The sad truth is that most organizations fail to realize that the cornerstone to having strong, successful products comes from strong, productive collaboration. While the past decade has helped transform the process of coding new requests into a product – making it more agile – most planning departments still lack this skill. I believe that a lot of this problem stems from the tools that are commonly used in the workplace. Most businesses still take an “old school” approach of relying on task-centric tools to get the job done. However to be successful today’s tough business climate, this has to change.

Most activates require collaboration

Take a second and think about it. How many times a day do you need to collaborate with a co-worker on a project? Today’s job requires that individuals collaborate with each other more frequently than ever before. We’ve talked at length how organizations are now beginning to understand this and are empowering individual employees to collaborate. For something as complex as product planning having empowered collaborators is extremely important for success. Relying on product teams to “collect organize and coordinate product information with spreadsheets, documents and ‘task specific’ software” is not going to get the job done. Businesses that fail to realize that teams tasked with product planning must become more agile, they run the risk of having products that are late to market with features that are out of touch with their customer base.

Collaboration is the Key

In most larger companies today’s product planning requires teams manage a great deal of information from a variety of sources. From the top there is a product owner or a Chief Product Officer that defines and drives a set of objectives that will advance the product in a strategic direction. From the bottom, there are collections of ideas from customers and partners. It’s important to specify and rank these requirements and map them to resources and schedules. Yet this process is not a stagnant one. Customer’s feedback changes, as do strategic demands for the product, and the resources available. However, most teams are still stuck using outdated tools to get the job done. Teams must realize that the “task specific” tools of excel are not only limiting them, but are in fact hurting them. They are creating siloes within the workplace hindering relationship development and collaboration.

Instead teams must realize that to be successful they most focus on relationship building and collaboration. Moving to tools that are more people-centric (like social task management tools, or internal social networks) greatly help this. They foster greater cross-departmental communication without the downside of flooding your inbox with emails. As greater communication occurs, teams begin to work in high performing teams. This allows them to be better situated to quickly react to changes, making for a superior final good.

What are your favorite collaboration tools?