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Kelly Anthony's blog - February 6, 2014 - 4:58 pm

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is the world’s largest association for the language industry. One of its key programs, Collaborative Resource, Innovation and Standards Program (CRISP), brings together thought leaders from around the world, to develop best practices around research and analytics, tools and process, standards and global skills for localization professionals.

Serge Gladkoff, the leader of the program, shares how he uses Smartsheet “to do what I had once thought impossible – engage 20 leaders and experts from all over the world on complex, collaborative research and come to unanimous agreement in just three weeks”...a process that used to take years.  

Tell us about your process for working with such a globally dispersed team and some of the challenges you were facing:
CRISP's mission is to establish standards and best practices for in the localization industry.  Until very recently, the process for developing new standards within my colleagues was very long. It took years to collect all of the comments necessary and follow the entire process.  

GALA's CRISP program works with dozens of corporate leaders, all around the globe and in different time zones, who are experts with full time jobs (myself included). We’re all only able to contribute a very limited amount of time to our work with CRISP. On past projects, merely scheduling a conference call to discuss the standards we’re developing was a huge problem.  

To make matters even more complicated, the standards that CRISP develops and distributes have to meet requirements set by the International Organization of Standards (ISO).  ISO acts as an extra layer of consistency over our work which affects so many different regions and cultures.  

Any time we develop and review new standards, each member of our team has to review the draft and make comments. Then we have to discuss all of the comments, so that our final product is reflective of the consolidated position of our entire group. The consolidation and discussion part of our process used to necessitate a face-to-face meeting or lengthy conference calls.

How does Smartsheet help you collaborate during the review process?

I discovered Smartsheet while leading our most recent project. With the help of this tool, I was able to collect and discuss comments in a very short timeframe – just three weeks.

I began by creating a comment list in Smartsheet, an easily accessible centralized spot for everyone to give their feedback on the Standards we were reviewing. Then I gave our entire team access to the sheet.

Over the course of a week, the entire GALA CRISP team added their comments on the draft we were tasked with reviewing – in total 150 comments on various parts of the Standard.

With comments neatly organized in one place, it only took me two days to review all of the feedback. I was able to collate comments, remove duplicates and combine all feedback into a master review sheet with 100 comments in total.

What was your next step? 
Instead of scheduling an in-person meeting or conference call to discuss all of our comments, I added a column for voting into my master comments sheet. It was an easy system of red-yellow-green balls for my team to use to express their opinions.

Using this new system for voting, we were able to see each others’ thoughts as they came in, which made it much easier to consolidate our positions. With this voting system, we were able to cut down our comment list from 100 down to 30 by unanimous agreement, and then another 10 just by communicating our thoughts through Smartsheet.  

What were the results of using Smartsheet to collaborate?

We were then able to schedule only one conference call to discuss the remaining debatable 20 comments – a single call which took only two hours.

I used Smartsheet to do what I had once thought impossible – engage 20 leaders and experts from all over the world – on complex, collaborative research and come to unanimous agreement on revisions in just three weeks.

And because GALA's team works virtually – for example, our CEO is in Washington, DC, and our other staff are in Seattle, WA with collaborators across the entire globe – GALA has started using Smartsheet for other collbaorative tasks, such as tracking our community outread, communications, and more.

Other collaboration tools such as Google Docs simply don’t compare to Smartsheet.  If you’re looking for the best way to bring together a dispersed group of people and collaborate online, this is the only tool you need.

Comments

Collaborating on a large project can be a very difficult task when working with a globally dispersed team. However, this was a great example of how that objective can be implemented successfully. Thanks for sharing.

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