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7 Ways Your Team Can Improve Project Collaboration

group collaboration, team collaboration, improve collaborationWhen you improve project collaboration, you improve your organization’s ability to develop innovative products and processes. What are some specific strategies you should employ to get to a more collaborative environment? 

1. Focus on goals. The most effective project collaboration tends to be aimed at a specific goal or goals. So a natural place to start the process is with a discussion of the pain points/problems for a given project that the team is trying to address. Starting in this way ensures that team members share a specific understanding of what success will look like, and also makes it easier to take periodic measurements of the team’s progress and compare it against the established goals. 

2. Create small, diverse, nimble teams. The best way to encourage collaboration on a team is to keep groups small and diverse. For inspiration, consider that one of history’s most prolific inventors, Thomas Edison, liked to organize his people into teams of 8 or less that included a variety of disciplines (his light bulb team, for example, included chemists, mathematicians, and glassblowers). Fortunately, collaboration tools on the market make it easier than ever to include team members not only from different parts of an organization, but from different parts of the world. 

3. Build trust. To improve project collaboration, it’s crucial for team members to trust and respect one other. In a similar vein, they must be sure that management is supporting them, providing the time needed for collaboration, and giving credit where it’s due. If you’re assembling a team with members who are working together for the first time, consider team-building exercises that allow the members to get to better know each other and their work/communication styles — building cohesion and trust in the process. 

4. Choose appropriate tools. We live and work in the age of the app — and that’s good news for organizations that are seeking to improve project collaboration. There are many software tools that empower collaboration — not only widely-known ones such as DropBox that facilitate file sharing, but also other, lower cost (and even free) tools for screen sharing, real-time chats and IMs, scheduling and more. Click here to read about our five favorite collaboration tools. 

5. Appreciate different approaches to technology. Ultimately, you’ll want your team members all using the specific collaboration tool or tools that you select, for ease of management and cost effectiveness, if nothing less. That being said, it’s helpful to keep in mind that not everyone may be ready to adapt to the new technology at the same time (“hey, what’s wrong with me just collaborating via e-mail?”). Be realistic, and build a process and schedule that allows time for bringing every member up to speed on the new technology. 

6. Allow sufficient time for success. Evolving to a more collaborative environment is not a simple or quick process. Rather, it requires changes in not only how group members work individually and together, but also in the level of trust that the individuals have in each other and in management. Try to manage expectations in such a way that you maintain enthusiasm for the new possibilities the process will enable, with the realism that success will not come overnight. 

7. Effectively capture information and ideas. Last but not least, make sure your have a system to capture and store the group’s collective work, as well as individual members’ contributions. Unlike using simple email for communication among team members, the leading collaboration tools create central repositories where communication and documents can be archived for later referral — a very useful capability to have throughout a project, but especially when a key team member leaves. 

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your collaboration engines!

Collaboration may seem like just another corporate buzzword … but for the most part, the strategies underlying it are not too different from your other tried-and-true business practices. By carefully establishing and guiding your project teams, equipping them with the most effective collaboration tools, and managing expectations appropriately, your organization can be on its way to far more innovative and responsive products and services. 

Ready to begin collaborating as a team? Read our below blog to learn how to work more cohesively:


Team Collaboration Techniques

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