Beyond the Whiteboard
Online Whiteboards to Improve Collaboration and Productivity
When corporations undertake complex projects, visual aids are sometimes used to enhance understanding of the various steps involved in bringing a project to completion. A whiteboard traditionally served this purpose by providing a platform for conceptualizing these steps. The introduction of online whiteboards adds a collaborative and productivity-enhancing option to the practice. Online whiteboards allow for enhanced collaboration by allowing employees in dispersed locations to contribute to the conceptualization process.
An online whiteboard enhances engagement by involving employees in the learning process in a way that would be difficult to match with a simple online lecture, which may cause participants’ minds, and attention, to wander. Online whiteboards allow you to boost participant engagement, helping you cover important concepts with employees and team members more effectively.
The following tips provide insights that can help you get the most out of your online whiteboarding efforts.
With a traditional whiteboard, participation can be limited if a dominant individual takes over the process, preventing others from adding their two cents to the process. In the online version, no single individual can dominate the process, aiding the process of collaboration.
To enhance collaboration, encourage two-way communication via your online whiteboard. Rather than using it simply as a tool to inform team members of your thoughts on a project, ask that they share their feedback on the issues presented by means of the whiteboard.
This approach, in addition to providing team leaders with valuable feedback, also helps to build consensus, which can boost productivity, as team members who feel that their thoughts on a project are taken seriously are likely to be more invested in the success of that project.
Practice Proactive Brainstorming
Brainstorming is a powerful means for getting the most out of the collaborative process. A major benefit of using a whiteboard is that it enhances brainstorming. One technique for maximizing the productiveness of this process is to give team members a chance to come up with ideas on their own initially, rather than springing the brainstorming topics on them the day of the discussion.
This approach is facilitated by an online whiteboard, where ideas are added individually at any time for the group to evaluate later. People typically are more apt to offer ideas online than they would be in-person, where the risk that their ideas will be criticized while they are present may inhibit their desire to present them for consideration. When selecting topics, make sure to clearly specify the issues to be considered. Ambiguous topics can lead to topic drift, which can cause valuable time to be wasted in the discussion or consideration of irrelevant subjects.
Following are some examples of clearly stated brainstorming directions:
- How can the company improve its manufacturing process?
- How can the company maximize revenue?
- What are the costs and benefits of direct or indirect distribution?
- How can the company’s costs best be modeled?
- What steps can the company take to reduce product breakage?
Use Visuals to Enhance Conceptualization
We humans are a highly visual species. Take advantage of this in your online whiteboard presentations by using visuals cues and other material to increase participant engagement. These can take a variety of forms, including:
- Flow charts
- Video links
To enhance the process of visual conceptualization, your whiteboard should enable drawing. It should also allow the importation of relevant images from the web or other sources. Visual cues to navigation should be used to explicate complex topics.
Use cases should include visuals to enable new ideas to be easily added and spur discussion. A visualization tool with the necessary flexibility for drawing and keeping notes makes collaboration easy. The whiteboard tool should also have the ability to accommodate work on a variety of projects simultaneously. The tool should enable easy sharing of visuals across several different projects.
Use Online Whiteboards to Help Manage Complex Projects
An online whiteboard can be an invaluable tool for managing complex projects with many moving parts. By building knowledge that can be used beyond an individual project, the tool enables the application of a uniform company approach to projects. It can also facilitate the completion of complicated projects as your employees don’t need to rediscover the wheel in terms of drawing up effective policies and procedures each time they start a new project.
When using an online whiteboard for projects of this type, flow charts can be invaluable when it comes to simplifying complex relations between multiple processes. In such situations, being able to view these relationships in a visual format is a valuable aid to understanding and improving them. An online whiteboard can easily save a multitude of flow chart relations, allowing you to easily switch between them when analyzing a process or scenario. These relationship maps can also be saved for use in analyzing future processes sharing similar characteristics.
The ability to facilitate remote collaboration is key to efficiently managing and completing a variety of projects, especially if those projects involve a number of stakeholders. With an online whiteboard, your team members can weigh in with their thoughts on project implementation and strategy wherever they may be, as long as they have access to an internet connection. As a highly adaptable tool for visualization and conceptualization, the online whiteboard can be a valuable component of your strategy for bringing complex projects to fruition.
Conduct Remote Training
The days when you needed to bring employees from all company facilities, however distant, to company headquarters for training are behind us. While there are certainly times where it is imperative to conduct hands-on training, in many cases the physical presence of employees is not necessary. For these situations, an online whiteboard can be an excellent tool for educational purposes.
Using a whiteboard in this way helps to ensure employees stay engaged during the educational process. Simply delivering a lecture, either via conferencing technology or using text, runs the risk that employees will disengage from the process, or become distracted by something in their immediate environment. An online whiteboard allows you to request feedback from learners during the session, making for an iterative learning process.
Nuvro is a robust online project management tool that allows employees in dispersed locations to contribute to the conceptualization process of any project. With Nuvro you can gain control and peace of mind over all of your projects, tasks, team members, workload and everything else important to your company. In addition to the project, task and collaboration features found in most PM tools, Nuvro also provides a company dashboard, a team dashboard, team member performance reviews, secure document management, an internal alternative to email and more. Nuvro is perfect for busy teams looking to accomplish more. Learn More…