Hello! I am Elizabeth Oyer, President of EvalSolutions, Inc. (www.evalsolutions.com) where I provide consulting services for personalized operations support as well as program evaluation. I would like to share some lessons I’ve learned about working collaboratively with my clients to manage our shared projects more efficiently, securely, and productively in a virtual space.
As an independent evaluator, I have learned through the years how to operate as leanly as possible. Large investments are difficult for organizations on a tight budget. In the behavioral health field, we are often working on contracts with small margins while keeping administrative overhead low.
For working collaboratively in a virtual environment:
1) Keep it simple – our partners may become “battle weary” if they need to add and/or learn a lot of new technologies. Let’s face it – our behavioral health partners may become frustrated if the tools we use cause too much friction in the process.
2) Leverage licenses wisely – remember, the priority is to manage costs while producing value. Consider whether your partners need a full license (which cost money and are limited in quantity) versus guest licenses (which are usually free and unlimited).
3) Security, security, security – people we and our partner organizations serve deserve the utmost attention to keeping their information safe and used only as they have been informed. Security encompasses technology, policies, and people. Don’t neglect this important component of collaborating!
A key resource I’ve used as the technical hub of my collaboration is found in the Microsoft 365 Business Standard. For about $150 per year, I have access to several essentials for collaborating across organizations. Here are just a few highlights of tools that I have used pervasively:
- Data Collection using Forms or Excel
- File Sharing through SharePoint
- Industry-specific security compliance supported by free Microsoft Business Associates Agreements (BAA)
- Business Intelligence reporting via Power BI with live feeds from Forms, Excel, and/or other data sources using Microsoft Flows
These apps are well integrated with many resources for building your skills! They have become cornerstones for my collaborative projects and services.
I have found that many of my clients and partners have their own Microsoft accounts that can sometimes create conflicts when they try to log into a SharePoint site that I have created for our project. No worries! Simply using the incognito browser window helps avoid the issues of these browser cookies.
I was amazed by how many different compliance standards there are! For behavioral health, HIPAA compliance is key, addressed for the covered entity using a BAA with Microsoft. Here is a handy list of standards.
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