Knowledge may be power, but collaboration is king. if you are more interested in running an open, progressive, productive organization than a fiefdom, read on. 

Not Listening image

There was NO collaboration!

Can you imagine anyone in a leadership position shouting out such a claim without blushing today? Surely not!

This phase sounds like an accusation to me, but I’ve worked in environments where it was closer to a boast. Corporate silos, each overseen by a leader who ran their operation with all the authority of a feudal warlord, sure that the most direct path to the top must be paved with the bodies of their peers. Knowledge was power, and the sharing of information akin to treachery.

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but not my much. As Patrick Lencioni put it in his book Silos, Politics and Turf Wars :

Silos – and the turf wars they enable – devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals.

These days, progressive organisations know that collaboration is king. The sharing of information is critical to the empowerment of individuals, and this in turn promotes productivity and job satisfaction, leading to happier customers and healthier bottom lines. 

There are about as many lists of collaboration benefits as there are books and articles on the subject. Rather than create a new Top 5, here’s the one Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends came up with in her article 5 Benefits of Collaboration in your Small Business, and my paraphrasing of those benefits:

  1. More efficient processes - things flow more smoothly and get done right the first time.
  2. Better communication - overcome fragmented, incomplete or siloed information.
  3. Tapping into employee strengths - working together allows people to focus on activities most suited to their individual abilities and interests.
  4. Access to better workers - more flexibility in terms of geography, working from home etc., broadens the pool of potential staff.
  5. More satisfied customers - workers who are happy, good at what they do and able to work efficiently will translate into better service for your customers.

To quote Anita again, here is what typically happens when you don't have access to collaboration tools, or a culture that supports their effective use:

Instead of important information being readily available to all...it’s buried in individual inboxes. Or one person was told about something, but never shared that with others on the team who need to know.

 

When it comes to collaboration, Orchid is here to help
Orchid Product Icons (Collaboration)

Orchid's Sage 300 add-ons provide numerous benefits, but improved collaboration is usually front and centre.

The following five products (together with Data Views) belong to Orchid's Information Manager suite of productivity and collaboration tools:

  • Notes - Context-sensitive information or procedural instructions presented where and when they are needed. Flexible enough to include images and hyperlinks, and all stored and managed within Sage 300. Say goodbye to monitors plastered with personal reminders, or thumbing through operations manuals.
     
  • Document Management Link - Relevant documents where you can find them, when you need them, linked to just about any Sage 300 field or screen. It can also support staff mobility, while reducing your reliance on paper-based documentation.
     
  • Email SmartLink - Need to draw a colleague's attention to something? Just click an icon to initiate an email from within Sage 300, paste in a hyperlink to the active Sage 300 record, and have the recipient drill directly through to it.
     
  • Report Runner - It's never been easier to share Crystal or Sage 300 Financial Reports. Select them from a role-specific menu, run them using pre-configured parameters, and automatically distribute them by email.
     
  • Optional Tables -  Create custom, multi-dimensional data structures within the Sage 300 database. The included Spreadsheet Add-in supports collaboration. E.g. develop budget models within Excel, distribute spreadsheets for the collaborative collection of budget or forecast data, then centrally update Sage 300 with your budgets at the click of a button.  

While Information Manager is the obvious starting point, the following Orchid products provide further opportunities for improved collaboration:

  • Info-Explorer - Creating and storing business data is one thing, turning it into Business Intelligence is quite another. Info-Explorer allows all staff to share the same data while interrogating, manipulating and interpreting it in ways that support their individual needs. This is far more efficient than creating multiple bespoke reports - and a lot more affordable then BI systems typically used by large organizations.
     
  • Process Scheduler - Why not schedule your key Info-Explorer cubes, or Report Runner reports, to be automatically refreshed and distributed to multiple employees? (And that's in addition to triggering day-ends, integrity checks, backups etc.)
     
  • Extender - when this powerful multi-function product is combined with Notes, a new world of collaboration opportunities opens up. We call it Extended Notes. Notes can no longer just be triggered by specific screens or field values - they can be conditional (only displaying when certain conditions are met), or pull in and process external data to create note content "on the fly" . 
     
  • Return Material Authorizations & Repair Tracking - with flexible workflows and a central repository within your Sage 300 database, all staff can have a common view of how the return or repair is progressing, helping them to keep the customer informed.
     
  • Bin Tracking - you can now track stock across multiple bins within an Inventory Control location, storing this more granular information within Sage 300. The benefits of improved visibility and accuracy of inventory information extend beyond your warehouse, e.g. sales staff can place orders with greater confidence that stock is available, helping them set expectations with their customers.
     
  • Inter Entity Transactions & Inter Entity Trade - teams no longer stop at the office door, and nor should collaboration. These modules don't just help keep the books balanced, they also improve the flow of timely and accurate financial information between related companies or other entities. 

Talk to your Sage Business Partner, or contact us, for more information about how Orchid products can contribute to better collaboration in your business..

About the Author:

David Lacey is Communications Manager at Orchid Systems. You can find out more about David and other Orchid staff members at the bottom of our About Us page.

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