June 4, 2019

Effective Collaboration in Project Management

By Brian McHale

Projects do depend on your budget, but they depend on your people even more.

More precisely, projects depend on effective collaboration. While teamwork isn’t as emphasized as technical skills, the state of your team is going to affect the state of your project.

It’s in your best interest to create a project management collaboration process that makes it easy for everyone to do their best work.

In this post, we’re going to show you how you and your team can work together better with the help of a collaboration framework.

Let’s take a look!

What Is Collaborative Project Management?

In its very essence, project management is all about collaboration in the workplace.

However, when we talk about collaborative project management, we typically think of the processes used to manage people and facilitate collaboration.

This is especially important for companies that work on complex projects with teams across the country (or across the world).

What Is Collaborative Project Management

By using collaboration frameworks, teams are able to effectively function even if they’re not in the same room. They see tasks in real time, updates, and know where they are on the project.

Typically, you can use social intranet software or other collaboration tools for that task.

For example, you may use Office 365 to keep track of everything and everyone at your company. At the same time, your teammates need to be able to see their tasks and all the information they need.

Otherwise, you could be stuck emailing files back and forth, losing as much as 2 hours every day on finding the information you need to do your job.

The collaborative process wants to put a stop to that, and help you and your team manage your time and resources better.

The Benefits of Project Management Collaboration Processes

When you have clear guidelines for collaboration and all the necessary tools to do it, work gets a lot easier. Especially if you’re not a professional project manager, but someone who’s found themselves managing teams and projects.

Just some of the benefits your team will experience are:

1. Better communication through effective collaboration

Communication is definitely the key to success, especially when it comes to task management.

When team members are able to get the necessary information and communicate with one another from an equal standpoint, you bet they’ll be able to collaborate effectively.

Better communication through effective collaboration

Effective collaboration opens the doors to better communication for diverse teams; from the fully remote ones to cross-departmental teams.

This benefit is perhaps at its most obvious when it comes to resolving problems. Ten heads are wiser than one, and if your team is collaborating effectively, they can resolve a problem with feedback and ideation much faster than a single team member.

2. Projects finished sooner (rather than later)

Who hasn’t burned the midnight oil to finish a project? But if you managed to finish your project in time despite a breakdown in communications, you’re one of the lucky ones. One third of all projects fail due to poor communication.

However, when you add a process for better collaboration process to the mix, you’ll see that your projects get wrapped up sooner.

Everyone’s on the same page, they can discuss their different points of view, and no obstacle can stop a team that works together well.

3. The collaborative process reduces costs

Finally, ineffective collaboration comes with a price tag.

From project extensions to dents in the budget that could’ve been prevented with active team risk management, as well as physical space that you have to provide for employees to work together in the same location.

When you use the right tools to to track tasks and make sure everyone’s up to speed, you can even eliminate the need for physical meeting space.

How to Improve Project Collaboration at Your Office

You can use some of the following collaboration ideas to help you implement it for your team:

1. Bring your team on board and do it together

The most sustainable changes start with teams. Even if you’re the manager of your team, that doesn’t mean they have to be passive participants.

Instead, encourage them to actively manage themselves and other teammates in the collaborative process.

In the beginning, you can pay special attention to how your team members communicate with one another, and nudge them in the right direction.

For example, when a team member brings certain information to you that’s also relevant to another teammate, encourage them to go and share it with them, as well.

This’ll avoid the situation where you’re the bottleneck everyone comes to for information.

And on that note…

2. Decentralize knowledge sharing

If you’re the boss – hey, you’re the boss! But projects are much kookier than that, and you can’t establish a clear collaboration framework if everyone constantly comes to you to be kept up to speed.

Instead, use a tool and implement practices for knowledge sharing.

For example, you can encourage team members to upload documents to a shared folder in Microsoft Office 365.

This way, they won’t have to rely on you for getting information. Everything will be easily accessible.

3. Use collaborative tools to help you and offer training if necessary

There’s no reason to do everything yourself in the 21st century. There are plenty of tools you can use to implement effective collaboration team-wide.

Use collaborative tools to help you and offer training if necessary

From Microsoft Teams for instant communication (especially useful for remote teams) to visual task management with Project Central, you can make sure your team has all the information they need on hand, and an easy access to the coworkers they need to collaborate with.

However, make sure you establish guidelines for using these tools so no one mistakes Teams for an excuse to send work-related messages in the middle of the night.

If some team members aren’t familiar with certain tools, you can offer training or encourage another teammate to help them learn the basics. This subtle action could significantly improve the level of collaboration within your team, as well.

4. Delegate and clarify

While project collaboration means team members will be more confident managing their actions themselves, it’s important that you, as the manager, encourage them to do so.

The best way to do it is by delegating tasks to the right people and avoiding micromanagement.

Instead, you can check in on them and see if they need any help. It shows you respect their abilities, making them more confident to collaborate with other team members without asking for your input (unless necessary).

Similarly, you should clarify the benefits and the purpose of effective collaboration processes you decide to implement.

5. Encourage honesty and transparency

According to a 2011 survey by Fierce, 99.1% of employees prefer workplaces where they can discuss issues honestly and effectively.

And while collaboration is about meeting the deadline with as few headaches as possible, it’s also about the tough conversations that need to be led if you want to finish the project.

Use effective collaboration as a way of encouraging team members to speak up about any (potential) issues they see or they’ve been experiencing. Discuss it with them, and invite others to brainstorm solutions.

This can help you avoid some pretty bad risks in the long run. Otherwise, a team member who notices a potential problem could decide not to bring it up.

Conclusion

At its very foundation, effective collaboration is all about people.

And by encouraging your team to talk to each other, as well as providing them with the tools they need to do it, you’ll be on your way to great results before you know it.

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