In the age of SCRUM, Agile and DevOps, developers collaborate with their peers and colleagues more than ever before. Many developers already use a variety of collaboration tools on a daily basis, such as a team messaging application, an online discussion forum, or an open code repository.
But while developers love to collaborate, it can be easy for them to forget that not everyone collaborates the same way. By focusing solely on collaboration products and solutions that work well for their development teams, developers are missing the opportunity to provide tailor-made collaboration capabilities to the applications they’re building, or to their entire company or organization. When it comes to developing collaboration capabilities for their organization, developers often fall short of business expectations, as their own personal needs differ from their constituents.
Here are three recommendations on how to tailor a collaboration solution that will fit well for an entire organization:
Beware of the “One Size Fits All” Approach
Today’s array of collaboration tools is more sophisticated than many developers realize. In fact, incorrect assumptions about which platforms are “best of breed” result in rolling out collaboration technology that may have technical but not business, appeal. As many developers hold the keys to the platforms that are eventually put into practice within their organization, this leaves executives at the hands of those who often see collaboration platforms as group chat spaces and wikis for sharing code.
However, other lines of business don’t only collaborate with chats or wikis. A business with thousands of employees located around the world cannot only use general correspondence streams to acquire the information they need to successfully do their jobs. It is unrealistic to expect that messaging platforms alone can support groups of people across departments who do not necessarily understand one another. For instance, IT and Marketing departments’ daily operations are far from the same—so then why would a “one size fits all” approach for workplace teamwork be successful?
Developers must look beyond topline technologies and examine a full range of collaboration solutions that can also provide centralized repositories for information, customized landing pages and unified communication capabilities.
Identify and Understand Communication Gaps in Business Processes
As departments differ, mindsets across organizations vary as well. The developer creating the back end of the platform operates in a unique workflow and framework from those utilizing the platform. It is, therefore, critical to demonstrate a clear integration between different levels of the organization to create a unified understanding of how people work.
Individuals who rely on each other to accomplish tasks need to interact in a variety of ways, including through a centrally located platform to converse on ideas and join forces on project development. To create useful online spaces, developers should attend meetings with other teams to truly understand their needs. By doing so, they will gain perspective on how their peers operate in the workplace, and develop a platform that is increasingly applicable and effective.
Build a Plan for Scale and Growth
By better understanding business needs, developers can predict the appropriate scaling requirements for their collaboration solution. Scaling a collaboration solution may involve setting up workspaces and areas for mass access to thousands or tens of thousands of people, but many of the leading tools cannot scale past several thousand users. For global businesses with multiple constituents and varying workflows, messaging-based approaches may not suffice on their own, as they are not scalable methods to distribute content to a high volume of people.
Ultimately, enterprise collaboration work patterns are shifting toward more speed, and developers are at the heart of the transition. However, being overly reliant on the technical appeal of specific collaboration tools will not lead to the best outcomes for the business. Developers need to design and build collaboration solutions that not only assist their colleagues to communicate, but also help drive collaboration that impacts business outcomes at scale. By understanding the nature of the way an organization needs to collaborate, developers can provide solutions that directly contribute to increased revenue, empowering them as strategic partners in organizational change.
About the Author / Stephen Hamrick
Stephen Hamrick is VP Product Management, Collaboration Software at SAP. Based in Palo Alto, California, Steve leads the product management, user experience, and documentation teams for enterprise social software products at SAP. He has spent the last 20 years of his career in the enterprise software technology industry, focused primarily on collaboration and social software. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.