The selection of collaboration tools should be taken on with the understanding and strategy of a continuous evaluation and selection process.  This ensure that your community will utilize tools that support the needs and the nature of the community requirements and objectives.  It is only natural for the requirements of the community to change,especially because of the evolving nature of the community.  A poor tool choice, or hanging on to a tool and not expanding capabilities will become just as much as a drag on the community as lack of particiaption from the community partners.  In fact, the two points are directly related to each other.

Tool capabilities should be viewed as a key contributing factor in the retention of the community partners and the participation of those partners.  Do not fool yourself into thinking that the tools selection is a ‘once and done’ activity and must be treated as a continuous process of evaluation and improvement.  This practice of evaluation and improvement is important for two reasons:

  1. The nature of the environment in which the tools are being used is continuously changing from the perspective of both the collaboration partners changing and the requirements to support the communication.
  2. The nature of the tools environment is continuously changing from the perspective of the tool availability and the tool capabilities.

Your collaboration community support and management practices should include this continuous tool evaluation and improvement as a key practice to keep the community fresh.

The nature of the community along with the participation and retention of the members is a fragile equation and you must not let it fall into complacency or even disrepair.  The collaborative nature of the community requires the support and buy-in of the partners to succeed.  The collaboration tools must support these requirements in a straightforward and flexible manner that supports changing needs of the community and the extension and changing of the partners.  If the methods and manner in which the community communicates and works together is cumbersome and unchanging, the members will get discouraged and simply stop participating.

This continuous evaluation and improvement process of the collaboration tools cannot be left to chance, it does not ‘just happen’ and you can’t simply select any tool and forget about it.  The impact to the success of the community could be disastrous.  This is such a simple requirement and I am sure that each partner in the community is highly interested in the maintenance and improvement of the tools.  The collaboration community attracts curious and adventurous partners by its nature, the community attracts partners that see the potential benefits and are willing the take a chance to gain the benefits.  These members by their nature also will be highly interested in selecting tools to simplify and improve the collaboration capabilities.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?