As a technology solution provider, collaborating with those around us is key to a successful project. We rarely work in a vacuum or a silo and are usually integrated with and dependent on various teams. We may rely on them for technical specs, requirements, QA, or backend integration, all ingredients for the successful delivery of a project.
To be as effective as possible, we need to be able to work seamlessly alongside various teams throughout our own and the client’s organization.
Here are 4 key elements of successful collaboration:
- Effective communication
- Empowering working environment
- Utilizing the right tools
- Continuous interaction
Communication can be easy, but effective communication is often challenging. Effective communication is so much more than just sending information to other teams. It is the exchange of ideas, knowledge, information, and opinions.
This includes listening to feedback from those around us, having conversations and incorporating that into the project. Respect different perspectives, be curious and encourage others. Look for ways to be better and help those around us to do the same.
This positive exchange of ideas can promote a positive environment and get the very best output.
Empowering Working Environment
One of the worst qualities a team can possess is the feeling of everything being a transaction. Where orders or tasks are handed out with minimal engagement. This will discourage communication, feedback, the sharing of ideas, and ultimately better ideas.
To maximize our team’s potential, we should encourage them to leverage their individual strengths and provide opportunities for them to share their innovative ideas and suggestions. When a team is empowered in this way, they are motivated to bring out the best in themselves and each other. As leaders, when we empower our teams in this manner, we create an environment that inspires excellence and fosters collaboration, allowing everyone to reach their full potential.
When teams feel empowered, they produce better ideas which ultimately leads to a better product.
Utilizing The Right Tools
A part of successful collaboration is utilizing the right tools. Let’s start with sharing documentation. In the old days, we might have created Word and Excel documents on our computers and emailed them to each other.
Fortunately, we have so many tools at our disposal now which allow us effectively share information and communicate in real-time.
A couple of the most common tools for sharing documentation (but certainly not the only ones) are Atlassian’s Confluence and Microsoft SharePoint. These are great solutions for creating and maintaining project documentation in a centralized location. Gone are the days of keeping everything on our local computers. Sharing information helps break down or prevent silos within the project.
In the old days, we would send an email and wait for a response, or call someone, or we would send an email and then call the recipient to tell them about it. Now we can communicate in real-time, with less disruption. A couple of the more widely used chat tools are Microsoft Teams and Slack. But they both do more than chat they now both support video and audio chat and integrate with solutions like Confluence, SharePoint, Jenkins, and others.
Chats can be organized by channel or topic, and conversations or threads and be kept together. It allows for real-time responses for things that are urgent.
When it comes to tracking the actual work and deliverables, one of the more popular solutions is Atlassian’s Jira. This is a great solution to intake requirements and work and breaks it down into actionable pieces for the various delivery teams. It allows teams to collaborate on tasks, document and understand the requirements, and hand off work as it progresses to production.
Continuous interaction does not mean setting up so many meetings that progress is impacted. But it does mean setting up a daily effective meeting between stakeholders and key project members will help facilitate effective communication.
It will also ensure requirements are discussed, communicated, and understood throughout the product or feature lifecycle. It allows for requirements to be clarified and work to be prioritized or reprioritized.
Facilitating continuous integration and effective communication can reduce unplanned meetings, scope creep, bugs, or product delays. It also keeps everyone on the project engaged and informed. No one wants to feel like they are being left out in the dark, or working from old or outdated information and requirements.
Another less technical but no less important part of continuous interaction is providing positive and constructive feedback along the way. Recognizing someone’s excellent work can go a long way. It encourages not only the recipient but everyone around them.
Every project is different and will have its own challenges. Some have a shorter timeline than others. Whether you are working on a 3-month project or a 2-year project… it is important to collaborate with everyone on the project.
By following these guidelines, you will help the project be successful and positive, which will in turn make it more fun. And a project which is both successful and fun is the kind people want to be on.