Your Collaborative Work Management Platform Could Actually Be Inhibiting Collaboration

by Staff Writer

With the rise of remote workforces and an increase in organizations relying heavily on cross-functional collaboration to deliver projects among key current trends in the enterprise, effective collaboration is a growing challenge — and a critical business requirement.

According to an October 2018 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Smartsheet, Deliver On Top Business Objectives With Collaborative Work Management, nearly 80 percent of organizations agree that “team collaboration is critical to successfully planning and delivering projects related to top business objectives.” And 78 percent view collaboration across silos as critical to “delivering on top business objectives.”


Yet despite these business needs, the tools that businesses rely on to execute work offer varying capabilities when it comes to enabling collaboration across — and between — organizations. Here are three things to look out for when selecting a truly collaborative work execution platform.

1. "View Only" Is Not Collaborative 

Collaboration doesn’t only occur within internal employees – it’s not uncommon for project stakeholders to cross company lines, with teams that include clients and other external strategic partners. Some collaborative work management tools, however, can make this unnecessarily challenging by limiting functionalities for external users.

For example, it’s not uncommon for some platforms to only allow “view only” privileges for external users, preventing them from commenting, editing, or creating tasks within the tool. This wastes time, causes frustration, and introduces needless complexities and risks to projects as stakeholders must find workarounds to these limitations.

sharing permissions in smartsheet

To solve for this challenge, the Smartsheet work execution platform provides the option to give internal and external users permissions to view and edit project plans and other information — and even manage or share a sheet depending on the permissions given. This ensures that everyone is able to access the information and perform the tasks required to move projects forward quickly and effectively.

2. Collaboration Shouldn't Cost More 

Even if your collaboration tool does offer capabilities beyond simply viewing information, there may be strings attached – specifically, costs per user. Many tools charge a licensing fee for extending editing and other privileges to additional users. If your team works with numerous vendors, contractors, and customers, the cost of collaboration can quickly grow – and unforeseen opportunities to work with external partners could even put you over your budget.

collaborators in smartsheet

Furthermore, the time required to seek and process approval for additional license fees for external users can reduce enterprise agility and slow project momentum. With Smartsheet, non-licensed collaborators can contribute to projects at no additional cost, so you can avoid extra fees and keep work moving forward.

3. Ensure Secure Collaboration 

In a highly competitive market, confidentiality is key for many projects. As such, it’s not uncommon for some people to be involved on a “need to know” basis, in which they only require visibility into relevant tasks and information at specific times in the project lifecycle.

But the need to limit informational access to specific stakeholders can be at odds with some collaborative technologies. Many tools treat sharing as all or nothing, meaning added users can either access all the information or none at all. Other platforms make it difficult to change a user’s role once configured. But often secure collaboration requires a more granular approach, granting the right people to access the right information at the right time.

smartsheet dynamic view

Smartsheet Dynamic View, a premium add-on, takes sharing even beyond the traditional permissions approach, automatically adjusting permission levels throughout project life cycles. This means you can allow certain individuals access to information as needed based on project stages, rather than treating permission as a static setting. This helps to keep necessary details secure, without inhibiting stakeholders’ need for project-critical information.  

You may already be using a work execution platform to manage projects. But if your platform does not enable you to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders at no additional cost to you, and control the information that can be accessed by each stakeholder, you may want to take another look at the tools available. There’s a good chance you’re inhibiting collaboration in your projects or compromising data security – and reducing your chance of project success at the same time.