Wikipedia Links: Collaboration, content management, work flow control, collaboration system
Video on Collaboration:
Collaboration is when two or more people work together to achieve a goal (Kroenke, 32). Collaboration requires coordination and communication in addition to feedback and iteration. Team members must coordinate each others schedules and access their strengths and weaknesses to be successful. The effectiveness of collaboration depends on three key factors, communication, content management and workflow control.
The first factor of collaboration, communication may be the most important. Communication has two components, communication skills and the abilities of the members and availability to effective communication systems (Kroenke, 33). It is important that group members give but also are able to take feedback in an effective manner. With the technology that is available to us growing at a rapid pace, we are finding businesses as well as schools turning to the world wide web to collaborate on projects, each group member must have the reliable tools to participate. More groups are using asynchronous communication rather that synchronous communication due to its convenience. Synchronous communication is when groups work together at the same time and location, where as asynchronous communication occurs when group members work on a project at a time that is most convenient for them.
The second factor of collaboration is content management. Content management occurs when group members edit and contribute to a project. Some content management systems are able to track and report when, why and what changes occur (Kroenke, 33). Members of a team may also have different privileges regarding how they can change the working project. Roles are usually assigned to team members in content management, these roles include editor, publisher, administrator, and of course the creator. The creator creates the project, this may be coming up with the main objective or gathering materials needed for the project. The editor is responsible for making necessary changes to the project so all content is in sync. Finally, the publisher is responsible for getting the project to the "boss". (Wikipedia, Content Management, 2011). There are three different types of content management, shared content with no control, shared content with version management, and shared content with version control. An example of shared content with no control is email, team members may choose to include whatever they want and may send the email at any time with no limitations. Shared content with version management tracks changes made to a project, some examples include wikis and google docs. Shared content with version control limits what can be done with the project. Users must have permission to make any or specific changes. An example of shared content with version control is Microsoft SharePoint (Kronke, 44).
The last factor of collaboration is workflow control. Workflow is the process of creating, editing, using and disposing of content (Kroeke, 45). Workflow may include a sequence of steps needed to complete the project (Wikipedia, Workflow, 2011). There are two types of workflows, sequential and parallel workflows. A sequential workflow occurs when one activity or step must be completed before the next step is started. In a parallel workflow, everyone is able to work on the project at the same time. The type of workflow the group chooses to use depends on the needs of the project.
The five components of a collaboration system are hardware, software, data, procedures, and people. Client hardware are the devices group members use to communicate with one another, ie each members cell phone. Server hardware are the computers that contain the programs the group needs. Software refers to the programs the group needs to use to complete its projects, for example, Google Docs and wikis. Data refers to the information the group needs to use to work on its project, this usually includes documents and reports (Kroenke, 33). Procedures refers to how and when the group will complete its work. Finally, people refers to each person of the group and their ability to communicate and work with others effectively.
Collaboration systems are used for problem solving, project management, and decision making. Groups are able to problem solve by communicating with one another and using the data they have to come up with a solution. Collaboration systems are used for project management to organize their data in order to complete their project in a timely and effective way. Collaboration systems are also used for operational, managerial and strategic decision making. Operational decisions are those necessary for the business to run everyday successfully. Managerial decisions refer to utilization of the resources the business has available to them. Strategic decisions consider long term investments and issues (Kroenke, 50).
Although the use of hardware and software are very vital to the success of completing a project, the members of a group may be the most important component to a collaboration system. Every group member may have different work ethics, attitudes, and organization skills. It is important for the group to consider all these factors when organizing the layout of the project.
"Content Management." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 10 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_management>.
Kroenke, David. Using MIS. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2011. Print.
"Workflow." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 10 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workflow>.
"Workflow diagram". CDC. web. 10 Dec 2011.< http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr/informatics/aerro2/images/workflow_diagram_legend.gif>.