Let's consider a few breakdown points in projects and the interlaced concept of collaboration in project success and keeping an otherwise tilting project ship upright throughout the engagement...
Communication. Communication is Job One for the project manager. Effective and efficient communication is at the heart of every successful project since the beginning of time...though I'm sure it's not always obvious. A project manager who is a poor communicator will only make it on luck for so long before the Peter Principle takes over and he needs to move along to another line of work. The old adage of, “fake it till you make it” really doesn't apply here. You can either communicate or you can't. A solid collaboration tool or full featured PM tool with the good collaboration element built in can help the otherwise struggling project manager and team make it through the issues and unknowns and stay on top of status and deliverables at every point in the engagement.
Meetings. Meetings are a key collaboration point in the whole project scenario and are a key element of good communication. Meetings on a project are often a 2-3 times a week occurrence...sometimes even daily. Preparation, agendas, attendance, participation, decision making, information dissemination, and followup are all key elements that must be present in order for meetings to serve their purpose well on a project for all key stakeholders. Frequently cancelled meetings, project managers who are not good at preparing for and facilitating project meetings, and poor follow-through after the fact are the reasons some project meetings don't help and can actually hurt the productivity of the team and the project engagement as a whole.
Document and information sharing. Shared documents and templates, good information sharing and dissemination and the assurance that what is being shared is up to date and that the same documents and deliverables aren't being updated by different individuals at the same time...meaning some form of version control...are more key elements for successful projects and project management. Any PM tool that can help the project manager and team get there will help “fix” the project of error-prone deliverables, poor collaboration and workmanship and time wasted digging to uncover what is causing bad info and deliverables to get through to the project client. Usually the project schedule doesn't have extra time built in just to babysit the flow of necessary documents and information...it needs to be done right the first time.
So how do we combat these issues or potential issues? How do we stay on top so as to ensure that we don't fall down that well of ineffectiveness, lack of communication and connection with our team and stakeholders and lack of overall collaboration? Well, we can roll the dice and hope for the best...or we can choose a good collaboration tool that will help us and our team stay on track and collaborate effectively on the projects we are involved with.
Summary / call for input
To me, collaboration is at the very heart of project success and team effectiveness. There are many ways we can go about gaining a more collaborative work environment with our team, customer and all stakeholders. Of course, finding one tool that helps you get there can be a real time saver and productivity enhancer.
Readers – what are your thoughts on project collaboration and the role it plays overall in project efficiency and success. Please share your own thoughts and success stories – or pain points – on collaboration.