Collaboration "In Context"

By Rich Blank posted 02-10-2011 12:46


 I rarely if ever have used this forum to rant but let's face it....collaboration continues to happen via email.  And one of my pet peeves with SharePoint is that it lacks what I call  "collaboration in context".  In other words, there's no linkage or capture of the conversations or activities within an associated item in a list.   For example, you create a SharePoint list to track issues or tasks and the real conversation happens outside of SharePoint providing no little or no context about the current state of that list item or how the issue was resolved. 

Why is this a problem?   Email makes it incredibly difficult for anyone at any level to put some context around specific tasks, take the appropriate actions, and ensure some coordinated effort exists towards whatever objective or deliverable the team is trying to achieve.  Creating a task list or an issue list is a no-brainer in any collaborative tool or Microsoft Word or Excel.  However, in most cases, the real conversation happens independent of that list -- i.e. synchronously within email or conference calls or face to face meetings.  As a result, much of the live discussions about the issue go unrecorded which creates more email threads and more confusion and more face to face meetings.  While a strong experienced Project Management Lead can help the overall coordination of effort, the fact is that many of us are project managers by accident.  Even experienced PMs are on information overload most of the time.

This is where SharePoint really falls short -- in capturing the social conversation.   Now I'm not talking about adding Newsgator functionality to solve this problem.   I would simply like to view a SharePoint list item and see all the related discussions right in context of that item!    (For those former users of eRoom, you know what I'm talking about).  Furthermore, I'd like to see all the conversation threads about an issue summarized in my news feed.  Also, wouldn't it be nice if I was alerted to a change of a list item via email and I could reply directly in that email on my Blackberry so that the conversation thread was immediately recorded within the context of that SharePoint list (all without having to access SharePoint via a browser)?

While Microsoft offers an integrated ecosystem, they lack this collaboration in context and it's time someone addresses this major shortcoming of the platform.   The formula is simple:  lists + items + people + conversations.   (Or if you're a Project Manager like me it's Projects + Tasks + People + Discussions).   I want to see it all in a nice neat contextual view so I no longer have to waste hours of my day managing my email Inbox.  

#SharePoint #sharepoint #Collaboration #E-mail #eroom