Mind the gap! If you’re like most project managers, you’ve probably identified a gulf between where your team’s project collaboration is now and where you want to be. It’s time to shake things up. In this blog post, you’ll get answers to your most pressing questions about project collaboration – and how to make it a success. You’ll also learn how to help your team work better together at every stage of the project.
- What Is the Most Important Factor in Successful Project Collaboration?
- What Is the Biggest Threat to Successful Project Collaboration?
- Is Collaborative Project Management the Solution?
- Are Collaborative Project Management and Project Collaboration the Same Thing?
- How Can Collaborative Project Management Benefit Your Team?
- Is There Still a Need for a Project Leader in Collaborative Project Management?
- Which Tools Best Support Collaborative Project Management?
- Project Planning: What Do You Need in Advance?
- Project Documentation: How Can You Keep Information Flowing?
- Project Implementation: How Do You Reach Your Goals and Learn From the Results?
1. What Is the Most Important Factor in Successful Project Collaboration?
From the start of your project to the end, good communication is essential for successful collaboration. Author and management consultant Simon Sinek identifies two fundamental rules that every project team should keep in mind:
- Goals, roles, and responsibilities must be crystal clear for all participants.
- Self-serving behavior is a no-go. Teamwork is essential to achieving goals.
Clarity and cohesion keep project members motivated, and shared values help you to work together successfully in the long term.
Ultimately, if you care about the success of others, they will want to work with you. It’s that simple.
2. What Is the Biggest Threat to Successful Project Collaboration?
65% of projects fail due to poor cross-departmental collaboration. Experts cite miscommunication as the main threat to good project collaboration. This is because it negatively impacts project planning and resource and conflict management. When team members working on the same project:
- are from different teams
- are spread across locations and time zones
- have conflicting or misaligned goals and priorities
- are working in separate documents,
exchanges become difficult, which leads to misunderstandings. This, in turn, can delay project progress – and zap productivity.
A chicken would identify conflicting goals as the main problem here.
Why? Because, as in project collaboration, laying eggs is about one thing: productivity. But if you compare productive “super chickens” to average chickens, the super chickens – with their elevated levels of aggression – end up pecking each other to death. Average chickens do not…
The takeaway: excessive competition harms the group. If you want team project collaboration to work, don’t let your organization become a super-chicken breeding station. Don’t prioritize individual success – promote and celebrate the team’s success. The best way to do that? It might just be collaborative project management.
3. Is Collaborative Project Management the Solution?
When communication is both the problem and the solution, it should be at the heart of your strategy. Enter collaborative project management: a method to efficiently plan, coordinate and manage complex projects as a distributed team.
Get everyone involved. When team members share their perspectives and ideas, innovation flourishes and decision-making improves.
Get everyone involved. When team members share their perspectives and ideas, innovation flourishes and decision-making improves.
Collaborative project management is different from:
- Classic project management. In the Waterfall Method, decisions are made top-down. In collaborative project management, all participants are involved in the decision-making process. As a result, all employees have a high degree of personal responsibility.
- Agile project management. Although it’s not the same as Agile project management, collaborative project management often follows Agile principles. Stages within a project are worked on simultaneously, and improvements can be made throughout the process (not just at the end).
4. Are Collaborative Project Management and Project Collaboration the Same Thing?
The terms “collaborative project management” and “project collaboration” are often used to mean the same thing. However, they are different – just as travel planning is different from travel itself. Good project management (travel planning) often leads to seamless project collaboration (travel).
- Collaborative project management: This is about organizing. The team collaboratively establishes workflows and goals to execute the project from A to Z. It takes into account resource and time constraints.
- Project collaboration: This is about cooperating. The team determines how they will work together to complete tasks and achieve goals.
Keep project management and team project collaboration connected. The way you organize your projects will improve collaboration, and vice versa. Pro tip: Use a tool that brings the two practices together.
5. How Can Collaborative Project Management Benefit Your Team?
In the 1990s, automotive companies were the first to trial collective project management. Institutions such as BMW, Daimler and Porsche are prime examples of how well this methodology can work.
Today, collaborative project management is the go-to method for many industries and teams. When done right, it helps you:
- Increase productivity.
- Communicate more efficiently.
- Solve problems faster.
- Save costs.
We’ll dive into more details about the benefits in a moment. But first, let’s consider an important question:
6. Is There Still a Need for a Project Leader in Collaborative Project Management?
If you usually lead projects in your organization, but your company is shifting to collaborative project management, you may be asking, “Do these changes make me redundant?”. That’s because collaborative project management goes hand-in-hand with Agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban, which don’t support traditional leadership roles.
However, the answer is no. You are not redundant as a project leader – you just need to adapt (or “wear a different hat”). The classic leadership style – which focuses on top-down decision-making – doesn’t work in collaborative, Agile project management. Team members need autonomy and decision-making power to work productively.
So what does that mean for you?
- In a Scrum context, you divide leadership responsibilities. You make the person with the most project know-how in the team the product owner – and you become the Scrum Master. You lead less and “serve” more, both as a moderator and facilitator.
- In a Kanban context, all tasks are role and permission-based. As Project Administrator, you control and coordinate project workflows. You set processes in motion – and then let things run as they should within the team.
As an Agile Project Manager, you lead by
- Establishing the right frameworks.
- Moderating workflows.
- Contributing ideas and suggestions.
- Protecting your team from external disturbances.
- Clearing obstacles to productivity.
The shift to Agile, collaborative project management can be disruptive – particularly in traditional industries like banking. Read how Volksbank Raiffeisenbank Würzburg navigated this change smoothly.
7. Which Tools Best Support Collaborative Project Management?
MeisterTask + MeisterNote is popular with project managers, but…
What should you look for when choosing project collaboration tools?
There are so many tools on the market that promise to deliver great value … but ultimately just lead to greater costs. So which tools really help you recoup your project management investment?
- A task management tool with documentation functionality. Project management is easier when your task management software supports both a full project overview and a focus on task details and progress.
- An instant messaging tool. No emails, please. Use a messaging tool like Slack to discuss and clarify information in a single, centralized location. This makes it easier to start and follow conversations.
Your tools should make collaboration easier for team members, managers, leaders – everyone! If they’re easy and safe to use, your team will not only work with the tools – the tools will work for them. You get back the money you invested threefold.
- You save time. Your team can get started right away – no training needed. Find out how processline were able to save 1 hour of work per day with the right tools.
- You save money. With fewer security risks and improved communication flows, you’re more productive in the long run – take it from Felix Schoeller, who reduced meetings by 50%.
- You save resources. High software acceptance in the team means faster, easier collaboration for everyone. VERWO AG was able to cut weekly emails by 50%.
There are many task and project management tools on the market. This blog post on Trello alternatives will help you to decide which one is right for you.
Next, we’ll look at event organization as an example to see how project members, managers and stakeholders can handle every project phase successfully. You’ll find out exactly what you need before, during and after project execution.
8. Project Planning: What Do You Need in Advance?
Let’s say you are planning a company summer party with Sarah in Berlin and Lukas in Vienna. You have a globally distributed team, and the party is an opportunity to bring everyone together. You want this party to go down in history – for the right reasons. So, how do you go about it?
Before the project starts, you need a goal, a clear plan, and defined roles for your project team. Everyone needs to know who is to organize what and by when.
- Keep goals and objectives realistic. Venue in Hawaii, DJ from New York, party in 2 weeks? Stay realistic, or there won’t be a party at all.
- Clearly define and document plans. When you work with Sarah from Berlin in the same event planning document, you both have an up-to-date view of what’s been done and what is still to do.
- Clearly communicate roles and responsibilities. For example, if everyone knows Lukas is responsible for the final catering decision and Sarah is in charge of finding a DJ, duplicate work is avoided.
Structure project information clearly and save 2 hours of searching through documentation per day.
How Does MeisterTask Improve Project Management Before the Project Kick-Off?
Take the stress out of project planning by following these best practices.
With MeisterTask + MeisterNote, you can simplify your team’s project planning in three ways:
- Plan centrally. With MeisterNote, which is included for free in every MeisterTask license, you have a central space to create and develop plans with your team. Goals are clear for every team member as they are documented centrally and transparently. Luke knows what Sarah’s role is, what she’s responsible for, and what she’s working on when.
- Share easily. Not only you, Lukas and Sarah, but also the external event agency you’re working with, can easily access the project roadmap at any time. You can invite people inside and outside of your team to your Notes – without the risk of other Notes being shared or accessed unintentionally.
- Implement tasks quickly. Lukas and Sarah create actionable tasks in MeisterTask from their plans in MeisterNote in just one click. With their documentation and task management seamlessly connected, they can put their plans into motion faster.
9. Project Documentation: How Can You Keep Information Flowing?
Information silos can throw the best-laid plans into chaos. That’s why you, along with Lukas and Sarah, want to ensure your project is transparent, structured, and properly documented.
For a clear and accessible project overview, use simple and intuitive tools that connect your documentation to your project execution.
- Task management and documentation tool: Create clear, concise project notes in one central place to give all stakeholders the bigger picture of your project. Then, communicate the finer details directly in the individual tasks. This way, everyone can find the information they need easily and quickly. To go back to our example: keep the event plan and the catering updates in the same place – and always reference the respective actionable project tasks in your notes. When stakeholders want to find out anything about your project, this will be the first place they look.
- Instant messaging tool: Have a basic but urgent question for Sarah? Write her a short message on an instant messaging tool like Slack. Include a link to the relevant section of the note or task your question relates to. That way, Sarah can leave a comment with the answer there and then, keeping everyone on the same page.
Structure your project documentation so everyone on the team can see who is doing what and when. This could save your team up to 5 hours a week.
How Does MeisterTask Help Improve Communication Within Your Project Team?
Create actionable Tasks directly from your Notes with MeisterTask + MeisterNote.
MeisterTask + MeisterNote helps you to simplify communication within your project team. Here’s how:
- Real-time updates. With real-time updates, you, Lukas and Sarah are always up to date. In the MeisterTask task, you can see who will decide which catering company to use and by when. In MeisterNote, you can find the reasons for the decision and the expected outcome.
- A logical structure. Lukas embeds the catering offer and location photos into the Note in MeisterNote. A link to this Note in the correlating Task provides all the context needed. As a result, you know exactly what’s going on.
- Tasks and documentation – connected. With MeisterTask + MeisterNote, Sarah and Lukas cut unnecessary steps from their workflow. For example, Sarah can create a Task for Lukas directly from the meeting minutes – without leaving the Note.
Financial consulting firm zeb uses MeisterTask’s communication features to keep teams in the loop. Find out more here.
10. Project Implementation: How Do You Reach Your Goals and Learn From the Results?
Now that you’ve nailed the planning phase, follow these six steps to make the next phase a success:
- Set up the project in MeisterTask: Visualize the documented project workflow in a Kanban board with columns for “Planning,” “In Progress,” and “Completed.”
- Invite the project team: Send an invite to everyone executing the project. Invite external stakeholders as guests to keep communication transparent for everyone.
- Create Tasks: Create a Task on the board for every job that needs to be done. Set up automations for recurring tasks.
- Maintain momentum: Integrate all the tools your team needs to succeed and use WIP limits to keep workloads under control.
- Turn to-dos into “dones”: With centralized communication, comments, and mentions, your team can progress quickly and meet their deadlines..
- Pull quick reports: Generate a quick report with preset filters. For example, you can use quick reports for an overview of all open and completed project Tasks.
Keep your management team happy by limiting the emails you send them. After all, they already spend 2.5 hours per day managing their chaotic inbox. Invite them to view and collaborate on your project documentation instead. This way, they can easily maintain an overview and track whether goals are being met.
How Does MeisterTask Help To Improve Project Implementation?
Connected software means less stress – and more success.
With MeisterTask + MeisterNote, everything is done and documented, so you can sit back and enjoy the party with your team.
- Tracking progress from project kick-off to completion. With updates continuously communicated via notifications and mentions, your stakeholders never miss a thing.
- Final project report and retrospective. You already shared regular reports with your project stakeholders. Now you can use these as a basis for your retrospective meeting.
- Applying your learnings. You and your team can document and apply the insights you’ve gained to your future projects.
atempo increased their productivity by 100% by managing their projects in MeisterTask. Find out how they did it here.
Now you have these practical tips up your sleeve, your next project is already on track to success. Remember, structure, transparency and clear communication go a long way. And when you have the right tools to help you achieve those things, great results are well within reach. Good luck!
What Is Collaborative Project Management?
Collaborative project management is a method to efficiently plan, coordinate and control complex projects with multiple stakeholders, often across different locations and time zones.
What Is the Biggest Threat to Successful Project Collaboration?
Miscommunication is the biggest threat to successful project collaboration as it negatively impacts project planning, as well as resource and conflict management. To prevent power struggles, don’t prioritize individual success – promote and celebrate the success of the whole team.
How Do You Ensure Project Collaboration Goes Smoothly?
Pay attention to what and how your team communicates before, during, and after project collaboration. Never lose sight of:
- Goals, roles and responsibilities.
- Thinking and acting as a team.
How Do You Best Resolve Conflicts Between Project Team Members?
The best way to resolve tension in a collaborative project setting is to follow the 4 steps of Nonviolent Communication:
- Observe. Describe the conflict in a non-judgmental way.
- Identify your feelings. Express your feelings in I-messages.
- Acknowledge your needs. Explore the unmet needs behind your feelings.
- Make a request. Calmly ask for a specific action so that your needs are met.