Who owns collaboration?

Everyone’s talking about collaboration within the enterprise and excited about using social media tools on intranets … but who owns the business requirements for collaboration within the enterprise?

One of the serious dangers of introducing social media tools onto your intranet is that, because they are ‘free’ and simple to deploy, techies start deploying them left, right and centre. Before you know it, the hard-fought battle for business-led technology deployment is reversed to the bad-old-days of technologies popping up all over the place looking for a business problem. And, if it isn’t clear who owns the business requirements for collaboration, the danger is even greater as techies start enthusiastically deploying tools to fill the void and meet local needs, rather than concentrating on common capabilities that solve enterprise wide business problems. These under-web tools will also ignore governance, information management, design etc policies and standards.

So, my top-tip for the day is decide who owns the business requirements for collaboration sooner rather than later if you don’t want to spend months unravelling the technical mess that will ensue if you don’t!



  1. Collaboration should be governed and owned by governance risk and compliance group in any organization. but in practical it never happens

  2. … and the risk is… back to bureaucracy.
    Who’s going to sign off my requirement?

    Who’s going to ask for an *ink* signature on a piece of *paper*, before a feasability study?

    As we move towards deperimeterisation (is that even a word?) folk will start to use Web2.0 tools willy-nilly.

    “Oh, yeah, Google’s fine. We’ll just chuck up a google site with access control.” or “Let’s just do it in Basecamp”. or “Hey, just stick it up on TiddlySpot”

    How do you find the owner for business requirement for collaboration? Well, the Professional Communities have a pretty high interest in it. How much do we believe in them?

  3. Perhaps a cross section of people should own the business requirements representing all key areas…knowledge, IT, HR, communications etc plus the operations guys.

    If ‘democratic web’ is an accurate description then these representatives will make sure that any requests are considered in light of the cross section of interests.

    The tools are only considered in light of business problems so using them is always the sensible choice for the organisation as a whole.

    A social media board, or cabinet?

    I suppose what I’m getting to is if social media is giving control to the people, then perhaps the way the tools are deployed should be controlled by the people too.

  4. RSP – I’m not sure that hard-core ‘policy’ people in an organisation would really understand business requirements … they manage the risk associated with those requirements.

    Steve – agree that the last thing anyone needs is ‘back to bureaucracy’ … but in an enterprise setting you need to manage common capabilities through some kind of funnelling process to avoid duplication and a fragmented user experience!

    Peter – my heart is with you … but the intranet and internet are not the same – in my experience … on an intranet, consultation is good, true web 2.0-style democratisation leads to choas!

  5. Ownership of corporate apps has been on my mind for a while now, collaboration is just the thin end of the wedge. Any process / app that crosses LOB bounderies has similar ownership issues, (Search etc)

    Re bureaucracy,
    There ia a fine line between “bureaucracy” and “management”
    I spent 3 years (2003-2006) mopping up stealth intranet servers and applications. This stealth intranet grew mainly because it was difficult and costly to get an official web space,

    We are now (well almost) in a situation where web space is cheap and easy (inside the business), which will hopeful make it unnessasary to deploy stealth intranet apps.

    Personaly I am pushing for an audit model rather than an approval model, where a web site is setup in a few minutes, after line manager sign agreement, and once a week, any new sites are checked at a senior / group level.

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