Industry-specific collaboration tools in manufacturing, healthcare, and energy sectors make teamwork easier than ever
The enterprise collaboration market is expected to grow from $34.57 billion in 2018 to $59.86 billion by 2023, affirms MarketsandMarkets. This growth isn’t surprising: 95 percent of companies prioritize investment in collaboration tools, and almost 60 percent keep increasing their spend on collaboration, said Smartsheet in its 2017 State of Enterprise Collaboration.
If you look at the reasons companies turn to enterprises’ collaboration initiatives, you will find many general benefits, such as improved team productivity, decreased email usage, and faster onboarding. However, will these benefits have the same value for a steel manufacturer and a medical center? Or, can a shoe factory and a shoe retailer improve their business results using the same enterprise collaboration approaches? A spoiler: not really. Since companies differ in business processes, services, products, and customers, their collaboration paths won’t and shouldn’t be the same.
Now, let’s take a look at how different industries interpret collaboration and its values. The examples of manufacturing, healthcare, and oil and gas will reveal that unique collaboration goals require unique ways to achieve them.
Manufacturing: Collaboration twisted with production
Manufacturing focuses on the product more than any other industry. All working processes revolve around that pivot. As a result, when collaboration enters a manufacturing enterprise, it gets a number of peculiarities:
- Collaboration workflows should be integrated with the production process.
- Collaboration goes beyond enterprise limits and embraces vendors, suppliers, and customers. As a result, collaboration workflows are lengthy, tangled, and hard to manage.
- Collaboration covers different stages of production and sales, thus involving employees in different positions working in various departments and geographically distributed offices.
Keeping these peculiarities in mind, both manufacturers interested in implementing collaboration and consultants who assist them should focus on the following aspects:
1) Collaboration tools should be integrated tightly with enterprise systems. If a company runs an ERP as their key system, collaboration tools should be either built into this ERP or connected with it through a clear system of links. At the same time, integration shouldn’t bring any confusion and duplication of the collaboration content and the ERP data.
2) Collaboration tools should facilitate associated processes without duplicating other systems. Striving to hit this goal, many enterprises, particularly SMEs, turned their attention to software solutions that allow automating numerous enterprise processes, including document and project management, supply and vendor management, procurement, and accounting. That’s exactly what McCorvey Sheet Metal Works made by implementing Trello. The collaboration suite covered various aspects of the fabrication process while contributing to paperless workflows and better engagement of employees into the innovation process.
3) An enterprise should offer a suitable collaboration kit for all the production parties. From an engineer who works on a production line to a supplier who delivers raw materials to the factory, all employees should have access to the collaboration environment. There is a place both for an enterprise-wide collaboration portal and for team collaboration tools.
Healthcare: Collaboration that saves lives
Another domain that can’t exist without collaboration is healthcare. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) states that medical error is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., while the American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics highlights that teamwork failures are behind up to 80 percent of serious medical errors.
Collaboration in healthcare contributes to the coordinated work of care teams, thus improving the overall quality of the provided healthcare services. All in all, collaboration in healthcare can be characterized as:
- Strongly team-oriented and primarily targeted at health professionals with the same specialization.
- Having a direct impact on the provided healthcare services and targeting public health.
- Innovation-centric as it should engage healthcare specialists into innovative thinking, thus elaborating on brand-new approaches to treating patients.
So, taking into consideration the healthcare specifics, we can say that the healthcare collaboration stack should address the following needs:
1) Dynamic team and cross-team communication for coordinated medical work. The example of Advocate Aurora Health shows how Microsoft Teams can unite numerous medical teams on a single hub for networking. Consequently, positive improvements in teamwork have become the key factors to the reduced readmission rates and increased number of successful treatment outcomes.
2) Organization-wide communication for keeping medical personnel informed about critical care data, making it easier for caregivers to get industry updates and minimize errors caused by knowledge gaps.
3) Knowledge and innovation management for healthcare professionals to share their expertise, spread scientific research, and find solutions to medical puzzles.
Energy: Collaboration fueled by operational efficiency goals
Oil and gas is the domain that shows an increasing interest in collaboration. Deloitte reports that year by year the collaboration index score keeps growing in the oil and gas industry, while the success rate of collaboration engagements also shows an impressive growth (from 27 percent in 2015 up to 43 percent in 2017).
Overall, the collaboration initiatives in the domain are aimed at reducing costs; however, analysts observe a shift towards knowledge management and tighter collaboration of petroleum companies with vendors, which is to optimize utility management and existing supply chains.
In terms of collaboration, oil and gas companies can be attributed with the following characteristics:
- They focus on collaboration activities to improve operational efficiency and reduce lifting costs.
- They adopt collaboration to increase enterprises’ operational safety and visibility.
- They are ready to include both suppliers and vendors into the collaboration process to bind together the entire cycle of oil extraction, processing, and end products sales.
- They use collaboration solutions as the key driver of digital transformation.
As a sector with a specific interest in collaboration, oil and gas companies are frequent adopters of platform-based collaboration solutions, particularly SharePoint intranets. Enterprises often turn to SharePoint developers to tailor their corporate portals and pack them with industry-specific features, such as:
1) Corporate information centers to store and spread process-critical content across all levels of employees, as well as monitor their awareness of industry standards, safety principles, and code of practice.
2) Project management features to formalize and control team activities as well as build a transparent working process, thus getting an opportunity to optimize costs at all stages.
3) Knowledge management capabilities to accumulate best practices and competencies covering different aspects of oil production.
Each industry should adopt a unique collaboration strategy
This quick overview shows that every domain comes with a specific vision of collaboration, as the latter serves them to hit different targets. Getting involved in collaboration activities and implementing collaboration tools, each company should build their collaboration environments in line with industry requirements and relevant business objectives. Pursuing their industry specific goals, organizations have bigger chances to get operational benefits coupled with improved communication flows, knowledge exchange, and team integrity.
Written by: Sandra Lupanova
About the author: Sandra Lupanova is a Technology Observer at Itransition, a custom software development company headquartered in Denver, Colo., and an expert in team and enterprise.