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A common pain point of project management is the ability to get people to collaborate when required. In fact, external collaboration can be critical to business success. Even while we recognize the value of people working together, it can be difficult to achieve this on a constant basis. In order to understand how a project manager can succeed in a project through collaboration tools, it is first essential to grasp what factors comprise an outside influence and how to avoid missteps in the planning process.

What is External Collaboration?

Knowledge sharing that occurs outside of an enterprise is what is considered “external collaboration.” One example of effective external collaboration occurs between a brand and their digital presence. Social media is widely considered as a net to catch consumer opinions. This type of external collaboration means taking these opinions on social media, analyzing them and using the message receive to enact change.

Who is External?

A brand can communicate with a variety of people to steer their message. As a marketer, once you have an understanding of “what is external collaboration,” it is time to examine these facets for reaching your goal.

There are a multitude of collaboration tools on the market but they all have the ultimate end game of getting people talking about your brand. Some examples of people whose opinion may matter to your product/service include:

  • Customers
  • Vendors and Suppliers
  • Startups
  • Competitors
  • Venture Capitalists
  • Schools
  • Government
  • Inventors/Patent Holders

External collaboration is about listening to the people that surround your company and adapting to your audience. In order to do so, you must find ways to hear them.

Collaboration Tools

There are quite a few different methods for working with external groups—none of which is the perfect answer on its own. The following are some techniques to garner outside opinions and collect helpful feedback data:

  • 1-1 Partnerships
  • Hackathons
  • Social Media Polls
  • Intermediaries
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Joint ventures and Alliances
  • Corporate Labs and Accelerators
  • Competition and Challenges
  • Platforms and Communities

The idea is that once you find a plentiful source of valuable information, stick with the method. The more a project manager can ascertain from outside opinions and ideas, the better they can align it with their target audience. 

The Total Impact

Communication is the key to an external influence having an effect on the outcome of your product or service. One key aspect of external collaboration is striving to belong to the best ecosystems that impact your industry. It’s keeping an ear to the rails, staying abreast of current trends, giving people what they ask for and then collecting their thoughts.

Sure, the customer is always right, but don’t you want to know why they have the opinion that they do? That is the key to fueling continuous improvement and the smart management of your company message. The total impact of external communication is that you’re simply listening to outsider opinions that matter. Innovation is all about people and you can’t break thresholds by ignoring the very individuals you seek to impress.

Doug Uptmor
Doug Uptmor, Director of Content