For over a year now, organizations across the globe have undertaken fundamental shifts to bring work online. For remote operations teams working in the field, this shift is all about seamless, real-time collaboration — and not about documentation for its own sake. It’s about getting the right communications and process updates to the right people at the right time and in the right way.
In other words, operations teams require workstream collaboration to improve team coordination, performance, and communications. Workstream collaboration tools are purpose-built to provide the visibility, flexibility, and functionality that operations teams need to minimize bureaucratic procedures and maximize productivity.
For example, if you’re in trucking logistics, you may wish to track total transportation time and truck unloading time to improve operational efficiencies. The last thing you’d want is to require truck drivers to complete extensive debriefs at the end of a long day of driving — requiring them to log onto their computers, manually inputting completion status, adding notes — and it wouldn’t be timely information, anyway. Traditional project management tools aren’t an ideal fit to measure against these operational goals since they don’t offer adaptability in dynamic situations for real-time agility, they don’t have asset tracking capabilities to provide location updates, and they don’t have integrated communication channels built around events and tasks. Workstream collaboration tools are a better solution to provide contextual knowledge and data around real-time status, e.g., how many trucks in your fleet are completing deliveries and whether they’re tracking on time or facing unexpected delays.
Simply put, workstream collaboration applications are built to work the way you work. They’re process-driven, team-focused, integration-friendly, flexible, and configurable.
Simply put, workstream collaboration applications are built to work the way you work. They’re process-driven, team-focused, integration-friendly, flexible, and configurable. Tools like Coolfire Core can even layer on top of your existing systems and extend to third parties. For operational challenges, workstream collaboration tools ensure the best experience from both a process and results perspective for all stakeholders involved.
Ready to improve the way you work? Here are 8 best practices for deploying workstream collaboration tools within your organization.
1. Pick one specific area of focus
Look at your business to find one (yes, just one to start) contributing problem or pain point that you’d like to solve. It’s best to start with one key operational area to improve on–as too much change management at once will grind things to a halt. In the trucking logistics example, you may wish to decrease delivery times. If there are many issues contributing to this, narrow the focus to just one, avoid analysis paralysis, and make it easier to define and measure.
2. Standardize (or at least document) your existing processes
Before you get started with a workstream collaboration tool, you’ll want to streamline your processes. But we wouldn’t be talking if you had a perfectly streamlined process, now would we. The next best is to at least document your existing process (even if it’s not perfect). Before jumping headfirst into a workstream collaboration tool, you’ll want to agree on the process and outline it. Good workstream collaboration tools facilitate your processes, not force you into a new one. They’re not a magic fix for poorly defined processes, but they will help you see gaps and improve over time.
3. Set measurable goals to gauge success
The last step before rolling out a workstream collaboration tool is setting quantifiable goals. Consider setting both business-specific goals as well as product usage goals. To start, identify success criteria for a small roll-out before scaling your workstream collaboration strategy. Showing success early on will help you get executive sponsorship for wider adoption (and your team’s buy-in to use it).
Now that you know where to start and what to measure, you can define a small roll-out plan.
4. Build your roll-out team
Ensure that all players throughout your process are represented in your roll-out team. You can either pull an established field team or build your dream team from scratch. Try to include internal influencers, top performers, and enthusiastic employees who are most likely to give constructive feedback. We recommend assembling your dream team–of about 10 people–as it’s the best route to larger-scale adoption in the future.
5. Create a project plan for your initial roll-out
Set a clear timebox around your initial roll-out so that you have a date to work towards for key project milestones. Without a timebox, your small roll-out will drag on, bloat, and lose luster. Make sure to consider the complexity of the processes you’re focusing on when setting project timelines.
Regularly check in with your roll-out team and other stakeholders, and share progress with all employees to maintain transparency. We recommend setting aside time every week to evaluate how you’re tracking toward your project goals. You can adjust your approach and make improvements along the way.
Now that you have a roll-out plan, it’s time to define your adoption approach.
6. Determine your incentive strategy
Your company culture can dictate your approach. A top-down company culture typically uses an enforcement approach. Failure to use the new software results in negative consequences. Lack of usage results in low-performance assessments or additional work. More open company cultures may adopt an approach that relies on gamification and positive consequences. Healthy competition results in recognition or tangible rewards. Either way, building an incentive culture will help drive adoption and long-term program success.
7. Define your scale strategy
Make sure you’re scaling incrementally and rolling out your project in phases. Don’t tackle too many steps at once. That’s a recipe for failure.
Define goals for each phase of the scaling phase, with clear determinations for what success looks like in each step. Examples of milestones you may set are an 80% adoption goal for when workstream collaboration tools become a habit or receive five unsolicited user engagements on improving the tool. Consider other metrics around how other business lines, your customers, and vendors are being impacted.
Establish training procedures. Every business hopes to keep its top talent, but the reality is that employee turnover results in institutional knowledge loss when they leave. When onboarding new hires, you want to ensure seamless adoption of your internal processes and tools. Documentation of procedures is critical to ensure all users follow a defined process. You’ll also need structured training on the workstream collaboration tool for new users. The best way to ensure knowledge retention of new tools is to encourage openness to learning and continuous improvement in your company culture.
8. Iterate on your approach
Continue leveraging these best practices and any other learnings along the way throughout your roll-out phases. Then, use them to extend your workstream collaboration tool to other lines of business within your organization. As you extend to multiple departments and operational flows, think about how these groups will interact and how interrelated flows impact others.
Adding a workstream collaboration layer to your existing tools and processes can improve team coordination, performance, and communications. Strategic planning before deploying your workstream collaboration tools ensures a higher rate of adoption and the highest level of success.
Learn more about how Coolfire Core organizes fast-moving operations, keeping them connected to the people, processes, and information they need to work together–anytime and anywhere.