Choosing the right tools to effectively collaborate and work in close partnership – a public sector example.


In the first post in this series we showed you how to map stakeholders according to their levels of interest and influence, and then select the most appropriate digital tools to engage with them (see matrices below). To illustrate, we used the example of a local authority wishing to introduce High Street pedestrianisation plans — and then followed up with two posts that showed you how it might use digital channels to keep them informed, simply and cheaply, and consult while showing consideration for their views. In this post we will be looking at how to collaborate with high interest/high influence stakeholders and work closely in partnership.

Collaborating with stakeholders – closely in partnership

Digital channels really come into their own when it comes to the most labour intensive aspect of stakeholder engagement — collaboration.

Traditionally, much collaboration work with internal and external stakeholders would be done using face-to-face meetings, supported by admin time to co-ordinate meetings, share and co-author documentation, assign tasks, track progress and more.

Digital channels take the pain out of much of this work, making collaboration instant and not location specific. Participants find they can work together wherever they have access to an internet enabled device.

For example, to develop closer and more effective working relationships with key stakeholder groups, the council can use a variety of online tools to actively engage and assist project team members and the key partners responsible for shaping the final pedestrianisation policy — and for implementing the plans. Cloud-based project collaboration applications not only eliminate the need for many face-to-face meetings, but they help you cut down on phone calls and dispense with uncontrolled emails, allowing the project to proceed much more rapidly.

Beneficial features provided by cloud-based collaboration applications include:

  • Secure file-sharing workspaces. A secure repository of project files with variable access privileges ensures team members can access only the information that’s relevant to their area of responsibility. 
  • Team management & task assignment. The local authority can use online project management tools to manage cross-organisational teams and monitor tasks and completion dates. It also allows the council to collaborate more effectively with internal colleagues, transportation officers, contractors, town planning consultants and others. 
  • Shared team diaries. A shared diary helps keep internal and external stakeholders’ work on track and co-ordinate activity and conference calls. 
  • Wikis. These collaborative resources allow stakeholders to share and brainstorm ideas, best practice and lessons learned. 
  • Document co-authoring. By allowing people from different organisations to work on a single copy of an online document, such as a design specification or supplier contract, complex paper trails and conflicting document versions are eliminated.
  • Risk Registers. These allow the project management and team members to record, rate and correlate each risk against likelihood, enabling them to highlight and manage the threat posed. 

Digital channels bring great power to collaboration with stakeholders, and for a minimal cost. Savvy public sector organisations choose cloud collaboration software that offers all the tools and features mentioned above, plus many others. We’ll be looking at this in more detail in a future post.

The major benefit of using digital channels to collaborate is that it makes work simpler and faster. Instead of trying to get busy professionals around the same table — a job that’s akin to herding cats — stakeholders can get online to collaborate when it suits them best, giving pace and spontaneity to their work.  

In our next post, we’ll look at how to use digital channels to keep high influence/low interest stakeholders satisfied and engaged. If you’d like to know how to do that now, please download our free guide Transforming Public Sector Stakeholder Engagement: Effective Digital Channels and Strategies.

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