Project Collaboration Tools: How Can They Be Utilized To Achieve Project Objectives?

Effective Collaboration Tool

Effective Collaboration Tool

Most would agree that effective communication is a vital component for effective project management and overall team productivity. Every organization I have worked with always has a broad range of software, but many do not have what I would call effective communication management systems. The type of system I am talking about goes beyond software to include people and processes. Project collaboration tools can play a significant role in communication within and across project teams by providing better clarity of details and priorities, which can reduce the amount of time-wasting meetings.

Having an effective system provides the ability to quickly communicate project status, personnel assignments and issues between local and global teams. When team members can securely communicate from their respective locations, the productivity gains can be notable.

Project Collaboration Tools: How Can They Be Utilized To Achieve Project Objectives?

Organizations that utilize effective collaboration tools as part of an overall communication management system can see increases in productivity by enabling relevant information to flow between departments, teams, and individuals with minimal friction. Projects can be better managed by focusing on what is important rather than getting lost trying to track down information.

From my point of view, an effective collaboration tool provides the following capabilities to an organization:

  • view priorities across projects at a glance
  • quickly update information in a rapidly changing environment
  • determine task assignments by resource across projects
  • instantly drill down into the details as needed

This last point is critical. Many communication management systems fall short because managers cannot drill down into the details. I am a big proponent of empowering the people who report to you, but I think it is critical to be able to view the details when needed in order to access progress and offer guidance to keep a project or initiative on target. Think of it as selective, strategic micro-management.

Why does this type of philosophy not work everywhere? The first answer that comes to mind is trust. Executives don’t trust their managers, and managers don’t want to look bad to the executives so they tend to cover up important issues. This type of behavior starts at the top of an organization and replicates itself throughout. If someone feels that entering information into a collaboration tool can be potentially bad for their job security, they tend to not enter critical information that could be perceived in a negative way. If this is the case, it really doesn’t matter what collaboration tool you are using; it will not make an appreciable, positive impact on communication with other teams and levels of management. This is why I mentioned earlier that effective tools are one part of the puzzle, with people and processes being the other pieces.

If you do have the right people and processes, project collaboration tools can be implemented at a reasonable cost and provide many advantages to an organization. For a tool to be effective, in addition to the core capabilities mentioned above, it needs to be fast and easy for people to use. The best way to access a tools speed and ease of use is to try it out on a pilot project. You can read spec sheets, case studies and the like all day, but like every smart phone I have owned, there are some definite subtleties that can only be discovered by actual use.

With the right collaboration tools, people, and processes, project objectives have a much higher chance of being met because of their ability to disseminate clear and relevant information instantly, which frees people to focus on getting things done as opposed to running in circles in the fog.

“One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.” -G. Weilacher

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