You hear a lot about how SharePoint enables collaboration, less about how it can foster negotiation, but I have a client who's making great use of it for that purpose.
This organization has a busy IT department which had been tracking work requests (i.e., requests for changes or new projects from the organization's internal customers) internally using an Excel spreadsheet. At the beginning of this year we converted the spreadsheet to a SharePoint Tasks list, and added many custom metadata fields including Requestor, Executive Sponsor, and Estimated Hours to Complete. I used Christophe's technique of color coding the list items based on status to put a colored indicator on each task, and the client was thrilled with the ability to expose work request status graphically on the department's home page. Now, anyone in the organization could see right away how busy the department is just by seeing the number of active requests and the work in progress. (At this point we're moving forward with a custom workflow which will route each request through the approval process and update its task status automatically, but that's another post for another time!)
But more than this, the list can now encourage conversation within the organization. By making requestor name and executive sponsor name visible and obvious, the vision is that a requestor will go to the list, see other projects in the stack, and, instead of wrangling with IT to force the new request into an already full pipeline, that requestor will approach other requestors or sponsors directly: “I see you have this project in the queue – can you put it on the backburner so my project can receive the resources?”
This new system is bringing a lot of hope to my client because the truth is, we don't always collaborate with a single purpose in mind. Often, prioritizing projects can get political and the person who screams the loudest wins. (I imagine that exposing richer business data, such as revenue by project team, practice area, or geographical location, would generate negotiation as well - for example, around recruiting and hiring.)
Is negotiation like this (based on a sunshine principle of allowing everyone access to departmental or business information) happening in your organization? If it is, how do the tools and culture support it? If it isn't, how might they be changed to facilitate more debate and compromise?