Collaboration is the cooperative working together of project groups, employees, companies and their suppliers and partners to optimize the value chain. Collaboration involves the distribution of information and the joint use of resources. These can be administrative resources, but also developmental, process-based, production and service-oriented or information technology resources.
Crucial to collaboration are end-to-end process chains that support data exchange for procurement, production, sales, service, and so on.
Collaboration can take place between spatially and organizationally distributed project groups, in which employees may be spread across different, regional and national locations and employed in different divisions or corporate units. It also relates to different communication services. For example, collaboration must include stationary computers and mobile devices in equal measure, as well as e-mail, instant messaging( IM), video conferencing, phone calls and faxes. Such a model requires a high degree of flexibility and initiative and can be aligned with customer needs. This means that customers are involved in the collaboration. It is also not only about production-related issues and the supply of know-how and components, but also about services that are available to the customer after an installation.
Since the functionalities of a collaboration are extremely complex, the relationships between objects, actors, messages and services can be clearly represented in a collaboration diagram.
Collaboration represents the extension of Procurement with regard to further business activities. Thus, collaboration includes entire projects and products up to the creation of entire production facilities and factories. If collaboration takes place via the Internet or intranets, it is referred to as online collaboration or e-collaboration.