W.W. Grainger, Inc.
Author: Peter Thomson
Most of us agree. We need constructive collaboration in the business community as it relates to the contracting process for business-to-business (B2B) transactions. But research shows the enterprise collaboration process generally, is not going well. Why? What can be done?
By Peter Thomson, COO of ContractRoom.com
Can we transform from a highly manual and fragmented approach to deal-making? Can technology and automation improve the overall process?
Research shows that many businesses don't understand what collaboration technology means. They don't know how to incorporate it into business processes to improve efficiencies and overall employee productivity. And, it has become apparent that management's idea of collaboration is what they've experienced with the consumer-based social media tools. But there's much more to enterprise collaboration and its ability to impact a corporation's bottom line.
Enterprise collaboration can be a significant development for the business community and commerce worldwide. But first we must understand what it is and how it differs from social collaboration. The goal is to implement an end-to-end, data-based approach that is fast, seamless and profitable.
This article expands upon three ways we need to change the way we think:
Unless organizations embrace these objectives, they will constantly face manual pitfalls that lower productivity, decrease profits, lose sales, and hinder social commerce. We need a more data-driven, collaborative environment based more on capturing and managing data real-time through parallel processing as opposed to pushing paper around in sequential process.
What happens when you don't collaborate with a data-based approach to contracting? Companies are forced into the following inefficiencies:
Enterprise collaboration is not the same as social collaboration
Although technology can enable far greater collaborative participation, it can generate problems if it involves too many or too few people and the wrong people.
According to a recent study by Avanade , 77% of responders said their organization was using some form of a social collaboration tool. Of these, 82% said they would like to use these tools more often in the future1. However, many of these companies are simply referring to social networks instead of true enterprise collaboration technology solutions.
LET'S GET SMART!
Software solutions and rapidly advancing technology has changed the way people work with each other, their partners and their customers. Now, we have dozens of ways to motivate, collaborate, and negotiate without being in the same place at the same time. We just have to learn how to implement and use the software properly.
What spawns successful collaboration?
Carol Lukas and Rebecca Andrews of the Fieldstone Alliance describe four real keys to success in collaboration.
Invest in B2B Collaboration
Time savings is the major benefit of B2B collaboration. In an article published in Midsize Insider, Kevin Permenter describes how many mid-market companies are becoming successful through the use of B2B collaboration technology. B2B collaboration is by far one of the most difficult practices to implement but this investment can be well worth the effort.
A study by the Aberdeen Group showed that firms collaborating with suppliers are resolving issues an average of three days faster than those who do not implement collaboration techniques.4 Time savings alone amount to thousands of dollars for small businesses, hundreds of thousands for the mid-market organizations and millions of dollars for the Fortune 500 enterprises.
Use data-based technology rather than paper processes
Once we adopt a “data-driven collaboration technology, the entire process becomes significantly more efficient and intelligent. The main challenge is to break the habit of using offline and online systems that support paper processes (email, PDF, phone). A manual, paper-driven B2B process can lead to time lags, data and text inaccuracies, security breaches, and missed savings, to name a few.
The benefit of a cloud-based software platform is that it captures and flows data and communication seamlessly among multiple parties as opposed to the solutions that focus on speeding the movement of paper:
Either embrace change or risk competitive disadvantage
Companies today need to seek out methods to embrace changes in collaboration technology; companies that don't will suffer a competitive disadvantage.
It is a data-driven approach to engaging both internal and external parties in a B2B transaction that allows for the seamless movement of communication and data. Implementing and using it properly will increase productivity and profits. Efficient B2B collaboration will help reconnect the business community, and in turn, lead to a more responsible and productive deal-making process.
1 Most Businesses Lack Fundamental Understanding of Enterprise Social Collaboration Tech
2 Avanade, Global Survey: Is enterprise social collaboration living up to its promise?, May 2013
3 Carol Lukas and Rebecca Andrews, Four Keys to Collaboration Success
4 Kevin Permenter, Better Together! How the Best Mid-Market Companies Collaborate and Prosper
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Thomson is responsible for ContractRoom 's business operations, financial success and administration. In the 1990s, Peter started up and exited two technology companies, the first in software outsourcing and the second in international telecommunications. In 2001, he moved into the financial industry where he worked in private banking, financial planning and M&A. A technologist at heart, in 1987, Peter designed and programmed a legal case management system that is still in use today. Peter earned his BA from Denison University, and MS from Carnegie Mellon University.
ContractRoom is a revolutionary, cloud-based technology that transforms the way businesses collaborate, negotiate, transact, and contract. ContractRoom is the first-to-market, singular software platform that automates and streamlines the entire contracting process. It allows any contract or agreement to be negotiated, closed, signed, stored, and managed with anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in any language. ContractRoom shortens the time to close a deal, reduces transaction waste, improves accuracy and productivity, mitigates risk, and enhances business control.