Not long ago I found a recent study published by PMI, a project management learning company. The point of the study was to find out if organizations are successful in facilitating team collaboration.
The findings suggest that although the majority of organizations value a highly collaborative work environment, less than one out of three organizations actually have a framework in place to facilitate it. Wishing your teams would collaborate more effectively isn’t going to do the trick. Here are a few of the key take-aways from the report identified by the Project Management Institute :
- The majority of organizations, in fact, do not work collaboratively, despite the value that they realize would come from better teamwork
- Rigid work structures exist within companies that keep people from working together
- Organizations are not investing in the right mix of skills training needed to improve collaboration on projects and initiatives
Another part of the survey called out by PMI that I thought was particularly interesting was, “While 65.5 percent of respondents believe that their organization’s project performance would improve if their teams worked more collaboratively, only 27.8 percent actually do.”
This is not global problem but there are many organizations around the world that give lip-service to create an effective collaborative environment, and they don’t do anything about it. In fairness, I think it’s more that they don’t understand what to do than that they don’t want to do it.
I believe that creating an environment where teams can effectively collaborate requires attention to two very important factors:
- The tools they use
- The organization’s leadership approach
It seems like every day there are new collaboration tools available. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that no matter how long the list, it would leave many solutions unmentioned. I would like to suggest a few key elements that should be part of any potential project management or collaboration tool you might be considering:
- Collaborating needs to feel natural: If the PM tool or collaboration tool you are using is clunky and cumbersome to use, nobody will. We know that a social media-like approach works, maybe it’s time we stop fighting it and start leveraging the metaphor to create a more collaborative project environment.
- It needs to be easy to use: If collaborating in the software is a pain, it just won’t happen What’s more, the valuable information project leaders need to make decisions and manage the process need to be captured at the team member level. If we make collaboration easy, it will be easier to capture that information.
- It needs to take place in real time (in the cloud): Let’s face it, many organizations are working with distributed teams spread throughout the world. For real collaboration to take place in real time it needs to take place in the cloud. A SaaS product allows people to log in and collaborate regardless of what time it is anywhere in the world. In my opinion, any PM or collaboration solution that limits individual users to the software installed on their desktops and doesn’t share information over universally accessible network just doesn’t facilitate collaboration. I think the SaaS model does this the best. It shouldn’t matter if you are at your desk, in the office, on the road or anywhere in the world—software in the cloud enables real-time collaboration to happen.
- It needs to be available and accessible to the world: I know it’s problematic for software vendors to produce their product in every potential language spoken by project teams around the world, but at the very least it should accommodate the major languages of the world: English, German, French, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, etc. I know of a number of organizations with teams in the U.S., India, China, Mexico and Europe comprised of team members who don’t all speak English. I don’t know of any software provider that does this flawlessly yet, but I think being multilingual is an important part of collaborating for many teams.
In addition to the tools we use, the approach we take with the team can hinder or help create a collaborative environment. As far as my team is concerned, it is very collaborative. It starts with how we plan our projects (we do it together) and how we interact regarding them. I’m a big believer in allowing individual team members to make decisions about how they’re going to tackle their contributions to initiatives and encourage a lot of discussion and interaction among the team.
I’ll admit, this is sometimes messy when we all have divergent opinions about a particular approach, but once we come to terms and agree, the sense of personal ownership felt by everyone on the team ensures that a greater number of projects end successfully. Encouraging the negotiations that usually happen anyway gives everyone a sense of ownership. And, if your PM or collaboration tool makes it possible to capture those conversations and negotiations seamlessly within the tool, then you’re on to something.
If this survey accurately represents the state of collaboration in most organizations, we need to get to work making it easier for our teams to collaborate. What are you doing to facilitate collaboration among your project team members? TouchBase is one of such Integrated Project Management Solution which has got comprehensive functionality in a collaborative environment which collaborates Projects, Teams, Clients & all Stakeholders on a single platform. It executes projects more competently accelerating global success of an organization.