Tools & Technologies

"Use a Blog as a (Team) Collaboration Platform" – Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

Last month, Thursday at GigaOM proposed that a blogging tool could be used as a collaboration platform.

Pulling together a new project team can be done quickly, even if your team members are spread across the entire world. But putting effective collaboration tools in place tends to take a little more time. However, there is a way to do so quickly using simple blogging tools that lets you get to work with your team, without having to wait on organizational bureaucracy or corporate IT to set up something on the internal network.

The approach I’ll outline below relies on using hosted blogging software, such as Blogger, Typepad or WordPress.com (please see disclosure at the bottom of the post – Ed.), so it may not be a perfect solution if you need to guarantee security. Not that hosted blogging tools aren’t secure, but the best way to keep information under your own control is to keep it on your own servers.

The steps outlined by Thursday are:
– Create an account and set up the new blog, and mark it private.
– Invite your team members.
– Share updates and documents – go for it.

I’m not so sure – in fact, I would be hesitant to recommend this.

Per the 7 Pillars model, I believe teams need 7 things to work together productively and effectively:

1. Shared Access to Team Data … A blog will do this for blog posts and comments, and if you attach files, it can do this too – but there is no version control on the documents. In fact, if you were going to go this route, I’d recommend doing away with documents-as-objects all together, and just creating a link to a Google Doc or Spreadsheet, and letting Google handle version control, etc.

2. Location-Independent Access to Team Data, People and Applications … Anywhere you have an Internet connection, you’ll be able to get to the blog – via laptop, iPad, or smart mobile device. For offline, you’ll be out-of-luck, but that may not be important.

3. Real-Time Joint Editing and Review … No go, unless you use Google Apps, as per my recommendation in Pillar 1 above.

4. Coordinate Schedules with Team Aware Scheduling Software … Good luck, or more plainly, no go.

5. Build Social Engagement through Presence, Blogs and IM … The blog will perform the function of the blog, but not presence and IM. In today’s language, we’d probably say Twitter too.

6. Enterprise Action Management … You may be able to fudge this with a fancy tagging scheme, but if you want more than fudge, it’s not going to work.

7. Broaden the Network through Automatic Discovery Services … Mmm, possibly, depending on what you do to make it work.

Listen, if the challenge is an unresponsive IT department, fix the IT department. If the challenge is not having the right collaboration tools available, then check out a real collaboration tool that you can get to quickly – 37signals Basecamp, Central Desktop, or Huddle to name but three of hundreds – and then get to work. But don’t stuff around with a poor fit-to-purpose technology just because it’s apparently quick and free. That’s not a great approach.

Categories: Tools & Technologies