Collaboration is fast becoming the difference between success and failure in the workplace.
So, what are the key aspects of good collaboration that you need to adhere to? This blog post will explain these in detail, which should help you to avoid future collaboration failures with both your internal and external stakeholders.
Set clear goals
Although setting goals is often talked about as important, rarely are they put into practice. A Havard Business study found that:
- 83% of the population does not have goals
- 14% have a plan in mind, but are unwritten goals
- 3% have goals written down
So why is it so important to have clear goals? If you’re collaborating with a large number of different people, they will all have their own objectives to meet, whether organisational or project related. If their focus is solely on these, they may overlook your project’s main objective.
What you want to try and do, is ensure that everyone is working towards the same common goal. Not an easy task I know!
You should make this clear at the beginning of the project and use it as a way of keeping everyone on track when they're working closely together.
An easy way to do this is by creating SMART goals. These can help to clarify everyone’s ideas, focus their efforts, use their time and resources productively, and increase the chances of achieving your targets.
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive
It goes without saying, that you can’t expect to collaborate with stakeholders effectively without having a fool-proof project communication plan in place.
There are also financial implications. The PMI, (Project Management Institute) has stated that 56% of money spent on a project is at risk due to ineffective communications.
When formulating your plan, you should take into consideration:
- What information needs to be shared? – High level executives will need different information to your team members for example.
- How often should it be shared? – Do stakeholders need daily, weekly or monthly updates? Or none at all?
- How will it be communicated? – You might use email or even basic file sharing software, but in reality, collaborating in the cloud is now the way forward for internal and external co-working.
Once you have answers to these questions, you can then assess whether there are any barriers that might be stopping you from collaborating. For example, some or all of your stakeholders might be based remotely and don’t have access to your organisation’s shared drive.
In most organisations, it is important to have a hierarchy in place as it creates a sense of authority, unity and accountability.
This is even more important when managing projects. There is no good creating an environment for effective collaboration, without having someone there who can take responsibility for each decision.
To avoid confusion, it is best to clearly state responsibilities at the start of your project. One way in which you can do this is to use the RACI (Responsibility Assignment) matrix. This involves you identifying who is:
- Responsible - The person who is responsible for actually completing the task.
- Accountable – The person who is accountable for the correct completion of the task.
- Consulted – Communicated with regarding decisions and tasks.
- Informed – Who will be updated on decisions and actions during the project.
Project Smart has put together step-by-step instructions to help you get started:
Only once the roles and tasks have been clearly defined can people collaborate together to meet common goals.
Use online collaboration software
There was a time when collaborating with internal and external stakeholders was just a case or picking up the phone, arranging a meeting or sending an email.
Times are changing however. With email now seen as a big disadvantage for organisations and business travel representing 50% or more of an organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions, the time has come to look at solutions that satisfy security requirements and avoids harming the environment.
The solution is simple – online collaboration software. From transforming shared services between local authorities to quick deployments for projects, the platform is designed perfectly to enable collaboration.
Functionality such as surveys, forums, and shared calendars, allow you and your stakeholders to collaborate together when you need to in a highly secure environment. Perfect for organisations that share sensitive data and need to adhere to the upcoming GDPR regulations.