Category: Resourceful Young Children | Test population-based models of provision | 6 March, 2015 - 17:38← BACK
At Kidzpositive, our intervention team needs to communicate efficiently, share multiple documents and drafts, manage files, and work together. The work of the intervention team involves constant collaboration to develop and produce ideas. We work together to make decisions regarding our programme interventions, to practically implement our initiatives, to complete all related administration, and to give feedback when needed (monitoring and evaluation). This is often a logistical nightmare and can be a tiresome, time-consuming burden for our team members.
However, we have found a solution. We have learnt that using a central online, “cloud-based” content platform can help us organise and collaborate within the intervention team.
The “challange” of working together
Our intervention team consists of 7 individuals, all based at different working sites, all with different work schedules. Despite having monthly face-to-face meetings, trying to communicate and collaborate about the program development and running has proved difficult in the times between these meetings.
The old solution: Initially, we relied on email and phone calls as the primary means to communicate and send documentation. However, following and tracking various email threads became complicated. Information would get lost, or it would take unnecessary time to access it or be repeated. Thus, time was being wasted and our work was disorderly. This was not an efficient, workable solution.
The need for a new solution: We believe that true collaboration knows no barriers and that our team should be able to work easily with each other irrespective of where they are based, or the technology they choose to use. Our team needs to share files and deliver the right information to the right people, all while actually getting stuff done (i.e. implementing our intervention). As such we needed a new communication and team management solution.
A new solution for working together
To help us work better together we investigated the advantages of using an online content collaboration platform. After considering various platforms, we selected one called Huddle* (www.huddle.com), which suited us in terms of needs and pricing. Huddle offers many helpful features that Google docs and Dropbox do not have. Although, this platform is usually a paid for service, as an NGO we were granted free access to their basic package.
Advantages of using an online content collaboration platform
Online content collaboration platform like Huddle contain useful features that help organise your team’s activity feed, calendar and meeting schedules, task delegation and project timelines. They also provide file sharing, version control, and document commenting functionality, as well as white boards and discussion forums.
Improved document sharing and filing: This specific platform allows each team member to have their own profile and to access and upload content, or use other features. We found that it works well as new versions of documents can be uploaded without losing older versions. Being able to live-comment on documents also enables us to have a running commentary alongside the documents where we can share ideas and give feedback without having to comment and change within the document itself.
Improved communication: What has been particularly valuable is that Huddle emails relevant notifications directly to the team individuals, when needed, to inform them about document changes, scheduling, or other important matters related to the project. This avoids the need for each person to go onto our website and continually check for updates. It also avoids the potential of anyone missing being updated on relevant information. The team members can respond via email directly to comments and discussions. Their responses get automatically uploaded onto the platform, making it more convenient when individuals are accessing their normal email. Therefore, instead of sending many emails, an individual uploads content to be discussed under a discussion topic (which gets emailed through to the team). This way, in the long run, it is also easier to track and access initial thoughts and decisions made in the past.
Challenges to this new system
This approach has worked well for our implementation team. However, it has taken some time and encouragement to primarily use this new system. Learning and adapting to a new routine and a new technology takes time. It is easy to slip back to what is comfortable and known – even if it is flawed. So we have, at times, had to remind our team along the way to get into the habit of using this system as opposed to relying solely on email and telephonic messages.
In conclusion, using an online platform, specifically Huddle, has made working together in our team more organised, systematic, and clear. It has provided a practical solution to dealing with the challenges of an evolving, complex intervention with many individuals who are not based at the same site.
*Disclaimer: We are in no way endorsing Huddle for profit or gain, and we have not been approached to review or market their product. We are independently sharing our experience of using this platform, and the views are our own.
The Waverley Business Park, Wycroft Road, Cape Town
021 404 6191
If your organisation team needs to communicate more efficiently from multiple locations, track and manage shared documents better, or improve planning and scheduling to save time then read on, this learning brief is for you. Kidzpositive shares about the value of moving to an online content management platform in order to improve teamwork.