Effective project collaboration means your entire team is efficiently working together to make sure everything is delivered on time.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Not so fast—because it’s easier said than done.
Getting your team to collaborate across projects, whether it's with each other or your clients, takes serious work. You need to get your team on the same page. But you also need to ensure everybody working on the project has the capacity, skillset, and tools to deliver a great outcome.
In fact, survey data from Fierce Inc. shows 75% of teams think collaboration is essential to team success, while 86% believe poor collaboration results in failed workplaces.
To overcome this, you need to understand how to empower project collaboration and the best ways to implement these processes across your team.
What is project collaboration and why is it important?
Project collaboration is a team-based process that increases productivity through more efficient workflows, collective knowledge sharing, and open communication.
Everyone on the team works toward the same goal of completing the project with the smallest amount of bottlenecks and delays. If it's done well, project collaboration can revolutionize the impact of your team's work rate.
Opening the doors to smooth communication is a core part of project collaboration. It allows everyone working on a project to share their perspective, voice their needs, and ultimately gain a sense of ownership over the project they're working on.
In fact, a McKinsey study found using tools like social technologies to boost collaboration actually improves team productivity and interactions by 20-50%.
Collaboration can dismantle silos within departments, which opens up the door to cross-functional collaboration. This allows people working in different roles to join forces to tackle the same project.
Project collaboration not only boosts productivity but also drives innovation. When your team has access to easy-to-use collaboration solutions like Teamwork, it's easier to communicate with one another.
Teamwork's task management features make it easier to comment and tag colleagues or clients whenever feedback is necessary, so you assign work to the right people and projects.
Where teams typically struggle with project collaboration
Project collaboration becomes nearly impossible when there's not a single source of truth or centralized hub for everyone to use to communicate, share, and assign tasks. It's common for teams to lose project documents or collateral when everyone is using their own Excel sheets for project management.
Illumina Interactive, a Boston-based full-service eLearning production, and development firm didn’t have a way to collaborate with each other or their clients. Michael Getz, president of Illumina Interactive, explained how their team relied on email and a shared file server that made it challenging to give feedback on projects.
The team decided to invest in Teamwork so they could keep all the moving parts of every project under one roof. The firm could finally work in real-time on every project with a Kanban Board View.
Suddenly, daily tasks were streamlined as the team used the platform to attach documents to specific tasks and stay out of the inbox endlessly searching through emails. Team members and clients can also make changes to project files without needing to switch to another platform—saving hours every week.
"We can't imagine going back to the chaos of email and spreadsheets as our tools for managing everything," said Getz. "The software has completely changed the way we operate — for the better.”
The benefits of an effective project collaboration process
Project collaboration is both a process and an action. Even with a powerful project management software like Teamwork, without a guiding process, participation can be inefficient and messy.
Start with the basics.
Define where all of your project progress, communication, and files will be stored (tip: centralized location > multiple areas). Train your team on how to use your tool so everybody is on the same page.
Once your process is mapped out, your action or participation can kick into high gear. That’s when your team will really start to reap the rewards of effective project collaboration and be able to:
Increase productivity: A project collaboration framework means project tasks can be scheduled evenly across your team based on capacity, rather than dumping one team member with more work than they can handle. A balanced workload increases productivity.
Communicate more efficiently: Project collaboration creates a centralized place where everyone can communicate, share ideas, and give progress updates. This is especially important for managing remote teams.
Solve problems faster: Project collaboration gets rid of email threads and lengthy meetings. Save your team time and give them the chance to solve problems related to the project much faster.
Cost-cutting: Project collaboration reduces the number of tools, platforms, and even physical spaces for meetings your team needs to complete a project. A good project collaboration process allows your team to communicate and work together digitally using a central platform.
4 of the best project collaboration tips to inspire teams or clients
Apart from creating a place where your team can collaborate, you also need to use some tricks to ensure your project collaboration process is successful. That's why we've put together a list of our four favorite project collaboration tips to help you move the needle.
Let's take a look:
1. Think about whether or not you need to have that meeting
First, if you’re going to have project meetings, make sure they’re necessary. It’s crucial to check in with your team’s progress. But don't drag them into lengthy meetings that could've been avoided with project collaboration software.
Implementing this type of software helps teams visually manage progress or create chat channels for projects or daily stand-ups. For example, use Teamwork Chat to send daily stand-up messages in a project channel so your team can respond with what they’re working on without bugging the entire department or company.
2. Only involve team members who will be working on the project
Speaking of meetings—when you do have them, make sure that you only invite people who actually need to be there. It's tempting to invite everyone you think should be there, but the truth is most don't need to come unless they're directly involved in the project.
Instead of wasting someone's time or inviting unnecessary voices to the meeting, organize your gatherings with the help of a project management template. Teamwork has dozens of templates you can use to streamline projects, keep team members aligned, and measure success.
For example, our project tracker template is perfect for team leads who need help keeping everyone's eyes on the prize. This will make it easier to map your workflow for simpler reporting, so you know exactly how work is progressing.
If everyone working on the project is clear about their responsibilities, the rest of your team can focus on other projects instead of worrying about unrelated tasks.
3. Prioritize balancing your team's workload
Assigning tasks to team members with the right skill sets is crucial to be more efficient. However, effective project collaboration is when you ensure sure everyone is capable and has the capacity to complete the tasks.
If your team members are swamped with tasks, you risk them coming in late, which could throw the project off course. With the help of resource management software, you avoid capacity overload, steer clear of bottlenecks, and keep a birds-eye-view on project progress in real-time.
The last thing you want to do is set it and forget it. Teamwork makes it easy for team leaders to see every task and deadline, so you can pivot if bottlenecks creep in. You can create customizable dashboards to track tasks assigned by project or by team member, so you never miss a beat.
4. Use a tool that can handle the various projects across your team or clients
Project collaboration is easier and more productive with the right toolkit, but finding the perfect software can be challenging. And more companies are moving to collaboration software to increase team efficiencies.
A study by Gartner revealed that there has been a 44% rise in workers’ use of collaboration tools since 2019, largely due to the pandemic. It's safe to say remote working isn’t going anywhere.
The Owl Labs’ 2021 State of Remote Work found 91% of respondents believe workplace flexibility is critical, while 95% believe good technology is equally as important. Project management software is arguably one of the most important technologies you can leverage to keep your team organized, improve project collaboration, and keep things on schedule.
For client services teams, there's no better solution out there than Teamwork. We help organizations collaborate in real-time with their internal team and their clients by inviting them into the platform free of charge.
Create a more collaborative workflow by inviting your clients to your projects so you instill trust and transparency across the board.
The reasoning for project collaboration software
Building a successful and productive project collaboration process requires the right software features to get your work done. Whether you need to work across multiple projects, hold teams more accountable for work done, or share real-time progress updates, the right tool will help you.
Project collaboration software comes in many forms. The beauty is it brings all of the tools you use to work together and plugs them into a centralized location. Think of your collaboration software as a project motherboard.
Here are some of the reasons why using project collaboration software will make your life easier next time your team works on a project:
It supercharges your collaboration and communication
Instead of using email to comment on tasks or share files, teams need direct access to mention or tag one another inside a project.
Make sure you have the software to add multiple team members with various permissions so you can increase collaboration without the worry of inviting the wrong people. Communication is a lot clearer when it's easy to see who is responsible for what.
Team permissions help project managers assign tasks, set deadlines, and share documents with the appropriate people. This makes it easier to see who's a client, collaborator, or freelancer, so everyone can be assigned the correct work.
It streamlines task management
For your projects to be delivered successfully, team members need to know which tasks they’re responsible for and when they need to get done. Teams run into the problem that people don't always know what their tasks are once a project kicks off.
A collaborative project management software is a place where you can break down projects into separate tasks, assign them to the right people, set deadlines, and remind team members if you’ve got an important milestone coming up.
In Teamwork, project managers can create Kanban-style boards for every task and include who is working on them, important project files, and due dates in each card.
It creates a single source of truth
Without a single source of truth, it’s hard to know who is right or why projects go off the rails. And that’s where project management software is worth its weight in gold.
If you plan and track a project inside Teamwork, it becomes your north star. Team members can't say that they didn't know a task was their responsibility (it was assigned to them), or they weren't aware of a deadline (it'll be attached to the task).
It's also a place where you can store project scopes, budgets, and timelines that are accessible at any time. If anyone is confused about when a task is going to get done or what's included in the project, having a centralized place lets team members check for themselves.
It makes managing your people easier
Planning and managing tasks are only half the battle with a project. The other half is making sure you've got enough people available to work on a project and get it delivered on time.
Team schedules are tricky, especially if you (like many agencies) juggle multiple projects and clients. Within Teamwork, you can schedule your team and track their utilization rates to make sure nobody is overworked.
Inside the Teamwork Planning Overview, you have a detailed breakdown of all the projects in your pipeline. You'll also see a timeline view of how many tasks have been allocated to each individual and a breakdown of their estimated, logged, and remaining hours for that day.
You can customize your team's working hours and availability to suit your agency. For example, if you only want your team to work for a certain number of hours a day, just set the length of day for each team member so they’ll never burn themselves out.
Or if your team has said they don’t have enough time for tasks like email or client communication, you can allocate unavailable time on their schedules to get them done within their usual working hours.
And as project budgets can also be monitored inside Teamwork, the tool keeps track of the hours your team spends on projects so that instead of overspending, every project is delivered on time and on budget.