Today’s business is increasingly globalised, with companies operating out of multiple offices in different cities or even countries. Remote working has also grown in recent years thanks to the prevalence of mobile devices and the rise of the cloud enabling employees to work as effectively away from the office as they can at the office. This kind of work is well suited to individual employees, but could pose problems for teams that need to work closely together on a project. Project managers need to have oversight of their team at all times and be able to communicate freely with their colleagues; something that might be made difficult by a globally dispersed team.
So what can enterprise cloud collaboration tools do to help?
1. Facilitate communication between team members
It’s vital that your entire team knows what’s going on during all phases of the project, and have the ability to check in and ask questions at any time. Collaboration platforms allow team members to communicate with one another without needing to be in the same room or even the same network. Secure communication can come in the form of blog posts, microblog posts or comments, private messages, or even online meetings and screen sharing.
Using these different modes of communication can enrich a project and mean that team members don’t simply get lost in the flow of email. By choosing the right tool for communicating a message, it is more likely to be received and engaged with, and this works for both remote and local project team members.
For instance, if you write blog posts announcing project news or updates, your team can respond in the comments below. Or you could post a in a microblog or a topic to stimulate discussions or ideas about the project in the comments. Anyone can join the discussion, no matter whether they’re sitting in the office or responding from their tablet on the train.
Similarly, by using online meeting and screen sharing tools you can hold effective meetings with the entire project team without having all the members in the same room.
2. Get your team working collaboratively
There’s a reason you have a project team: different people have different skills that all need to work together to get the project completed. Teams need the ability to work together, and when a team isn’t all in the same place this can make it a bit tricky. But with collaboration software, teams can work together securely online just as easily as if they were in the same room.
Using file sharing capabilities of cloud collaboration software, team members can exchange files securely with colleagues without having to use email, and social tools allow team members to co-edit and work collaboratively on documents in wikis without worrying about duplicate documents or not knowing which version is the most up to date.
Team members can work together simultaneously using online meeting tools, with the ability to show their progress using screen sharing, and project managers can give updates to team members and entire teams can brainstorm ideas together and give updates as a group.
Any information relevant to the project can be stored and held in the form of blog posts. Using tags, it is easy to sort and search for the right information when you or your team needs it. You can attach files, documents, audio and video to blog posts, as well as inserting links to other pieces of content within the collaboration site. It is easy to keep all relevant files together for your team to easily share and access no matter where they are.
3. Make project management easier
It can be challenging to keep track of the progress of a complex project even if your entire team is in one place, and far more issues can arise when teams are dispersed. Many cloud collaboration platforms have in-built project management tools to help with this, like tasks for allocating work out to team members, and events for setting project milestones and coordinating team members and external parties.
Tasks and events can be assigned to individual team members and all of your team will be able to see the major project milestones and the actions that are relevant to them in their own personalised dashboard. This means that you can stay certain that your team members are aware of the progress of the project and what they need to do, no matter where they are.
Another benefit of using collaboration software for project management is that if anyone requires changes during the course of the project, ask them to submit the changes as blog posts, or comment on a blog post. This will help you centralise all of your requests for change and keep track of them in one place. You can post your responses and actions related to the requests. This enables transparency which means that all team members are able to see and approve changes, or contribute suggestions off the back of them.
4. Keep a record of the entire project
It can be difficult to keep track of what has happened in each stage of the project, and especially so when you don’t have your team nearby to fill you in. But when everything is done within the collaboration platform, it stays there, which means that everything can be referred back to later and a record is kept of every communication and decision made. You can even refer to notes from previous projects for guidance, and can easily create a project report when the project is complete.
Maintaining regular progress reports allow you to keep a linear record of each stage of the project. If anything goes wrong, it is easy to refer to progress report blog posts and identify where the issue started. This also allows you to keep an eye out for any patterns that may repeat themselves, so that in the future you might be able to spot a problem before it happens.
Your entire team will have access to this same information too, so even if a team member is located in a different office they will be able to find the guidance notes from a previous project to help them to solve a problem they’re facing, without having to send an email or get on the phone to you.
There are plenty of benefits to using collaborative tools in order to run a project with a remote team; in fact there is no real need for a team to be located in the same office or even the same time-zone any more. The same collaboration tools that help remote project teams stay connected with one another are also helpful to making the project run more easily in general and can greatly improve efficiency and success of projects. Why not give cloud collaboration software a go on your next project?