COLLABORATIVE WORKING – HOW SME’S CAN BENEFIT
Collaborative working is rising in popularity in the UK, both within businesses and as a way for two or more businesses to pool expertise and resources. The expansion of cloud-based technology, making it easier for colleagues to work on shared projects, is one of many reason for this growth.
Reasons for SMEs to Collaborate
Many SME’s successfully provide specialist services within a narrow field. However, sometimes they may find themselves bidding for a contract where other services are required beyond their area of expertise. In these instances, working with another business can help to offer a complete service to prospective clients and make it easier to compete against larger providers.
There may also be opportunities to collaborate with a similar business to your own in order to fulfil a large contract where you don’t have enough resources yourself.
SME collaborations with universities are another growing field, and these arrangements are being encouraged by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The aims here include promoting innovation and providing SME’s with sources of scientific and technical knowledge.
Another reason for collaborating is as an alternative to outsourcing to a contractor. If you need a specialist to provide some services to your business, you can possibly come to an arrangement where you provide them with your own services in return.
Methods of Collaborating
Different companies will find their own methods of working together, however, it’s important to work out who is responsible for the various tasks within a project to avoid any confusion. You also need clear communication so that everybody is kept up to date with the project.
Where different small companies are working together there are various safeguards which need to be taken such as drawing up non-disclosure agreements. It’s essential to get expert advice on this before entering into a working arrangement, so that everybody knows where they stand.
A whole range of software tools can be used to help collaborative working. This sector is developing fast, with many new apps and services appearing, but the most important tools include cloud-based storage facilities, where colleagues and partners can plan and work on projects together from different locations.
When considering collaborative working with other small companies, the most important thing is to find people you trust and feel you can work with, and whose methods complement your own.