Today, collaboration means more than sending emails or leaving voice messages for co-workers, putting decisions and projects on hold while you wait for their replies.

Now, tools like audio, video, and web conferences are enabling real-time interactions between employees, partners, suppliers, and even customers. These tools are doing more than reducing travel costs; they’re creating opportunities for more personalized and productive exchanges.

But how do you move your collaboration initiatives forward? These seven steps can help you chart your course, choose the right collaboration solutions and win organizational support.

1. Define the business reasons for change. Identify your organization’s specific drivers for change – from speeding revenue cycles and reducing costs to maintaining customers – and how working in a more collaborative way can make those critical changes happen.

2. Determine the key roles essential to achieving change. What specific roles are involved in accomplishing the desired outcome? Consider external partners and suppliers, engage IT and establish key performance indicators to track progress.

3. Document the business processes performed by each role. Examine the total workflow in each business process and engage business managers and users, because they know it best.

4. Explore how real-time collaboration solutions can make it easier to get work done. Take the business processes you’ve just documented and map them to the tool or tools that can make the tasks easier, faster or less costly for people to do.

5. Develop scenarios to communicate collaboration benefits to stakeholders in a meaningful way. Consider this your internal marketing campaign to answer the end user question: “What’s in it for me?”

6. Test your scenarios with key influencers. This will help you determine their validity before launching a pilot project for specific collaboration tools.

7. Document results and redefine anticipated benefits. Include both measurable and “soft” outcomes to promote your successes, address problems that emerged during testing and revise scenarios based on the results.

For more detailed information on these steps, see the most recent edition of AT&T Unified Communications News, which includes a complimentary report from Gartner, Inc. “A Seven-Step Approach for Defining the Value of Collaborative Interactions.”

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This Gartner Report, "A Seven-Step Approach for Defining the Value of Collaboration," provides a guide for moving your initiatives forward with measurable and meaningful examples of a more connected, collaborative work style. It will also cover how AT&T consultants can help you navigate those steps and choose the right collaboration solutions to deliver the targeted business results you need.