Striving for effectiveness modern companies try different methods to improve. While business environment radically changes, new attitude and approach within organizations became crucial: actions must be anticipatory, adaptive, and based on a faster cycle of knowledge creation. How to ensure all coworkers are aware of decisions someone makes? How to motivate people share ideas, tell about know-how’s, discuss opportunities – and make the results stay not only in people minds, but somewhere on tangible media? The problem is even more complicated by different sorts of modern communication: face-to-face, ICQ, video-conferences, email. How to collect all information flows?
Many managers face such questions. Collect information from different sources, make decision, deliver the decision to all stakeholders. These three steps should be performed very quickly. Moreover, most of information is hidden in people heads, and people tend to make mistakes and to forget.
Let’s take a look at classical triad: people – processes – technologies. These three components are inseparably linked one with another. Some theories of company maturity say that evolution is smooth process, but we tend to say that there’re steps, and each step is characterized by its level of people maturity, process maturity and technologies. On this spiral of business development, where’re you now? What your company lacks right now? It is very probable that it’s communication technologies that need improvement. Such technologies are known in many areas: "document management", "project management tools", "corporate knowledge bases". Ideal technology for small companies or relatively simple processes should include all three components.
What can we use now to manage communications inside and outside the company? The well-known solutions for collaboration are:
- Big systems for business processes automation, like SAP, Microsoft CRM, Lotus Domino
- Systems that are historically intended for software development + corporate Wiki: Atlassian JIRA + Confluence, Kayako, TRAC.
- Systems oriented on small and medium-size business: BaseCamp by "37 signals", WebOffice by WebEx, SalesForce, CollabNet, Central Desktop and many others
First sort is very expensive for deployment. Second class may be overloaded with software engineering functions. But choosing between third class is hard enough. Which requirements do we put on the ideal system for managing team communications?
- Each team member may play several roles in a team and participate in several projects simultaneously
- System should be able to prompt important and urgent tasks
- All types of communications should be presented in same way: tasks, cases and command flows; structured data and documents; unstructured discussions
- Areas that should be easily accessible and manageable:
- Project management
- Team communication and contact management: CRM and HR processes
- Enterprise processes management
- System should be able to keep pace with innovations in team communicative patterns
Our company tried several systems to help us manage the abovementioned requirements. As the proper solution was not found, we decided to write small program for ourselves. But it came out pretty powerful. This is a system that supports management and communication inside and outside company we named Comindwork, Collaborative Mind Work. What are the ideas in the basis of the system:
- Rich Visualization of data for faster mind-perception, understanding and attention to accept the knowledge work with huge amounts of data and information
- Customizable for organizational needs (data, business processes) and personal customization (personally convenient UIs fit for own habits)
- Complete versioning and Wiki-based content
- Usable, immediate response, friendly and helpful
- Management is communication. We help people communicate and do not spread bureaucracy
- Simplicity is critical
What’s the functionality of Comindwork? It combines such functions of team collaboration and management as:
- Tasks, cases and execution control
- Reports and aggregated data for managers
- Managing project plans and requirements
and support for global inter-level communications inside the team:
- Corporate Wiki
- Centralized versioned documents storage
- Corporate and project blogs.
Our vision is software-on-demand that ideally fits knowledge-intensive organizations or departments that actively produce intangible products. We hope someday we will link together thousands knowledge professionals to solve tasks of terrific complexity and of ultimate importance, in form of friendly companies and independent professionals. Probable businesses that benefit from Comindwork are:
- IT, outsourcing and software engineering
- Consulting services
- Marketing and advertising agencies
- Research & Development groups