Great project management is built on collaboration. It’s definition, according to Project Management Institute, is: “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” This inherently requires collaboration—bringing together skills, resources and employees to complete a project on time.
Collaborative project management encourages employees to align with an organisation’s goals and vision, feeling more connected to their work and the business itself. It’s easy to lose that collaborative focus, however, when you’re crunched for time and operating under strict deadlines.
Don’t let this critical element of project management slip away. Instead, consider how these strategies allow project managers to keep collaboration at the forefront.
1.Make Communication Consistent
Agile project management popularised stand-up meetings, brief daily gatherings to facilitate status updates, peer-to-peer sharing and prevent issues. The agile methodology, which is focused on consistent communication, has become an industry standard. According to the Project Management Institute’s 2018 Pulse Report, 46 percent of organizations used some version of agile last year.
While software, development or IT firms mainly use the agile workflow, the principle can be used by any project manager because consistent communication promotes collaboration. When you have a lot of moving pieces and stakeholders involved, the easiest way to avoid ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ is to speak about it. This is where platforms begin to play an important support role.
Elena Carstoiu, COO of Hubgets explains: “[Technology] allows people to communicate, share ideas, documents, or any other kind of data in a matter of seconds. By increasing work productivity and relieving frustration caused by constant interruptions, technology enables efficient communication, which ultimately is collaboration.”
Some project management tools may have some form of this built in via commenting and threads, so start there. If you already use a company-wide chat platform, focus on how you can use it to better leverage communication for projects as well.
2.Build Trust and Create Partnerships
Collaborative project management will not succeed without a proper foundation of trust—trust in both colleagues and leadership. Paul Zak, author and neuroscience professor, shared the results of his neurological study, which found that compared to people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies are 50 percent more productive, 76 percent more engaged, and are generally better at collaborating.
Establish trust throughout your team by building partnerships between employees, especially those who don’t work together day in and day out. For example, implement cross-discipline teams to complete project tasks (i.e., pair marketing with the dev team). This pushes employees out of their comfort zone, improving collaboration and company-wide communication. If employees trust their co-workers and learn to work with one another, you can continue to build a collaborative environment.
3.Use the Right Tools
Project management software or programs can provide a platform to gather information, communicate with your team, display results, and crowd-source feedback in real-time. The right program will save time, streamline projects, and foster collaboration. Choosing the correct project management tool is an organization-based decision. Here are a few popular options that make collaboration a breeze;
- Trello organizes projects with boards (similar to Pinterest), lists, and cards.
- Asana is a highly customizable program that uses ‘workspaces’ to organize teams and projects.
- Paymo is a project management software that also includes time-tracking and invoicing functionalities.
- Basecamp integrates discussion boards, storage, scheduling, and a chat function (Campfire) into one program.
- Confluence is a content collaboration software that’s part of the Atlassian suite. It includes an in-program search engine, which can be helpful when your projects require lots of documentation.
4.Maintain Project Transparency
Transparent project management will make collaboration much more accessible. If every task and decision is visible to all stakeholders, team members will better understand the scope of the project. Entrepreneur John Rampton suggests; “Have managers share ‘true project plans’ as quickly as possible. While a bit radically transparent, this helps you gain buy-in with your employees.”
When everyone understands the functions of the team as a whole and the relationship between various tasks, they’re more likely to feel invested in the overall goal and outcome of the project.
5.Practice Recognition and Appreciation
Lastly, when your team achieves milestones, acknowledge it. Once the project is complete, celebrate and reward achievements. This praise will boost morale and confidence. Recognition shouldn’t just be a top-down practice. Encourage team members to show appreciation and support co-workers throughout the length of a project. If employees lift each other up, they’ll be more engaged and productive. According to a recent survey, 89 percent of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins have a positive impact on an organisation.
Get Ready to Collaborate
Project managers have to deal with a wide range of challenges, from budgeting and monitoring workflows to measuring the overall success of a project. PMs must also possess soft skills like managing relationships between employees and the various idiosyncrasies of team dynamics.
If you foster an environment of collaboration, your team can take some of the burden off the shoulders of leadership, while encouraging employees to be more engaged. Ultimately, everyone is more successful when collaboration is ingrained in your project management efforts.