It’s been proven time and time again: When companies are transparent, they perform better, morale increases, and team members are empowered.

Buffer, which produces social media management software, continues to make news by openly sharing its revenues, code, and employee salaries, thanks to its core value of “default to transparency.” However, responses to transparency can range from shock to skepticism to legitimate fear around privacy and security.

So how do you strike a balance between transparency and privacy? And how can Wrike help you get there?

How Internal Transparency Boosts Team Performance

When working with clients, it’s very clear which teams encourage transparency and visibility already. They are often more efficient, have a more supportive team culture, and have more engaged employees.

Some key benefits of implementing more transparency in your organization:

Save time locating work

Employees spend nearly 20% of the work week searching for and gathering information, according to a McKinsey report. Put another way, if you hire 5 employees, only 4 are really getting things accomplished — the fifth is wasting time searching for answers and tracking down documents they can’t find.

Giving employees the information they need at their fingertips saves time across the organization. Every time someone requests access to a project plan, asset, or another type of report, someone else has to respond to that request, find it, and give them access. Avoid wasted energy and time by granting access preemptively.

Streamline communication

One common thread we’ve observed among transparent teams is communications become far more streamlined, increasing efficiency and optimizing performance. Project updates are much easier to understand when the entire team has access to the larger project and can see historical context.

We also find teams with high levels of transparency have fewer meetings or, at least, more effective meetings, because all the information can be easily found, and it’s all updated in real time. There’s no need for individuals to pull together status reports because everyone can see where the project stands at all times.

Increase accountability

Transparency allows team members to identify project challenges early on and encourages them to find solutions together. Keeping peers accountable and also recognizing them when they do good work are important for a successful project. Additionally, transparency helps each team member understand how their work affects others within the organization and the project as a whole. Team members are less likely to complete their work late when they know their colleagues may suffer as a result.

Increase Internal Transparency With Wrike

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Frontline Education, which produces school administrative software, didn’t always have transparency into their projects. Folders were lost inside of folders. Managing tasks was a struggle. Collaboration suffered. However, after using Wrike to increase visibility across the organization, projects that once took 8 days only took 5. Over time, they’ve been able to handle about 20% more work.

Because all project details and communication are stored in Wrike, Frontline employees have a clearer view of their schedules, workloads, and expectations. “People are less stressed because they understand what work they need to get done and have ahead of them,” says Sean Amster, Digital Strategy and Operations Manager at Frontline Education.

Here are some best practices for increasing internal transparency with Wrike:

Organize folders by department or team

Identify and categorize folders by department or team so project members know exactly where to access and save work.

Clearly label folders and avoid redundancy

Agree on clear naming conventions to avoid confusion. Team members should be able to identify relevant folders at a glance.

Utilize cross-tagging for matrixed teams

Tag projects and tasks into multiple folders simultaneously for organizational access across matrixed teams.

Create custom groups

Share projects or folders with groups to grant access and visibility easily and efficiently. Clients often build their custom groups to resemble the organizational structure of their company.

Share insights regularly

Create shared team dashboards and calendars so everyone understands what needs to be done, in what time frame, and by whom. Team members and stakeholders can subscribe to custom reports and get updates delivered automatically to their Wrike inbox.

The Case for External Transparency

Opening up your workflows, processes, and project progress to the outside world may sound scary, but there are lots of benefits. By sharing your work with external stakeholders, you’re taking the first step in building a stronger partnership. Rather than throwing information over a wall, you and your customer can move through the project journey side by side.

When your stakeholders are empowered with more information, you can make decisions in alignment with your stakeholders knowing that they have a full understanding of your process. Your proactive transparency will also encourage your clients to share more information with you up front rather than holding it back.

Centralize communication

When both sides have access to the project history and all customer communications are kept in a centralized place, team members can ensure that they have communicated with all stakeholders, and no one is left out of the loop. This also can help avoid those “he said, she said” scenarios because everything is recorded in one spot.

Help clients justify expense

Your clients are under a lot of pressure to justify each and every expenditure — and that means you. Give them a peek into your creative process to help them better understand the work behind every step and the resources you’ve leveraged to make their request a reality.

Provide white-glove service

By creating windows into your work, you’ll make your clients feel as though they are getting the white-glove treatment. This visibility makes clients feel special by giving them access to internal processes, rather than making them wait for status-update meetings.

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Create Transparency for Collaboration With External Stakeholders in Wrike

Premier Sotheby's International Realty, a leading luxury real-estate brokerage firm, had a real problem with lack of visibility. It was causing distrust within their team and external contractors. There was no way to find the status of open job requests or provide proof of effort when mistakes were made.

After using Wrike to improve visibility, they found accountability was no longer a problem. Team members could now look directly in Wrike to see who is responsible for a task or project, and take appropriate action. “The biggest benefit of Wrike is that when you’re working with 900 individual personalities and independent contractors, being able to prove your value is crucial,” said Cristina Anstett, Digital Marketing Specialist at Sotheby’s. “Pulling a report and showing them how many jobs were completed on their behalf during a certain time frame is very, very powerful for us.”

Here are some best practices for improving external visibility:

Give clients their own space

Create a unique folder for each client and tag each project into the relevant client folder. This will allow you to see your work not only from a team perspective but also a client perspective. In addition, clients will feel special knowing you’ve carved out a dedicated place for them in your workspace.

Communicate timelines

Share project timelines and deadlines with clients so they feel confident with work progress. Wrike’s Gantt chart is a dynamic view that allows you to see your project progress step-by-step towards completion. Either grant clients access or share the chart as a PDF.

Invite clients into the review process

For hands-on clients, Wrike Proof allows them to participate in the decision-making progress by commenting directly on the document. Including stakeholders in the process reduces back and forth and gets you the feedback you need, expediting the process.

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So What About Privacy?

As we’ve seen, both internal and external transparency has many benefits. But how much transparency is too much transparency? Here are some challenges to consider:

The accountability gap

Too much visibility without clear ownership can leave team members pointing fingers when everyone assumes “someone else” is taking care of it. Make sure everyone understands their responsibilities, and ownership of tasks is communicated clearly.

Client confidence and satisfaction

While letting clients into your process builds trust and increases collaboration, seeing the inner working of a project might cause a client to question your processes or decisions. Let’s face it, no team is perfect. There are going to be moments of stress or lack of coordination. Silo some internal conversations or bring clients into the process when things are humming along smoothly to avoid oversharing. An explanation of your workflows and a reassurance that occasional mishaps are part of the project process can go a long way.

Disturbing the creative process

Some team members work better when they don’t feel like someone is watching over their shoulder. Workplace monitoring can actually hinder productivity. Discuss with your team what’s the optimal point in the project to give a client access.

Monitoring Privacy in Wrike

Wrike is a powerful tool for transparency and visibility, but there are many ways it can be used for privacy as well. This gives you the power to limit and monitor access to specific areas of your project for individual users or groups easily. Here are a few tips:

Optimize your folder structure

Give child folders (those folders nested in other folders) stricter access settings. Turn off inherited sharing to restrict access appropriately.

Monitor and control access to information

Use Access Reports to monitor who has access to any given folder at any level of detail, and keep track of who’s included in which custom groups at all times.

Protect your work

Data privacy and security is one of Wrike’s top priorities. We’ve built several features to help you maintain full control over what data you want to share and with whom.

Ultimately, transparency and privacy are both vital to building a highly collaborative and optimally performing team. Striking the perfect balance between the two can take some time and a few iterations before everyone feels good about it. Prepare to check in with your team and clients to understand what’s working and what’s not working, then make the proper adjustments.

Interested in how Wrike can help you balance transparency and privacy? Start your 2-week free trial today.

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