While collaboration has always been an important aspect of project management, complex projects and distributed teams have led organizations towards ‘Collaborative Project Management’ as a preferable alternative to traditional project management structures.
The development of customized software like Bitrix24, with tools designed to aid collaboration, makes it easier for businesses to take advantage of the collaborative project management processes.
What is Collaborative Project Management?
It’s a project delivery methodology where, unlike in traditional top-down project management, responsibility and management of planning, execution and delivery tasks are decentralized and shared across your project team.
Adopting this collaborative methodology solves one of the biggest criticisms of the classic project management approach, the requirement that all information and communication flow through a single resource - the project manager.
Features of Collaborative Project Management
Unlike traditional project management with its established formal processes and systems, there’s isn’t yet a standard way to implement collaborative project management.
That said, there are a handful of features common to all successful collaborative project management efforts.
Cross Functional Ownership
Every stakeholder involved in a project has a seat at the table from start to finish. From senior executives to the project manager and other staff members, your entire team contributes to decision making and execution.
Using Bitrix24, your team members have a real time communication tools (whether it’s through instant messaging, video, group chat or even screen sharing conference calls) and are encouraged to contribute and discuss ideas.
With project teams from across functional departments, and increasingly from across geographical boundaries, the real time communications offered by Bitrix24 is essential to effective collaboration.
Complex projects are split into smaller workgroups. Thus, you can have a consolidated view of the whole project, but team members have workspaces where they can collaborate based on their functions, departments or role in the project.
Bitrix24 supports this feature by providing workgroups. It is a virtual community of users where you can use such project management tools as tasks and calendar, communicate via workgroup chat and keep all relevant information in a group document library.
Open & Transparent
Information and data pertinent to the project is accessible to all team members at all times. This includes making documentation available as well as having a centralized location for communication and updates about individual activities.
Because every individual is aware of the project scope and goals, they take collective responsibility for tracking the project’s progress ensuring delivery is on time and on budget.
Bitrix24 facilitates this by having project management tools (e.g. Gantt charts, task dependencies, employee workload management documents, etc.) and a powerful document management system that makes all your files accessible to users of your choice.
Why Collaboration is Better than the Traditional Model
In the traditional top-down project management approach, the lead project manager is at the top of the process and assumes responsibility for the success of the project.
While other team members provide input from the perspective of their specializations, the project manager is in charge of planning out the project, instructing individual team members during its execution and monitoring progress throughout to ensure projects are completed on-time and on-budget.
Even with the most collaborative project manager, this top-down approach restricts cross-team communication and the sharing of ideas. Typically, the traditional approach relies on a collection of outdated tools that mirror its one-to-one and ‘closed’ nature. This causes team members to have tunnel vision by focusing on their own responsibilities without an understanding of how they fit into the grand scheme of the project.
With the changing face of technology, growing use of remote resources (often in completely different geographic locations) and increasingly complex projects, teams that rely on the top-down approach and its associated tools struggle to deliver.
The fast-moving agile approach businesses now adopt on projects requires a team that’s ready to make decisions and respond to both internal and external factors as and when necessary, rather than waiting for directives from a single project manager.
While the specific benefits collaborative project management provides over traditional approach is dependent on the characteristics of individual projects, there are a set of typical benefits you can expect from collaborative project management.
Promotes Team Buy-In
Rather than have team members care about just the tasks they’ve been assigned, collaborative project management forces them to have a vested interested in the entire process. When team members have this level of ownership, they begin to see their own roles within the context of the overall project, which improves their performance.
Bitrix24 provides users with a ‘social network’ within their project management platform. This effectively gives every team member an insight into the goings on of other individuals, reinforcing commitment towards the entire project rather than just a single area of expertise.
Saves Time & Effort
Having the whole team working together and involved in decisions throughout the project lifecycle, you remove the need to spend time and effort creating formal documentation traditionally associated with project management.
Such documentation is often used as a tool for communicating both project requirements and updates. Since collaborative project management forces communication into the open, the documentation is either not needed at all or can accomplish the same goals with a minimal lean version.
Instead of having a handful of team members being responsible for the majority of tasks, the collaborative project management process more efficiently distributes and allocates tasks to those team members with the requisite skills and time available.
Bitrix24 has an inbuilt ‘Employee Workload Management’ tool that makes it incredibly simple to identify and assign tasks to the most appropriate team member. The time tracking and automated monthly reports features take the guesswork out of optimizing your team’s productivity
With its focus on having clear and open lines of communications between all team members, and a centralized location for this communication, collaborative project management makes it easier for your team members to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication.
By providing your team with the easy to use real time communications tools available in Bitrix24, team members will have a single integrated tool that provides them with every form of communication you’d require when working collaboratively.
By giving complete access to data and empowering your employees with ownership, individual team members become emboldened to take on new ideas and develop innovative solutions to problems.
Providing real time communications to team members from different disciplines forces them to challenge their preconceptions and not get stuck in an echo chamber. Bitrix24 offers easy document collaboration, meaning getting feedback from team members or starting a discussion about a piece of work is incredibly simple.
Why You Need The Right Tool
While the benefits of collaborative project management are clear, the execution of a successful collaborative project management strategy has its own obstacles.
It’s unlikely every single member of your team has either formal or informal project management training. There will be a gap in both knowledge and managerial ability between your more experienced team members and the rest.
The growing use of remote teams, often in multiple locations, poses another difficulty. Having geographically displaced team members hinders effective collaboration by making it harder for everyone to have the level of contribution the process requires.
The best way to overcome these and other obstacles is through the use of Bitrix24, built specifically to enhance team collaboration and project management.
With a single platform used for all communication, project management, accessing relevant documentation, and more, it’s significantly easier for your team to foster effective project collaboration.
As our world becomes increasingly connected, effective collaboration isn’t just a project management best practice but a competitive edge.
By adopting an effective collaborative project management approach, your organization will be better placed to deliver successful projects on-time and on-budget.
Complex projects with large teams in different locations are not going anywhere soon. Luckily for you, the right tool to tackle them head on is at your fingertips.
Bitrix24 is a free online project management solution with unlimited projects, tasks and subtasks. It comes with time tracking, task automation workflows, Gantt chart, document management and task collaboration tools, such as group chat and video conferencing. Use promo code TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.
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