Collaboration tools: beyond files, shared drives and emails.

Hands up if you work in a large project team. Keep your hand up if your information is stored in files and folders somewhere. If you can, hand-on-heart, say that over the course of any project you can find each crucial piece of the puzzle first-time, every-time, you can put your hand down and close this page. If not, keep reading for a new and better solution.
 
Collaboration tools that help teams work effectively are more important than ever. They improve efficiency; saving businesses time and money by connecting people with information, streamlining processes and reducing downtime.
 
team collaborating around a tableMany teams use nothing but a series of files and folders, shared drives, and emails to collaborate. For very small projects, this can be effective. One or two documents, shared between a handful of people is easily managed, and can actually speed up work. When applied to a large or fast moving project with lots of information and people coming and going, it becomes unwieldy and impractical.
 

What makes files/folders and shared drives inefficient?

Software that uses a file/folder hierarchy works in the same way as a traditional filing cabinet. You choose which drawer and folder a document will live in, then you name it, and "file it away". The problem with this, especially when there are large teams, or projects with lots and lots of documents involved, is that someone has to decide where each file lives, and it can only live in one place at a time.  Let's take the budget spreadsheet as an example. Where it ends up probably depends on who created it originally. It could be under finance. Or maybe it's under key documents? Or it could be that someone stored it somewhere completely different, in a place that made sense to them at the time. Will that location also make sense to others trying to find it?
 
In a perfect world, every new project would be set up with a smart folder system. A set of rules that people actually followed, governing how and where information is stored.  Unfortunately, most of us don't live in that perfect world. So what happens when you are working on a project and your colleagues are based in various locations; across cities, countries and timezones? Where multiple versions of every document are created, and stored in just as many places. How can you be sure you're looking at the current version? Do you have time to wait and find out? If not, and the document you're working from isn't the latest, how much time and money will be spent re-working as a result?
 
Capturing ideas, knowledge and information and storing them in a way that can be accessed, on-demand is difficult when using a file/folder system. When you have to find something in a hurry, opening and closing 50 different documents, or trying to identify who stored it and where,  is not only frustrating and unproductive, but can have unintended effects on the project if you can't find it in time.
 
Without knowing the "code" that was used to store information, IP can't be retrieved or accessed easily and effectively becomes unusable. As a result, teams create their own workarounds, finding alternative places to store information, often on personal desktops / emails / internal communications channels. For an organisation where IP is currency, this type of dispersed knowledge store is a liability. 
 

What about email and internal messaging apps?

Email and internal messaging apps can be an effective way of collaborating when used purposefully.  But honestly, internal emails are the pits. If you've ever been on the receiving end of an email chain, or had to search for a single email about that "thing" in a cluttered inbox, you'll know how frustrating and inefficient it can be. For projects with team members dropping in and out, or where newcomers join over time; weeding through long email threads to find background information is tedious. What's more, you take the risk of critical information being overlooked.  
 

The future is Lumi

A Lumi board enabling collaboration

Complex projects often grow organically. Pieces of the puzzle are developed and placed as they are completed and this rarely happens in a linear way.

 

A high-pressure team trying to ideate, execute and deliver a project is unlikely to think or care about folder structure - until they can’t find something - usually at a critical time.

 
 
Lumi is a new breed of technology that makes these problems a thing of the past.
 

Not just an improvement on the technology that you are currently using, but a completely new way of organising data, Lumi enables project teams to work together creatively and effectively - even when spread across multiple locations and/or timezones. Teams that will see the greatest benefits of Lumi are those where individual specialists need to collaborate to deliver projects, and where they are dependent on others completing pieces of work before they can do their own.

  

How is Lumi different?

A Lumi card being edited in real time

Lumi starts with individual Cards. Think of them like building blocks. They can be moved, updated, linked and arranged in many different ways.

 

Because of this completely new approach, data is structured very differently to traditional collaboration tools.

 

The benefits to you, the user are: 

  • Every word, in every card (building block) is searchable. No more opening 50 individual files to find the one with the information you’re looking for.
  • Trying to work out which version is the latest is a thing of the past.  Information is updated in real-time and can be displayed in a format that suits the task you're doing.
  • Creativity flourishes. All ideas can be captured and retrieved on demand. Whenever, wherever.
  • IP is not only secure in a single place but is also now useable. Ideas and information, whether recent or historic, are easily retrieved and you no longer have to relying on someone remembering the "key".
  • Productivity is not slowed down by what one person calls something. It no longer matters, you will always be able to find the information you need because of the content it contains.
  • You only need one platform for the whole project. Lumi takes your project from ideation through development, execution and delivery. Planning, workflow and project management tools all build from the same data and and are accessed in the same application.
  • The team dashboard is completely configurable and becomes your project’s control room. Everything updates automatically so your team is always looking at the latest version or most recent update.
  • Switch seamlessly between macro and micro depending on what you’re doing. Executive level overviews and detailed information all come from the same data.
  • No expensive integrations required.
  • No additional infrastructure or IT support.
  • Your team can work from anywhere and have access to all the same information they would have if they were in the office.
If you're still not completely convinced and are thinking, my team is busy and they don't have time to learn a new system. Why should I bother? The answer is simple.

 

The more effectively your team collaborates, the less downtime there is, and the more productive they can be. Every hour you save - not waiting for someone to send a document, searching for information, switching between software applications, sitting in meetings, travelling between locations - is money in the bank. The question you should really be asking is can I afford not to?