Interview with Maureen Carlson, study leader
Questions Jason asks Maureen:
- Jason:What did you learn about the characteristics and makeup of teams that have to collaborate to get things done at their companies?
Maureen: It’s interesting, more than 60% of people are leading or participating in teams of 6 to more than 15 people, and another 12% collaborate with up to 20 people on projects. These people are not necessarily project management certified, in fact, more than 70% are not certified and more than a quarter don’t have the official title of “project manager”; but are managing or participating in projects every day to produce work. We’ve casually labeled the individuals as the “accidental” project managers which I think can relate to.
Overwhelmingly, these collaborators are also virtual or extended teams. The research revealed that 70% of project collaboration is with both internal and external (contractors, consultants, agencies, and customers) beyond the firewall or outside their company. These teams work cross-functionally (38%) and more than a third are geographically dispersed. This is evidence that modern teams are truly distributed in nature and at the tipping point of needing a tool that supports a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
- What do they see as their top project collaboration hurdles and what impact do these challenges have on them and their business?
Right now, collaboration isn’t easy. It’s often unorganized resulting in missed deadlines and productivity gains. In fact, 42% say relying on email is their top collaboration hurdle, followed by making project information easily accessible to all members (40%); and understanding who is available and who is in overload (39%).
Today’s modern project is relying heavily on email to share documents and to understand project status. In fact, 73% of participants said that email is their primary collaboration tool, followed by using spreadsheets (62%) and the phone (53%). These methods are antiquated for the task at hand. They don’t provide any way to answer their top needs which include: Active and ongoing communication to keep everyone on the same page; Seeing progress and status of work, Share documents effectively, Working with external participants, Visibility into who is available for the next project.
The business suffers as a result in terms of inefficiency and hits to productivity. U.S. respondents said that they waste 7 hours per week due to project collaboration hurdles. That adds up fast, do the math and that is 350 hours per year or two full months! Moreover, they risk not meeting business goals and timelines (34%) that may have a broader business impact.
- You said they rely on email as their primary tool but what do they think is really important to collaborate in a modern work environment?
The research shows that project teams that need to collaborate are trying a variety of tools (ex. Google Drive, cloud drives etc.) but the majority reported are disparate and partial solutions. Project collaborators said that the most important for collaboration (equally weighted around at about 44%) include document sharing (version control and iteration), project planning and scheduling (Gantt charting), workload visualization, an all-in-one collaboration solution (not separate tools), and a dashboard to track multiple projects.
The results indicate that each of these tasks or capabilities on their own are interesting, but incorporating the functionality into an all-in-one solution is the panacea. Collaborators currently rely on an average of 4.5 tools today and that may hold back potential efficiency gains.
Jason: Thank you Maureen. It sounds like the bottom-line is that today’s teams are using the wrong toolsets for collaboration. It’s holding back team efficiency, creating frustration and leading to duplication of effort. It’s time for project collaborators and accidental project managers to find harmony in a place that they can all collaborate, complete and track tasks and visualize work. That place is Projectplace.
All statistics are based on an independent North America Survey of 200 business project collaborators conducted by Appleseed Partners and commissioned by Planview.