The future of work for project teams

The Future of Work for Project Teams

Use Social Task Management Tools for Better Project Collaboration

In today’s project-driven work environment, collaborating is a way of life. Whether on a team of 5 or 25, most agree that the project manager job is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all role.

Appleseed Partners polled 200 professionals based in North America who manage and participate in projects and found nearly 30 percent are “accidental project managers.” A more startling and perhaps relatable fact – 62 percent of those who manage projects (even if it is not their primary role) are uncertified. That’s a good majority.

The very nature of modern teams is driving this phenomenon. In our global 24/7 economy, collaborating daily with geographically dispersed colleagues mean teams fall back on outdated tools to keep up with status, tasks, and documents. What does the future of work look like? And how do modern teams adapt?

Modern Project Management and Collaboration Tools vs Tools of Yesteryear

When trying to set goals, create a plan, track progress, share documents, and monitor progress, the project management tools of yesteryear can have a big impact on both morale and the bottom-line. Of those surveyed, email ranked as the top collaboration hurdle (42 percent) followed closely by lack of access to information (40 percent) and low visibility into workload (39 percent).

According to Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principle analyst, Constellation Research, modern teams want adaptable solutions that are closely related to enterprise social networking platforms such as social task management (STM). Used for decades, traditional tools like email lack the collaborative features that are common in today’s social networking era.

In Alan’s report, Getting Work Done with Social Task Management, he talks about how legacy tools come with major shortcomings like (and I 100% agree):

    • Top-down choke points – A single person can quickly become the bottleneck, inhibiting the flow of critical information for effective decision making.
    • Information silos – When project members can’t easily see what others are working on, efforts get duplicated, poor decisions are made, and productivity is lost.
    • Limited collaboration – Traditional project management solutions lack integrated social networking features and content creation tools mean people fall back on less collaborative forms of communication like email.
    • Loss of context – When team members can’t link conversations about the work to the actual work documents, too much time is wasted searching for context.

Alan also points out, that highly desired solutions are those that support popular social networking features, such as activity streams, inline commenting, embedded media, liking, and sharing. I agree and have validated that with customers and prospects from around the globe.

In addition, STM and project collaboration allow project members to not only organize their tasks, but collaborate on assignments within the project’s context. Here’s short summary of Alan’s comparison between STM tools and traditional tools and processes:

    • Project membership – Instead of a project manager tracking members and creating a list in the project plan with a separate directory tool, a shared workspace provides visibility into who is working on what. It’s easy to tell which tasks need attention so fewer meetings are needed to determine project status.
    • Task assignment and tracking – Tasks are no longer tracked in a project plan or spreadsheet, but are updated in the shared workspace and visible to all. Allowing project members to update their own status empowers everyone to feel like part of the team – which goes back to morale.
    • Notification/communication – No more disjointed, awkward email conversations buried in your inbox. Activity streams can show all events taking place in a project as conversations linked to tasks. Teams can stop wasting time searching (in email or other legacy tools) for the information they need to move forward.
    • Content collaboration – Instead of using a variety of tools and multiple document versions, files (including rich media) can be easily shared within the project workspace. This helps everyone stay focused and productive with less back and forth between multiple tools.

These points are validated by the recent survey conducted by Appleseed where 43 percent expressed an over-arching need for an all-in-one online solution. In a perfect world, this would include document sharing with version control and iteration to keep track of actions. Project members would be able to view, organize, and share content from multiple devices – anytime and from anywhere.

Another must-have would include project planning, scheduling, charting, and milestone tracking. With Kanban boards and Gantt charts, work could be kept on track with goal-driven planning with a social approach. Workload visualization and a project dashboard would make it easy to track a project’s progress, status, and performance.

When it’s time to get work done, most agree that the tools and processes being used today lack the common collaborative features found in enterprise social networking platforms. Embracing STM / project collaboration approach will ultimately make is easier for modern teams to organize, prioritize, communicate, and collaborate – making the future of work more manageable and efficient for today’s modern teams.

For more information on this subject, I invite you to listen to a webinar I am hosting it with Alan Lepofsky. During Webinar: The Future of Work is Here we will discuss Alan’s paper Getting Things Done with Social Task Management and the tools that bring together the best of project management and collaboration to empower people to get work done together more effectively.

Reference: Lepofsky, A. (2012). Getting Work Done With Social Task Management. Constellation Research.

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