[IMGCAP(1)]Almost everyone uses Facebook to connect with friends and family. And YouTube is the place for sharing and watching videos. Great for fun, but not for real work. Have you ever considered bringing people together “socially” like YouTube or Facebook—but for getting work done, instead of avoiding it?

Luckily, today’s new “social collaboration” approaches provide ample opportunities for sharing and interaction—for both individuals and businesses. Social collaboration helps the individual as much as the group.

For the individual it brings everything into a single view for them to stay organized across all their projects while providing a place for the group to accomplish their shared goals. This creates more engaged employees who have increased visibility into their projects. They have one place to go for all the files, tasks, meeting notes and comments. This creates stronger relationships with customers and allows the team to get things done faster. Implementing a purpose-built social collaboration tool, such as Kona, can play an instrumental role in helping your firm increase productivity and profitability.

Be Social, with a Purpose
Firms eager to drive up margins should streamline communication among everyone involved in an engagement—within the firm and with the client. How much time today is spent on tracking down information, scheduling meetings or following up on tasks? People can’t afford to waste time sifting through silos of information in emails, desktop files and network folders.

Social collaboration centralizes all communication and information within the context of your firm’s project or engagement so everyone involved has easy access to documents or answers to questions. Social collaboration tools grant real-time access to essential documents, conversations, important deliverables, major milestones, tasks and events for every project—saving you valuable time.

Imagine the partner who can, at any time, visit a shared Web site to converse with everyone on the engagement, review the task status or assign new tasks, answer questions or review documents. With everyone involved having a way to communicate and share information, consider how many meetings you can avoid and how much more time can be spent focusing on clients.

This added efficiency frees up your resources and allows you to focus on what really matters—winning more business and keeping clients happy.

Be a Firm that is Easier to Work with
Social collaboration also boosts client satisfaction. Clients may be annoyed by long and complicated email chains, while partners and staff can be equally frustrated when they can’t easily find information that contains the answers. And those excluded from the email chain can’t interject help or guidance, marginalizing their value to the engagement.

But social collaboration brings everyone together: clients are easily included via a secure Web-based project workspace. A simple log-in brings instant access to documents, checklists, meetings and conversations. Why not bring clients more deeply into the process, tightening their connection to your firm and bringing more visibility into the project?

Get Smart about Online Security
The thought of opening vital project information and documentation to everyone may seem unsettling–and it should. Not everyone in your firm or at the client needs to view or comment on each document, or hear and then participate in every conversation. Social collaboration done well means you have control to appropriately limit everyone’s involvement, and keep sensitive items like client files and audit binders safe and secure.

If you leverage the “cloud” for your social collaboration platform, you place responsibility for scalability, disaster recovery and data backup in the hands of a trusted third party, eliminating new responsibilities for your IT team. Make sure any social collaboration tools you choose give you security peace-of-mind.

Attract Young Talent
Social platforms of all kinds are now woven into our connected lifestyle. Every day millions of people are updating their Facebook statuses, uploading pics to Instagram, sending out tweets and posting videos to YouTube. Information sharing has become second nature for younger generations who grew up using these platforms. As they enter the workforce, these tech-savvy individuals now expect a social environment. Social collaboration at your firm will help attract and retain quality talent. Additionally, a socially connected workforce keeps employees engaged, while promoting a culture of innovation.

Bringing social collaboration to your firm provides newfound value to your organization. Social collaboration increases efficiency and improves collaboration between colleagues and clients, boosting productivity and minimizing time spent on non-billable internal meetings.

Having secure and immediate access to the most up-to-date project information in one online location keeps teams current, organized and connected whether they are across the hall or on another continent. With social platforms becoming more prevalent in our lives, doesn’t adopting a more collaborative environment make sense for bringing your organization better margins and more satisfied clients?

Drew West is a product director for Deltek, a provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors. With headquarters in Herndon, Va., the company has more than 1,600 employees worldwide.

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