Project management teams rely on collaboration to accomplish nearly everything they do. Unfortunately, heavy workloads can dampen a Project Team’s ability to maintain productive relationships across the various sub-groups. People slip into silos and partnerships dwindle. Fortunately, there are a number of things the project office can do to keep collaboration alive. If teamwork is slipping in your Project Team, consider incorporating these 6 strategies.
1 – Get the right communication tools. Any number of software and hardware platforms can be used to keep the team communicating, but a few baseline tools will give everyone a place to begin. Bridge the miles when members are in different offices with dedicated videoconferencing equipment or computer-based video applications. Connect on the road using video chat-enabled mobile phones, laptops, or tablets. Provide team members with headsets, extra batteries, wall and mobile chargers, and USB keyboards and mice. For security purposes, any device that connects to the organization’s network or is used to store or access sensitive data should be protected with both a password and up-to-date antivirus software.
2 – Keep the information flowing. The amount of data moving through the project office is often nothing short of astounding, so ensuring the team is able to access all that information is crucial to robust collaboration. The possibilities to facilitate good data flow are vast, including platforms designed to store and share documents, software suites that function as team-wide knowledge bases, applications that monitor status updates and progress reports, and programs that support real-time resource tracking. Not only do these solutions enable true Project Team-wide collaboration, they also reduce the amount of time teams must spend managing an ever-growing amount of data.
3 – Set aside enough time. Though much in the collaborative process happens informally, it’s important to routinely put a spark to the system to ensure busy schedules don’t get in the way. Put regular meetings on the calendar so the team—or subsets of it, depending on the situation—can come together consistently for discussions, brainstorming, problem solving, disagreements, celebrating, and all the other things that keep a group moving in the same direction.
4 – Create unconventional partnerships. Collaboration can jump to a new level when unlikely team members are brought together. Combining their diverse backgrounds and areas of experience heightens a group’s ability to devise new ways to tackle challenges and apply conventional solutions in innovate ways. The creativity boost will likely last long after the individual team members have been reassigned to other projects, as they will forever be able to leverage new ways of thinking about problems.
5 – Include stakeholders. Successful collaboration requires that relationships extend beyond the perimeters of the Project Team. Stakeholders of all varieties, from end users to sponsors at the executive level, should be close partners throughout the project lifecycle. Extend meeting invitations to them, include them in video chats, copy them on project documentation, and solicit their advice and opinions. Make the dialogue a two-way street, so PMP®s are able to request information as freely as they give it.
6 – Reinforce achievables. Encouraging teams to remain focused on results is a great way to promote collaboration. When Project Team members and stakeholders work together toward achieving success, they’re naturally drawn to devising better ways to engage. Each group will find its own groove when it comes to addressing challenges. Some may prefer games or other exercises when working to solve problems, while others might opt for quiet discussions. Putting the achievables in front of the team will give them the flexibility to find the best route while keeping everyone focused on progress in the same direction.
Project management training tips provided by PMAlliance.