First of all, it’s nothing new. It was a cornerstone of CompassAir software when we first started. It’s used by our shipping and shipbroking clients, ranging from recognised world leaders through to the smallest, most dynamic independent companies, in all the major maritime centres throughout Europe, the US and Asia. In this article we look at a few of the reasons why organisations choose this type of software solution.
What is it? Collaborative software is the key to unlocking productivity and efficiency. It enables the sharing, processing and management of data, documents and files between team members. Put simply, it makes communication transparent, allowing teams to work together on joint projects and share resources. Group email (group mail) is simply where a group of people have their own email address, and whenever an email is sent to that address everyone in the group has access to that email. A group mailbox (shared mailbox) is the inbox accessed and managed by the group.
So WHY change?
1 Collaboration software saves time
First and foremost, specialised team email collaboration software will save you valuable time, time you can spend on more productive activities.
Collaboration is ultimately about value creation.
According to McKinsey Global Institute analysis the average high-skill knowledge worker, including managers and professionals,
“…spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.”
28% of a workweek could mean around 650 hours a year. Time yourself, recording each time you access your inbox, sort, read, find files, process, reply and afterwards watch out for a response.
McKinsey concluded that using the appropriate tools that improve communication and collaboration could raise the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25%.
What this means is that by using faster, more efficient, more effective collaboration tools, significant value can be realised. The right software allows you almost instant access to the files and information you need. If you regularly receive hundreds, or for some, thousands of emails a day, you will be amazed at how much of your time is freed up by using more appropriate software. Especially, if you are currently using generic software such as Outlook, you may find interesting our article on the benefits arising when switching to industry specific software.
2 Working alone or as a team?
Generic email software, such as Outlook or Gmail, is simply a way of managing messages. Many incorporate valuable tools such as calendars, tasks, rules, archiving, flags and reminders. However, when it comes down to it, you are on your own. How well you deal with those hundreds or, in the case of many companies, thousands of emails a day depends on how sophisticated a user you are, often how well you have adjusted and taught yourself to use software that was designed to be a jack of all trades.
Team email collaboration software tackles this problem, head on. Not only is it likely to have been designed for your particular sector, in the case of CompassAir that’s maritime, most importantly it also allows your fellow team members to work with you, improving productivity across the organisation and, most importantly, adding value.
Managing huge numbers of emails a day using separate mailboxes is painful. You don’t know who has read an email, who has acted on it – you are completely in the dark unless you spend time asking colleagues these questions.
Using collaborative email software means messages, files and information are made available to anyone who has been given permission to use them. Every email sent to a shared mailbox is visible to all team members who have been granted access. Sharing an inbox allows everyone in the team to see what is going on, which team members have created, sent, replied emails and who they are from. Work flows more efficiently as teams work within the same system and poor collaboration and poor communication can be made a thing of the past, allowing colleagues to work together with clear priorities. Instead of being locked in an individual’s email account, data, files and correspondence can be seen by everyone with permitted access, even after someone has left the company.
Collaboration, or the lack of it, is one of today’s biggest challenges for organisations. It is not a challenge that can be overcome merely by copying colleagues with messages. Working as team, involving only those individuals or departments who have an interest in a particular task and then monitoring who has done what will lead the way to value creation.
By investing a little time in setting up and getting organised at the start will pay dividends later. You can use departmental mailboxes, automate what happens to an email on receipt, file emails in conveniently labelled folders according to pre-defined rules, using for example keywords, and generally see through the fog of emails.
Sharing is at the heart of collaboration. Getting the structure right, at the outset, will save time later on. A software provider’s industry experience combined with a client’s specific requirements means a team can take immediate advantage of features such as shared filing trees and folders for easy access to information; pre-defined tags, to improve consistency; company, departmental and private address books; and workflow status flags, i.e. to see instantly who has processed emails. A shared pending folder means team members can review messages before they are sent, which allows emails to be stopped or edited where appropriate before it is too late. In the maritime sector shared resources might include vessel databases and documentation, details of a vessel’s current location as well as information about pending and completed fixtures – information readily available to the team to help make it work more efficiently.
In summary, being better organised means response times can be lowered; with automation this means messages are sent straight to the appropriate department or individual; and integration with other apps will again help save that most valuable commodity: time.
Take the next step and have a look at team email collaboration software, especially where it has been designed with the needs of your particular sector in mind. It will allow you and your colleagues to work together more effectively, be more productive and add significant value to your business.