of the collaborative process. One clear financial penalty for any company experiencing problems with managing multi-author documents and struggling to complete things on time, is the loss in productivity that these problems create. The time pressure that the document owners are under, based on responses in figure 15, arise from document deadlines. In order to quantify the scale of this issue, we asked how many of the documents in the collaborative network might have delivery deadlines.
So, as we see from figure 18, a high proportion of the documents in circulation at any time have the kind of
Figure 18: What percentage of mission-critical documents have a fixed delivery deadline?
time pressure on them that affects resources, productivity and ultimately, the cost of sharing. The average is around three-quarters of documents in circulation at any given time are working towards a
fixed delivery deadline.
All of them
At least 75%
At least 50%
Less than 50%
We need to think about what sort of documents these might be and, as a consequence, what impact failure to deliver might have. Looking at the sectors from which we drew the sample, they will be legal contracts or submissions, regulatory or compliance logs, corporate finance or equity tenders, or offers and general business proposals. All of which can cause more or less immediate commercial damage if they are simply late arriving, irrespective of how compelling the content.
Missing the deadline On the one hand, it's good that two-thirds of the people we spoke to recognise that there are penalties involved in failing to produce documents efficiently.
Figure 19: Is it possible for your organisation to face a sanction, penalty or loss of business if delivery deadlines for these documents are not met?
30% Don't know
On the other, the reality is that the true cost of failure to deliver on time for document heavy industries
ought to be clear to all in the collaboration team. Almost two in every three documents is subject to financial penalty if delivered late. Typically, it is only
when a deadline is missed and a penalty incurred that
departmental heads and directors reflect on how to improve content productivity and who is ultimately responsible for the process.
Tangible penalties are only part of overall issue of cost reduction in this area. Increasing efficiencies across collaborative teams not only reduces the chances of incurring fixed penalties for missed deadlines, it also has the potential to provide significant savings on employee resource.
Conclusions The internet has changed the way we work, it has increased the efficiency of how we exchange information, and has also added to the complexity of working inside documents and working with others on specific tasks. Content productivity and collaboration are essential parts of business life and there is clearly an argument for reducing the cost of sharing by increasing the productivity of those who contribute to the process. This report establishes that many people across document-based businesses are working hard to create the best documents and to combine it into timely documents that generate revenue and deliver high value to customers, colleagues and partners. That said, a number of important factors have emerged in conducting this research that seem to demand attention: The volume of document collaboration is significant. The number of business/revenue critical documents within the overall mix is high. The inter-connectivity required between participants at the document creation and document production stages is complex, because of the number of participants and the number of documents in play. The document collaborator uses whatever means are at their disposal to dump content on the document administrator.
In response, document owners use whatever technologies are available to keep the process on the critical path, but again various factors work against them: Using existing documents as the template for a new one (the 'save as' culture) can have detrimental consequences and document metadata can inadvertently expose sensitive information to the outside world. Using email to pump multiple versions of a document around the collaborative network appears only to multiply the number of iterations creating even further chaos. Lack of email attachment management forms the biggest risk for security breaches, document corruption and 'amendment overload'.
Finally, the value to the business of content productivity isn't being managed throughout the collaborative network, leading to delay, frustration and, worst of all, loss of business, financial penalty and productivity losses. Until the people with ultimate responsibility for the documents that keep the business going recognise and communicate their importance, businesses will continue to battle against the technology, rather than have the tools in place that they need to make document collaborative teams as efficient as possible. As sponsors of this report, Workshare has outlined a 'Top Ten Tips' for content productivity that should help companies respond to the issues uncovered in this survey.
To p Te n T i p s f o r C o n t e n t P r o d u c t i v i t y 1. Measure document chaos Establish the scale of the problem in your organisation. Are most of the documents you produce critical to your business and do most involve contributions from a team of people before completion? If you fall into the heavy document user category, then your organisation needs tools and applications that address the area of content productivity.
2. Focus on ROI and high productivity Make sure that your revenue producing employees are focused on those activities that have the highest ROI, and employ practices that make them more productive. Time spent reworking corrupted documents and inputting edits into documents can take much time away from more lucrative activities.
3. Manage the amount of email Email use has become ubiquitous for us all and the amount of mail and attachments that are sent and received is tremendous. It's hard to keep track of it all. Employees need a way to easily manage their collaboration with others on documents that they have sent out via email.
4. Deal with multiple contributors Today's methods for keeping track of many changes and edits to a document are uninspired, to say the least. Understanding who made what changes, when and where can be a tremendously frustrating process. Then, trying to actually incorporate those changes that you agree with only enhances the problem. It is important to keep in mind that much time is spent on this seemingly simple task.
Work the way you always have done
Software should not enforce new working practices on your employees and should not require significant training. End users only become frustrated and do not use the software in the way it is intended to be used. Every business is different and many people have specific ways of working and don't appreciate change. Be sure to choose software that is flexible and allows your users to work in the way in which they always have done.
Support better collaboration
Global organisations are already collaborating in teams, both ad hoc and organised. Organisations should understand that teams need supporting infrastructure to increase their productivity and prevent collaborative confusion.
Understand what you are sending outside of your organisation
Awareness of the risks of document metadata is very low. How many times have you used an old document (client proposals, pricing sheets, press releases, etc.) as a template for a new document? On your computer screen it may appear that you have deleted all of the old text, but it can reappear on your customer's screen. The need for automated removal of historical information from documents is critical employees can't be relied upon to manually remove all document metadata before they email out documents. End users expect filtering and checks to be carried out automatically.
Reducing turnaround time
The importance of delivering information on time can drastically impact overall deadlines. Set deadlines for individual team members to turn around their edits on reviewed documents to ensure that document managers have the time that they need to incorporate all of the changes into their final document version.
Understand the cost implications
How many people in your company are aware of the cost of missed deadlines? Does anyone in your company know what this cost is? By understanding the implications for the company and the team, rather than relying on the individuals to deliver information, businesses have more of a vested interest in completing their tasks on time.
Get the process moving
Making change in any organisation is a challenge. Clear targets of how much information there is to manage and the cost implications of improving the processes involved, form the basis of getting content productivity moving in your business.
As The Cost of Sharing report discovers, there are a number of issues that need to be acknowledged and a number of changes that need to be made in order to improve the efficiency and reduce the risks for companies producing important documents. In order to get any initiative off the ground, buy-in is required from company management, departmental heads and board directors. The sooner the stakeholders wake up to the challenge, the sooner the company can reap the rewards.
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