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What's in it for me? Articulating the benefits of social collaboration

By Angela Ashenden posted 01-16-2015 09:59


When you're putting together your business case for social collaboration, your focus must categorically be on how implementing this type of technology - and the enabling the cultural change that must accompany it - will bring benefits to your particular organisation. This is your top line purpose, it's necessary to get funding and executive buy-in, and it's a cornerstone for everything that follows.


However, when it comes to getting everyone at all levels of the organisation to make the required change, to adopt the technology and use it as part of their every day processes and work activities, it's not enough to simply explain the benefits to the organisation; you need to explain what's in it for them. Changing your behaviour is hard, and if you are not entirely clear as to how this change will make life easier or better for you personally in the long term, it can be hard to maintain the enthusiasm to persist with the effort.


So when you are planning your staff familiarisation sessions, or your self-service videos, make sure you put yourselves in the shoes of the people you are trying to reach: how will it help them personally? By all means frame this in the broader picture of how the organisation will benefit, but the more personal you can make the arguments for change, the better. If possible, try to arrange your sessions to focus on one particular team or peer group at a time; this will help you to better personalise the message, and even gives you the opportunity to work interactively with them to find ways that collaboration could help them collectively and individually.


To help explain what I mean here, these are some examples of the different perspectives that you need to consider; of course it's not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will get you started along the right lines.


For the individual employee, a more networked, more collaborative organisation offers:

  • Access to a much bigger pool of expertise to approach for advice, assistance and feedback to help you get your job done more quickly and effectively
  • Greater visibility of what is happening right across the organisation, from strategic-level decisions to projects underway in other parts of the business, bringing the opportunity to contribute, find new opportunities and get recognised for your abilities, skills and experiences


For managers, the benefits additionally include:

  • Your team being able to get work done more quickly and efficiently helps you meet your own targets more effectively
  • The opportunity to leverage skills/experience of individuals in other parts of the organisation, particularly where there are skills shortages in your team
  • A team of staff who feel more empowered and more engaged, leading to less staff turnover, and fewer recruitment headaches


For the organisation as a whole, these are typically the primary benefits or incentives that will drive the organisation to consider improving collaboration:

  • Efficiency - Improving reuse and knowledge sharing to capture and make the most of in-house knowledge and experience, achieving efficiencies from connecting different parts of the organisation more effectively.
  • Innovation - Opportunities to create business differentiation and drive innovation, through new ideas for products and services, or process improvements, for example.
  • Employee engagement - A more productive and engaged workforce leading to lower staff turnover, as well as faster onboarding of staff through better access to information and experts across the organisation.


Have you had experience of implementing cultural change as part of a social collaboration initiative? I'd love to hear your story! You can reach me on Twitter at @aashenden, or via email to angela [at]


Save the date! On May 14th 2014, MWD's "Making Social Collaboration Work" conference is taking place in London. This will be a chance to hear from organisations who have already implemented social collaboration, to share ideas and best practices, and to network with others in the same position.

#socialcollaboration #Adoption #Collaboration #bestpractice