Teamwork is essential to successful projects. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, and getting all the team members of a project working together with a unified vision leads to better results with a faster turnaround. Here are a few tips to make sure your next team runs at peak efficiency.
1. Stop, collaborate, listen
It seems overly reductive, but actively communicating with team members is a good way to keep a project in check. The people working on the low-level tasks have a perspective on the project that managers simply can't get on their own.
Team members won't always share setbacks and developments - sometimes they're afraid of the consequences, or they're hesitant to communicate at that level, or there are simply other effects, team members don't see without a high-level view. By integrating a line of communication with team members into a project management plan, managers are able to build a more accurate image of how a plan is being realized.
Using a wiki to document a project is a great way to keep everyone involved in it up-to-date. Since it is so simple to create new pages on a wiki, project updates and helpful documentation can be distributed quickly and effectively. And since any member of the team can edit those pages, the wiki becomes a collaborative knowledge base for everyone on a project to contribute to. Good hyperlinking can network that knowledge together, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the facets of the project.
New team members can easily catch up with the rest of the group by browsing around. Also, by the end of a project, wikis contain a wide base of information - if a project is public-facing or requires end-user documentation, the information already on the wiki is a good start on that sub-project.
3. Catlike Agility
The flexibility of online project collaboration lets teams work in whatever way works best for them and can be tailored to those needs. Agile development methods have traditionally come from the world of IT - but Agile methodologies are helpful even outside that field.
A quick primer on the Agile Manifesto, according to the Agile Alliance: It prioritizes people over process, functional demonstration over documentation, collaboration over contracts and flexibility over procedure. In short: Communication and responsiveness need to be more important than inertia, the way things have been done.
Constantly revising project management tools and techniques is important to improve collaboration and efficiency throughout an organization - not just on individual projects.
4. Blog the day away
When team members are able to document facets and intricacies of a project that aren't necessarily best handled by wikis, managers can also turn to blogs for a more centralized way of delivering updates.
Use blog articles to give focus to team members whose jobs aren't well-understood, or announce big changes to the team in a blog post. Or for larger projects with multiple teams, each team can have its own column with regular updates. In fact, certain blog posts might be perfect for adaptation to give stakeholders or the public a look into the project development process.
5. Version control
Those who have spent hours combing through attachment after attachment looking for the most up-to-date version of a file - or, worse yet, a previous version of one with a crucial piece of information buried within - know the struggles of managing various documents across a large project.
Figuring out which revision is the most current, merging different branches of the same file and dealing with inconsistent naming conventions in a document workflow are hallmarks of shoddy, inefficient version control. The best project collaboration software is able to streamline this, securely storing files and streamlining the workflow with check-outs and version-locking.
6. Kill email dead
Email is one of the least efficient tools that everybody uses. It's nigh-ubiquitous in the office, but few actually enjoy an inbox filled with disorganized chats, piles of newsletters, and possibly - possibly - useful information. It's seemingly impossible to get rid of: Google put its weight behind Google Wave, a high-profile attempt to replace email - but it fell apart less than three months later, according to Google itself, due to lack of interest.
So email isn't going away any time soon. Fast Company described the biggest issues of email: It's almost impossible to stay on top of, and it's widely misused, being tapped for tasks it wasn't built for.
Instead of using email for group communication, where a mess of replies, reply-alls and forwards make tracking a discussion a struggle, use discussion boards, where messages are tracked in real time and saved in a single location so anybody can get up to speed.
These are just a few of the ways that effective teams can better collaborate. With the right project collaboration software and effective team communication, a team can work harder, better, faster and stronger.