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Pillars of Collaboration

Pillars of Collaboration

Ruchi Jain
By Ruchi Jain
December 9, 2014

As part of my pre sales role in leading data harmonization and management practice, I happen to frequently talk to top 500 fortune organizations. Even though the conversations would typically be initiated by business teams and projects sponsored by CMO, it’s no more a surprise to see the role their IT organization would like to play. Today for every project, IT would like to:

  • Have visibility to it
  • Know each and every business rules applied
  • Leverage their processes to avoid any duplication
  • Demand transparent systems
  • Be a key stakeholder in decision making

I believe that the success of any multi partner/stakeholder program is driven by its strong communication framework. One needs to create a transparent ecosystem to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing. The underlying principles are:

  • Connect:
    • All partners should have representation in each and every meeting and discussion. Visibility is important and at the same time killing assumptions. We need to be crystal clear about what, why, how, where and when of things.
  • Collaborate:
    • Create integrated business process flow diagrams together with client business, IT and the external partners. This helps in clearly understanding each process, dependencies and bottlenecks. This also fosters improvement and lean processes.
    • Create integrated project plans – with clear demarcation between tasks and interdependencies for client business, IT and service provider respectively.
    • During the course of program, create and maintain impact playbook for each step.
  • Innovate:
    • Continuously look at both hard and soft processes. Build a feedback loop into the system to improve existing processes and system performance.
    • Small changes in processes and management methodology like agile management, stand up meetings deliver great value. Be open to CHANGE.

How one makes the entire system transparent and tangible. We all are aware of the typical artifacts that get created for an engagement/project/program. Since collaboration is a process, it needs to be integrated with the above. For example, how one ensures all stakeholders are well informed and up to date on latest information – answer is simple, through regular communication – some of the levers are meetings, knowledge banks, workshops and newsletters. One needs to decide the artifacts that need to be created and maintained to institutionalize collaboration.

There is a myth that collaboration happens only at the early stages of the engagement. For the success, one would need to collaborate not just once but during all the phases of the engagement.

For example, for one of the large scale programs we were running for our client, we designed and implemented the collaboration framework shown below.

collaboration_blog_image

We religiously practiced it and institutionalized it across client business and IT teams. Once we were able to successfully build and design solution for them, we didn’t stop. We were very clear that we have just achieved initial milestone and we are to hit challenges and hurdles of scale phase. Very often teams lax down during this face. But we knew that we have to rather speed up exponentially and be more focused about quality and timeliness of our delivery and services.

Hence we followed agile project management methodology. Also to keep things on track, we met face-to-face all key stakeholders every 10-12 weeks. The agenda was simple:

  • Ensure alignment with client expectations and assumptions
  • Track the project status
  • Mutually re-integrate time lines, roles and project roadmap
  • Mitigate future failures and build contingency plans
  • Walkthrough what has changed since we met last
  • What are the overlaps and what can be made lean
  • Boost everyone towards next milestone and delivery

For success of any multi stakeholder large scale programs, key is COLLABORATION!

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