The Benefits of Collaboration

From the PMI Global Insights Blog
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The Project Management Institute's annual events attract some of the most renowned and esteemed experts in the industry. In this blog, Global Conference, EMEA Congress and experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Collaboration seems to be a word thrown around quite a bit. But what does it really mean and why do it? How successful is the practice being implemented? And what avenues are there to do so?

Business has been, always, a form of competition - who can make the most, who can do it first, the fastest, who will own the market?

Often big business drives out the small players, seemingly having lower operational costs by pooling corporate resources, moving to more online, complex data management systems and other such strategies. But is it really a better way to do things?

It's definitely not the only way.

One great strategy is to maintain a specialized focus in business, and then pool small complementary companies to work together to accomplish a larger set of goals. Utilize primary project managers to engage the respective teams in the coordination and collaboration efforts, for all activities required to achieve the goal.

When smaller distinct companies collaborate together on a project, they are forced to engage a lot, to understand the big picture, to be clear about each other's roles and responsibilities, and to understand how each groups' work impacts the others.

There is a greater driver for the lead to have done more research at the front end, to really find and approach the most applicable service or technology providers to work together - those who might bring forward the best potential solutions and flexibility to adapt and integrate to meet the needs of others too.

Such teams work together to assess the whole scope of the project together, to identify the best options and approaches to move forward, to challenge each other and identify improvement and optimization opportunities, and to refine the scope and the objectives or targets of a project collectively.

Perhaps because they don't know each other as well, because the lines of accountability need to be more defined, because each groups' distinct approaches need to be fully understood in order to define all of the relevant risks for that project. Or maybe its because, in order to compete with larger firms, these companies are determined to show great value to their clients.

Whatever the reasons, these projects typically have great outcomes - innovative and unique solutions, better performance and reduced costs for the client.

In the realm of practicing collaboration, we have been shifting ever-more into the use of technology - chat tools, databases and common-use spreadsheets of project information, and project management software platforms of various sorts - where everything can be compiled in one space, including emails, chats, reports, gantt charts, and more.

But is the use of technology helping us to collaborate, or just to consolidate information in one place?

In many cases, our reliance on technology is diminishing our abilities, or willingness, to just get in the same room and talk. Over and over again, PM performance reports surface indicating that we still struggle with:

- visibility of what people are working on, and how far along they are in their assigned work,

- finding information within the system, when we need it most, and

- actual communications, whether that be between teams, or within!

At PMI Global, I'll be presenting about several strategies and tools that can be utilized to get back to basics - true, live, communications and collaboration - in the sense of healthy conflict, co-creation and building on each others' knowledge and experiences, to put the best solutions forward. And to reduce the amount of rework that might otherwise need to be done when we haven't worked in this way!

My talk is titled "The Necessary Culture for Soaring Performance" and I am happy to be sharing these strategies with you, to help improve the performance of your own projects!

If you can't make it to my talk, or if you just have some questions about this that you would like to chat about, I'll also be available at the "Ask the Experts" booth - you can book a 1:1 time with me (or others!) to gain some valuable insights!

Happy travels to all that are coming to Chicago, and can't wait to see you all there!

...

Regarding a question asked about collaboration strategies and agreements to help make it happen, I noted I would attach a picture to indicate the span of options... not an easy question to answer, but it does occur, so have faith that it can be done!

image produced by Canada Mining Innovation Council

Posted by Karen Chovan on: October 25, 2017 12:13 PM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Collaboration sounds great until you have to worry about things such as intellectual property, confidentiality, ...

How do you suggest handling such collaboration concerns?

It's amazing what can happen when people simply have a conversation...

Stephane,
This is a great question but not an easy one to answer. The one thing I can say is that there ARE ways to make it happen, and there are many groups out there that help facilitate all of this. Regarding confidentiality, Non-Disclosure Agreements are common, and one of the newest ways of dealing with IP is that one company registers, but there are agreements behind the scenes on how the gains will be distributed or shared should the product come into demand. Often, these collaborations form to address a particular challenge that all parties have, but not necessarily needed by anyone else!

I'll attached at the end of the post, a picture that shows the span of collaboration options out there - this is from a presentation I just saw at the beginning of the month, from an organization I am involved with in the mining space...




Thanks, Karen. I am on a college board and we set up partnership agreements with other colleges for collaboration. We try to to keep them as simple, yet comprehensive, enough so that we won't put each other in untenable positions and, of course, to satisfy the lawyers.

With the percentage of the workforce edging further toward remote workers, collaboration tools and apps will be more important than ever.

Collaboration is the key !

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