Collaborating on a project means getting your entire team to work together to make sure it gets delivered. 

Sounds pretty simple, right? Not so fast—because it’s easier said than done. 

Project collaboration takes work. You need to get your team on the same page, and you must also make sure that everybody working on the project has the capacity, skillset, and tools to work together and deliver the project.

It's essential to find a way to do all this, as studies show that 75% of teams view collaboration as very important, yet 86% of employees blame a lack of collaboration for workplace failures.

To overcome this, you need to understand what project collaboration is and how to implement it successfully in your team. This guide will break down: 

  • What is project collaboration, and why is it important?

  • The benefits of an effective project collaboration process

  • Top project collaboration tips 

  • Why you need a collaborative project management software

Let’s get collaborating 🤝

What is project collaboration, and why is it important?

Project collaboration is where a team shares knowledge, works together on a project, and collaborates to increase productivity. 

If it's done well, project collaboration can revolutionize the impact of your team's work rate. It can gel your team together and create excitement about working together to deliver a project. But it also keeps everyone on the same page: making sure that they know who is working on what, when a milestone deadline is coming up, and creating a feedback loop so they can work out any issues as a project progresses. 

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. 

A McKinsey study also found that using tools like social technologies to boost collaboration can improve a team’s productivity and interactions by 20-50%.

Image of stats on project collaboration

“Companies that have a high proportion of interaction workers can realize tremendous productivity improvements through faster internal communication and smoother collaboration,” the study found. 

Further research found that collaboration can break down silos within teams, which can open up the door to cross-functional collaboration—where people working in different roles join forces to work on a project. 

Which brings us to our next point—why project collaboration is important? 🤔

The answer is two reasons: it can boost productivity, and it increases innovation. When your team has access to easy-to-use internal collaboration tools, it not only makes it easier for them to talk to each other, it also makes their work process more efficient. 

That’s exactly what Illumina Interactive realized when the company’s workload began to rise.

 Teamworkr has helped Illumina Interactive's project collaboration

The company, a full-service eLearning production and development firm based in Boston, was using disparate tools and documents to track project assets, schedules and deadlines. President Michael Getz says they didn't even have a single location for all of their project documentation or collateral. 

“Even though we had dedicated servers, an intranet and extranet, files were being stored in multiple locations and folders, and each project manager had their own special filing system,” Getz says. 

“It worked, but we were spending far too much time every day looking for materials that we needed.”

Even worse, the team didn’t have a way to collaborate with each other or with clients, relying on email and a shared file server to keep files and messages. It often meant that emails were buried in inboxes, and clients and team members found it hard to give feedback on a project.  

They knew they needed a better system to collaborate. 

So, they invested in a project collaboration tool so they could keep all the moving parts of every project under one roof. Using Teamwork, Illumina Interactive can now work together in real-time on every project, attach documents to specific tasks, so they don't have to go searching in their email inboxes, and keep every task organized using Kanban Boards:

Image of Kanban board view project collaboration

Team members and clients can also make project files changes without switching to another platform to save or transfer files—saving hours every week.

"We can't imagine going back to the chaos of email and spreadsheets as our tools for managing everything," Getz says.

The software has completely changed the way we operate — for the better.

The benefits of an effective project collaboration process

Project collaboration is above all else a process and an action.

That's why project collaboration can be broken down into two pieces: process and participation. If you start with the process, where all of your project progress, communication, and files are kept in the same place and gives your team a centralized place to communicate and share ideas—then their participation will kick in.

Once the two pieces come together, your team will reap the rewards of project collaboration, like:

  • 🚀 Increased 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. With everyone working on a balanced workload, productivity can increase.

  • 🗣️ Better communication: Project collaboration creates a centralized place where everyone working on a project can talk about a project, share ideas, and update each other on progress. This is especially important amongst teams who are working remotely.

  • Faster problem solving: Project collaboration gets rid of annoying email threads and lengthy meetings. It instead replaces it with a way to solve problems instantly and transparently. Not only does this save you team in endless meetings, but it also means problems are solved faster and have less of a chance of derailing the project itself.

  • 💰 Cost-cutting: Project collaboration cuts down on the number of tools, platforms, and even physical spaces your team needs to complete a project. Instead of renting out meeting spaces or using a bunch of different tools to communicate, a good project collaboration process allows your team to communicate and work together digitally using a central platform.

We've talked about easier communication being one of the major benefits of project collaboration, but the truth is it goes beyond that. Project collaboration creates a hub where everything your team needs to deliver a project—from files to instructions and progress updates—are kept under one roof.

As your team can access everything in one place, project collaboration makes them more efficient and gives them an accurate look at a project’s progress.

How one team fixed their information-sharing struggle

One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is sharing information, and YMtech was feeling the strain of not having a centralized access point.

Image of YM-Tech project collaboration

Whether the information was moving from managers to team members, team members to other team members, or team members to clients, crucial information was getting dropped along the way. They knew they needed an easy-to-access central location to swap ideas and updates, as the team was spending too much time repeating the same information or searching for the details they needed.

“Without proper communication, we had a real productivity problem,” the company's founder Yuri Miloslavsky says. 

Conversations and files were everywhere: in emails, messaging apps, or documents, and there wasn’t a lot of consistency about where those were located or when the last update was needed. Keeping collateral together like notes and links to the media was another challenge.

So, YMtech invested in Teamwork. 

Using Teamwork Spaces, YMtech created a central location to store meeting notes and information in a consistent, well-organized format. 

Image of Teamwork Spaces project collaboration

Yuri and his team members can now keep a better record of internal and client-facing discussions and then share them easily. No matter who had the initial contact with the client, Yuri’s follow-up conversations look professional and well prepared.

 “Within our own team, the meeting notes format has helped us move from idea to action really quickly,” Yuri said. 

"Everyone walks out of the meeting knowing exactly what they need to do next."

Using one of the widgets, editors can instantly imbed a Teamwork task list in a document. Yuri uses this feature to give each project more clarity and direction. Choosing Teamwork Spaces as a dedicated content collaboration and information-sharing platform has taken many of the rough edges off communication, both for client-facing and internal exchanges.

“Everything in business changes, whether that’s HR policies, project revisions, development processes, or industry standards. 

The moment you can document it, you can implement and embed that change with all of your stakeholders—that’s progress.”

Top project collaboration tips

Apart from creating a place where your team can collaborate, you can also use some tricks to make sure your project collaboration process is successful. 

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 instead of dragging them into lengthy meetings, you can use project collaboration software to visually manage progress or a messaging channel to do daily stand-ups. For example, you can automate daily stand-up messages in a project’s Slack channel and have your team members respond with what they’re working on:

Image of Team Standup improving project collaboration

Secondly, make sure that project tasks are distributed evenly based on your team's capacity and skillsets. Assigning tasks to team members with the right skill sets is crucial, as it means tasks will be completed correctly. But you should also be careful to make sure that everyone's capacity isn't overloaded. If your team members are overloaded with tasks, you risk tasks being completed late and ultimately—your project being thrown off course. 

Software Engineer Ardy Gallego Dedase says it’s also important for teams to have a dedicated communication channel for your projects. 

“Use this channel to share information like documents and important announcements and to ask questions and share ideas,” he says. 

“It’s best to ask questions about the project in your shared channel and have someone answer it within that thread directly. 

“This allows you to easily share the answer if someone else asks the same question.”

Dedase also suggests making the channel public, so everyone in your company can keep an eye on how each project is progressing, which makes the project collaboration process more transparent. 

“Doing so makes it easier for relevant people to find and join your channel.”

Why you need a collaborative project management software

Here’s the kicker.

Building a successful and productive project collaboration process requires the right toolkit, which is why investing in a collaborative project management software is essential. With online collaboration software, your team can work on projects, problem solve, and share daily progress updates—whether they're in Bali or Boston.

Project collaboration software comes in many forms.

We’ve already mentioned Slack; a messaging channel where you can share files and updates with team members. And you’ve probably used tools like Google Docs and Zoom to coordinate and work on projects with your team in real-time.

The beauty of project collaboration software is that it brings all of the tools you use to work together and plugs them into a centralized location. Think of it as a project motherboard.

GIF Project Collaboration

A project collaboration tool like Teamwork is exactly that: a place where every piece of a project is kept under one roof. Teamwork makes it easier for everyone to see what projects they’re working on, communicate with their team, and plan ahead. You can create Kanban-style boards for every task, and include who is working them, important project files, and due dates in each card:

Image of board view project collaboration

It also has a full suite of tools such as project management, helpdesk, team chat, CRM, and content collaboration so you can work, meet and collaborate with your team members in the same place.

If your team needs a central place to share ideas and look for feedback so you can make collaboration decisions—Teamwork is your project motherboard.

For more details about getting started with a project collaboration tool — check out Teamwork.