Want to make your business more efficient, reputable and profitable? That might seem like a lofty task, but there’s one key thing that can lead to improvements in all of those areas.
That thing is: collaboration.
Collaboration is not just a nice thing to do. By fostering a collaborative environment you can drive better bottom line results. Here are five key benefits of collaboration for small businesses.
More Efficient Processes
Have you ever encountered an organization where “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”?
What happens in such an environment? Lots of duplicated activities. Things fall through the cracks. Someone drops the ball on something, and a mini crisis ensues. Employees end up having to re-do work or fix errors that could have been avoided in the first place.
And what’s the impact on the company? Projects take longer to finish. Customers are unhappy and may go away. The company ends up spending more time, people resources and money than necessary, hurting the bottom line.
But through better collaboration, your employees gain clarity in their roles. Clarity helps each person know what they are supposed to do. They know what others are doing — or not doing. Clarity through collaboration frees employees to focus on specific parts of your mission, at specific times — without costly overlap or gaps. Things flow more smoothly and get done right the first time. And that means lower costs for the business, and faster turnaround times.
And the good news is, inexpensive technology tools can aid collaboration. Cloud collaboration tools like Microsoft Sharepoint  eliminate gaps and make hand-offs of activities easier to do. Processes flow more smoothly. Get good collaboration tools  in place, and your team can work together in a way that’s effective, leading to more efficiency.
If you don’t have a true collaboration system for your team, that likely means that your team has to rely on communication methods like phone systems, text chat or email. While phone and email are essential, they can lead to fragmented, incomplete or siloed information.
Instead of important information being readily available to all those in the organization who need to know it, 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.
In short, despite all the communication tools, you have an information gap.
But with one of the many cloud-based collaboration options available like Microsoft Teams , for example, information is more widely available to everyone who needs to know. Remember, information is only valuable if it’s available to the right people at the right times, so they can make use of that information for your business.
Tapping into Employee Strengths
When you encourage your employees to work together on projects, you also get the benefit of each person being able to work on activities that are most suited to their specific strengths. Projects can be divided up more effectively based on skills. In other words, you are able to tap into your employees’ strengths.
When employees are doing work they are suited for and good at, they will do a better job. And they will achieve more – for themselves and for the company.
This gets you improved productivity over the long run and also saves you money on things like hiring and training new employees.
Access to Better Workers
Through use of cloud collaboration tools, you widen the potential pool of employees. For instance, with today’s collaboration tools like Yammer , you may be able to hire more remote workers who otherwise wouldn’t want to relocate. Also, employees may be able to work from home a few days a week (something important to those with family obligations).
In essence, you can attract and retain valuable workers by giving them geographical flexibility.
Instead of limiting yourself to just those in your immediate area, you can hire the person who’s best for the job, regardless of their location. And if you’re able to hire the best possible workers, you’re more likely to get more done and be more effective as a business owner.
More Satisfied Customers
There’s a direct correlation between happier, more effective workers along with more efficient processes — and the level of satisfaction among customers.
When you have team members who are happy at work, good at what they do and able to work in an efficient way, that will translate into better service for your customers as well.
Once again, the benefit of collaboration tools like Skype for Business  in the mission of satisfying customers is clear. In a recent Twitter chat  David Smith, Microsoft’s VP of worldwide SMB sales, tweeted that nearly half of small businesses think that cloud collaboration and similar cloud based tools have led to more satisfied customers.
— David Smith (@DavidSmithSMB) November 10, 2016 
Make 2017 the year that you increase collaboration to improve your company. Investigate and implement a collaboration tool, and you’ll see payback on multiple levels.
At the time of this writing, Anita Campbell is participating in the Microsoft Small Business Ambassador program.
Teamwork  Photo via Shutterstock