File repository services such as Box, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive have made sharing content within an organization much easier.  These tools give businesses the opportunity to control access to important documents because they can be linked to a user’s corporate identity.  They’re also helpful because they allow users to only work on a single copy of a document. Companies are happy with secure isolated solutions delivered from the cloud; when it comes to collaboration with other companies solutions are evolving.

Regardless of the controls in place people always find a way to share the documents they need when they have work across company boundaries.  When documents need to be shared with external teams, who cannot access documents in their original location, employees find inventive and often inefficient ways to collaborate.

It’s important to recognize that users have to be able to share content securely with the correct people so that they can work together.  For example, in sales it is in the person’s best interest to facilitate the needs of their prospects, by giving them access to their calendar to schedule meetings.  If external users can’t work effectively with your existing teams, they’re encouraged to go elsewhere.

If colleagues copy documents from the corporate repository and share them over other channels, the benefits of the repository are incapacitated. If your IT policy is preventing teams from distributing the documents, it leads to them taking screenshots or setting up meetings to screen share content.

Ultimately, duplication leads to slow and ineffectual collaboration, if there are multiple stakeholders it’s likely that modifications, reviews and comments are not synchronized; the result is people working on the wrong copies of files. It’s also very easy for comments to lose context if it is not clear where they are meant to apply.

Maintaining regulatory compliance is of the utmost importance when collaborating with other companies. It is necessary to demonstrate that you are compliant with HIPPA, GDPR and other legal requirements.  The biggest compliance issue with duplication is that documents cannot be rescinded. 

It is not possible for guest users to bring their own content; this results in content being shared in one direction.  Collaboration needs to be bi-directional so that all parties work coherently.

When guest users enter collaboration applications and do not appear as themselves; using their corporate identity.  This causes traceability concerns for both parties. Firstly, it means that companies cannot control how their users interact with another company’s toolset; they are left with no audit trail.  Secondly, it is also hard for companies who manages guests. They may not know when a guest no longer requires access to the documents shared with them; when someone leaves their organization for example.  If they only present themselves as a guest, with no specific identity, there is no way to track things back to their source.

Your teams use a multitude of applications when working on a project.  This only compounds the issues here. CafeX keeps a consistent experience for your users that use your existing applications.

For collaboration to be successful, both companies need to be able to clearly specify their own permission and audit sets to access each other’s workspaces, documents, calendars, and application data; not just for their organizations, but down to individual users.  This allows each organization to adhere to their own access and retention policies.


To summarize:

  • Companies like isolation, but find ways to collaborate anyway.
  • It is in the interest of all parties to share data for collaboration to be effective.
  • Find tools that adhere to your collaboration compliance policies.
  • Make sure guests can keep their corporate identity.
  • Implement clear but granular permission sets for every company you work with.
  • Use solutions that create a consistent experience between applications.