You plan. You set the budget and the schedule. You do everything you can to control the known and unknown factors of a project. But once you implement all those well-thought-out ideas, then it’s up to the team to execute them.
That’s why you spent time getting together the most experience and skillful team possible. You want a dynamic time, one that will follow orders, but not blindly. They can think for themselves, and better still, act when action is needed and time is precious.
But none of this is done in a vacuum. Teams need autonomy to boost morale and keep them nimble to respond quickly to issues as they arise. They must work together and with you to solve problems. They need communication tools to keep them connected wherever they are. What they need is collaborative support.
Collaboration software can make a great team even better, more efficient and productive, by making them work together. There is so much a collaborative tools can do. The following are nine ways they can make your team stronger.
1. Fosters Communication
Communications is the lifeblood of any team, really any project. If you’re not able to articulate what you want and when you want it, clearly and easily, well, then you’re asking for headaches and worse. So, how are you going to communicate, with emails? You’ve used emails. They pile up, get ignored, are hard to find the one you want and, worst of all, don’t provide immediate feedback.
No one is saying trash your email account. It serves a purpose, but you need a more vibrant means of communication. Communications needs to be a dialogue, not a relay race of statements. Team collaboration is improved by collaborative chat, either by setting up groups or person-to-person. Now you can get not only an immediate answer to your question, but you have easy access to the conversation if you need to reference it.
Also, by creating a collaborative communication platform for your team, you have a place where they can brainstorm together. Collaboration apps allow you to attach files to the narrative streams, files and other documents as well as pictures and links, all of which creates a virtual meeting place for your team. If they’re all under one roof or distributed across the globe, it doesn’t matter. There’s now a space in which they can work together.
2. Fosters Innovation
Innovation is one of those buzzwords that fly around business environments from time to time. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be innovative? But there’s a big difference between giving a concept lip-service and actively promoting it in your organization. Do you know how to support innovation? That’s right, embracing project collaboration.
Ideas need to be free. That sounds like a lofty statement, but it applies to the practice world of project managements. New ideas can come and go, but if you’re not sharing them with your team, and your team isn’t communicating them amongst themselves, then those ideas wither away and die. When you’re collaborating, though, ideas have a chance to pollinate across many teams, leading to further insights that might otherwise have been missed if they hadn’t been freely shared.
3. Fosters Question-Asking
Questions are important. If you don’t ask something, then you’re probably ignorant of something. Think about it, even if you believe yourself knowledgeable, there’s nothing wrong with pushing against the borders of that knowledge and see where that takes you. The last thing you want from your team is an unquestioning group, who just follows orders. That’s like choosing a computer with limited memory when you can have one with unlimited memory. What would you choose?
With collaboration software, you facilitate questioning. You’ve created a platform where it’s easy to ask a question, and better still, that question can then be posed to the entire team. Once it’s out there, there’s more of a chance that it will be answered better, or at least with more creative options.
Also, with a tool that streamlines communications and allows for greater collaboration, team members are more likely to ask questions, then in the more formal atmosphere of a departmental meeting. You want to encourage team members to ask questions and bring up issues, even if they think it’s unimportant, because it might be crucial.
4. Increased Transparency
What is project collaboration? One thing, it’s a way to increase transparency in an organization. A project can’t be a silo, where you don’t know what the team is doing or the stakeholder is in the dark. This is an invitation for disaster. Team members need direction and stakeholders should be kept in the loop.
With collaboration software, there’s transparency. Everyone knows what everyone else is working on. They can comment on that work, ask questions, which, as noted above, is super-important. Transparency means that people can see the contributions of others and how that ties into their work.
Working across teams, with people collaboratively sharing, you’re able to integrate when you can, which eliminates redundancies and leads to greater efficiency and productivity. Now you’re no longer wasting valuable resources by having people works on the same tasks or competing tasks between departments.
5. It’s Fun!
Having fun is not exactly the number-one motivation at work, but it sure makes doing the job a lot more pleasant. When you’re using a collaborative tool, you’re creating an informal culture that allows for a more casual approach.
Teams are chatting on a platform more akin to social media, so they’re freer to speak their minds about the project, evens inject some humor and needed personality into workplace interactions. While some might think this creates a slacker culture, in fact what it does is create community. You’re building a tighter team and boosting morale, which will lead to great employee retainment.
Collaboration Adds Value
Working together is better than working about. The Harvard Business Review noted in its research that “clarifying what collaboration is (and what it isn’t) and gaining firsthand experience with one or more collaborative projects” is the only way to learn about the value of collaboration.
So, to recap, collaborative software enhances the value of your team and increases their productivity. It gives them tools such as:
- Chat: message boards and feeds are a great team-building and collaborative tool, be it topical, group or teamwide conversations. It keeps everyone informed, and is essential for remote teams, who don’t get the chance to talk around the watercooler.
- File Sharing: When everyone has access, you save time and promote transparency. Files and project documents are available to all who need them, when they want them. Keeping knowledge centers on relevant topics is a great way to keep teams focused on up-to-date news and best practices. Everyone is in the loop and can add files as needed.
- Team Calendars: With an online calendar that collects everyone’s schedule you and your team knows who is available, who is working, who is on vacation or out sick.
- Project Plans: Now the manager isn’t the sole owner of the plan, teams today can collaborate around the project plan with online Gantt charts. Projects are a team effort. You can use your team to help you plan, tap their expertise and keep them updated.
- Tasks: By collaborating on tasks you keep the workflow productive. You can add images and comments at the task level to facilitate collaboration. You can also assign and reassign to keep task progress updated within the task and not lost in your email.
Now you’re ready to apply some collaboration in your project, right? You want to get your team working collaboratively, using tools that help them become a more unified and productive force. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that connects your team and you in real-time, offering all the feature you need to foster collaboration and work together for the greater good of the project. Try it and see for yourself with this free 30-day trial.