There are much easier ways to cooperate

As an official you want to be able to communicate and collaborate in an organised way. This also applies to organisations that do not make use of a case-management or document system. Currently, mailboxes still get bogged down in chaos all too often. JOIN cooperation will end this.

Sometimes, officials need to communicate with a large number of parties. For instance the Amsterdam Metro and Tram service. As an employer, operator and owner of the municipality’s tram and metro-infrastructure, including the project North-South line (Noord/Zuidlijn), the service is involved with numerous companies, from small contractors up to major construction companies like Arcadis.

The cooperation with major parties is already efficient and modern. This is because Decos developed JOIN Together, with Metro and Tram. Two Enterprise Content Management environments are linked to allow different organisations to cooperate from their own environments. As the Metro and Tram staff structure a work process, they can share it with major partners like the public transport company GVB.


Cooperating as was done before

Unfortunately, the cooperation with players that do not operate case-oriented is less efficient. Documents are still being emailed, as they used to, with the request to provide feedback. This wouldn’t be a problem if it occurred occasionally, yet the constant daily flow of documents will soon result in a cluttered pile of information.

As it is, one party will attach annotations to the document, while another will respond in an email. When adding the contradictions and duplications in the responses, it becomes obvious why Metro and Tram sought a smarter work method.


Inspiring design sprint

The wishes of the staff were clear: they wanted to be able to cooperate with all parties in a structured way, without the need for everyone to purchase a case-management and document system. Decos was consulted to seek a solution, in collaboration with the service.

After an inspiring design sprint – a week of brainstorming and discussions as per the Google Ventures pattern - the solution become more sharply outlined: it should be a platform, linked to JOIN, on which documents can be shared, edited and commented. Other parties however, would not be needing the case-management system.

After a lot of hard work by our developers, a first version of JOIN Cooperation is now ready. Thus far it is a minimum viable product (MVP), in other words, a first version that will be optimised on the basis of practical experience. What are the features so far?


JOIN Cooperation in practice

Metro and Tram is responsible for the improvement of the management and implementation of the total metro and tram network in Amsterdam. The service can present an approach in response to a development plan. This could take place, for instance, when particular green zones around a tram route are being re-developed. In such an instance, Metro and Tram wishes to present an approach to a number of stakeholders, such as the sub-contractor for green areas, as well as the architectural firm.

JOIN Cooperation ensures this process to run smoothly. The Metro and Tram employee will retrieve the document from JOIN and share it with the relevant persons. If desired, he/she could attach a message, stating for instance: “Can you identify any risks here? Please provide feedback”.

The people whom the document is shared with will now receive an email, with a link to JOIN Cooperation. The rest is easy: log in and – depending on the query – edit or comment the document. As soon as one of the stakeholders has finished his action, the Metro and Tram employee will be notified by email.

Also in case it is required to weigh the interests of the different stakeholders, this will be simplified by JOIN Cooperation. Adjacent to the document there is a discussion section, that operates intuitively while supporting personal interaction.



Why not ‘simply’ use OneDrive?

As a reader, you might think: this is all great, but I can do that using OneDrive! Still, there are some good reasons why public organisations would choose a solution like JOIN Cooperation. Firstly, the safeguarding of privacy and security; particularly in connection with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it would not be sensible for public organisations to store documents with an American cloud-provider.

Furthermore, creating an audit trail is a requirement for public organisations. Unlike the usual cloud-solutions, JOIN Cooperation stores all actions securely and compliantly: who edited and who downloaded a document? When placing the document back in JOIN, the entire audit trail is attached to it, including the discussions held.


The future

The first version of JOIN Cooperation will be operational as from 1 July. We will be making it an even better product, based on the feedback of Metro and Tram. We expect that it will also be to the benefit of other public organisations, from municipalities to safety regions.