Collaborative Work: Talk Less, Accomplish More


Collaboration is not so much about talking. It’s about working, getting things done, the right things, at the right times, by the right people, with visibility along the way. This isn’t theoretical, but is born of very common real-world problems.

For example, consider a medium-size firm implementing Web site changes. The market for this firm’s product is morphing very rapidly, so updating the Web site is a critical business activity. Unfortunately, it involves many different people, often in different time zones, all of whom are stretched thinly: copy writer, search engine specialist, market strategist, product expert, Web developer, systems administrator, and graphic designer. It’s a varied team, to be sure. And if they don’t work quickly and effectively, by the time they implement a suggested improvement, the market may have changed again. However, with the right automated workflow, the repeatable (and oft-repeated) process would follow a pre-determined path, like this:

  1. At Start, an improvement is proposed and then either sent for execution, analysis or deferral
  2. From the Implementation step, tasks for planning, acceptance or content preparation are generated
  3. At the appropriate next-step, testing takes place
  4. Finally, the change is published and goes to End.

The workflow itself shows what status each piece is in on a real-time basis. The flow may look deceptively simple but it is actually accomplishing quite a bit (and can be changed on-the-fly). Each task is promoted to the next step, as appropriate, and the next-step task is automatically generated based on design. This has freed up each team member to focus on individual portions of work, and also provided ongoing status checks of where in the process a given change resides.

Have you ever thought about your organization’s workflow processes? Drawn them out? Did they match what actually happens day-to-day? The workflow must focus on overall organization goals, not strictly on making users more “productive. ” It is important to take time to think through what is most important and what the overall process is, not a natural endeavor for many people. It helps to be quite detailed here, encouraging carefully thought-out roadmaps and rigorous consideration of existing processes and whether these are effective.

Thinking about workflow process may be difficult and may involve several stakeholders to get the complete workflow picture. But, once you know what your workflow should be, designing it can be accomplished in a few minutes.

About the Author

Kamille Nixon researches how organizations use graph and relational databases to solve common work problems. A former newspaper reporter, she focuses on how technology solutions free up human capacity to reach organizational goals. One of her articles was named No. 5 of Information Management’s Top 10 Stories of 2011.

About Comindware

Comindware is a pioneer in collaborative work management software for teams across the enterprise. Its mission: to help people work together more effectively. Unlike competing products based on relational databases, Comindware is based on a far more flexible data management foundation called ElasticData‚Ñ¢. A privately-held firm, Comindware is headquartered in Silicon Valley and Moscow and can be found at

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