It looks like collaboration is evolving to be one of “those terms” used everywhere without a lot of context to it. So, in terms of an agile work environment, when we ask: ‘What is collaboration to an agile project manager,’ there are numerous instances of “collaboration” going out of a specific spectrum.
In this post, we will discuss what collaboration is; specifically, what collaboration to an agile manager encapsulates going forward in the year 2024 and how to overcome adversity as a project manager soon.
What is Collaboration?
The essence of collaboration can be summed up as creating digital experiences with our customers, team members, technical resources, and designers towards a product or service.
In addition, while collaborating, we are creating something new at each stage of the implementation of our digital project. This includes the creation of scope, deliverables, test plans, use cases, rollout plans, and training plans, among other things.
The challenge is compounded by the fact that remote collaboration must be carried out despite the obstacles posed by both physical distance and technological limitations.
Role of an Agile Project Manager in Collaboration
In the end, it is the project manager who decides how to proceed with a new collaborative endeavor.
It is a typical error to believe that everyone is aware of what has to be done at the beginning of a collaboration because the individuals involved have worked together in the past.
Therefore, right from the beginning, the manager needs to lay out the ‘end-in-mind’ for the collaborative team and construct an image of success for the group. This should include the following:
- Detailed instructions regarding the expected level of performance from both the individuals and the team
- The amount of effort or contribution that is required
- And the project’s overall strategy and schedule
When all of the people who are working together on a project are aware of what they are expected to do, for whom, by when, and to what standard, they are more likely to be willing and effective participants, which puts the project on the path to a successful finish.
From an agile project manager perspective and current need, we must understand digital collaboration and its levels in the first place.
What exactly does “digital collaboration” entail?
In its basic form, digital collaboration refers to working together and getting things done using digital tools and technology.
It may be something like a tool, an app, software, a technique, a process, or even an entirely new methodology.
Digital Collaboration uses technology to enhance workplace collaboration, communication, document management, content management, and the flow of information throughout the organization. This, in turn, leads to improved employee productivity and efficiency.
The cloud is an essential component of digital collaboration because it enables people to work together in real-time, even though they are spread out over multiple time zones and locations.
Different Levels of Digital Collaboration
It occurs when two or more people converse with each other and share knowledge to improve their positions. It is communication that is not official, and there is little or no decision-making or risk involved.
Each participant is responsible for making their own decisions autonomously, and each person’s responsibilities in the process are only hazily defined.
An excellent illustration of networking is when different department heads come together to talk about the HR efforts that their respective departments are undertaking.
It occurs when individuals support one another’s efforts without a written agreement. Most of the time is spent communicating formally, and decision-making is kept to a minimum.
There is some clarity on the duties, but ultimately each individual is responsible for making their own decisions.
A good example of cooperation is when various teams share resources, such as technical skills and documentation, to accomplish the objectives of their respective projects.
It occurs when individuals are engaged in collaborative projects and endeavors in which they are required to adjust their activities and strategies to achieve a common objective. The roles have been more clearly defined through regular and formal communication.
In addition, there is a component of shared decision-making. However, this aspect is only applicable to the joint task.
The collaboration of the sales and marketing teams toward achieving the shared objective of generating revenue and conversions illustrates coordination in action.
It requires people to work under the terms of a written agreement to achieve a common goal. Their responsibilities have been spelled out, and there is consistent two-way communication.
What’s more, all of the available resources are combined, and decisions are made based on the collective opinion of all engaged people.
Cross-functional teams, in which members with specialized knowledge from various departments work together to achieve a specific objective, are an excellent illustration of comprehensive collaboration.
Types of Collaboration
In the world of business, this is one of the most typical forms of collaboration that can be seen in the workplace. According to this interpretation, all group members are familiar with one another.
Everyone on the team is aware of what their specific function entails and how it influences the others on the team. Specific timelines have been established for the team to accomplish its objectives promptly.
When working together in this manner, it is common practice to have a designated team leader responsible for monitoring everyone else’s performance on the team. The team members work together equally to accomplish their respective jobs.
Likewise, when a project’s tasks are finished according to the plan laid out at the beginning of the work, the entire group is typically given equal credit for achieving the initially outlined objective.
Participants in community collaboration all have a common interest in the project. More often than not, the purpose is not to finish work together but to exchange information and learn from one another.
Concerns raised by community members can be discussed through the exchange of questions and responses. After hearing the advice, the members return to their respective offices to discuss it with the rest of their teams. This is something that is done consistently.
All members of this community collaboration model may be on the same level. On the other hand, more senior members of the group might have a higher social standing than the others.
There is an expectation that members of the group will assist one another when necessary; however, there is not necessarily a one-to-one reciprocation of advice among members.
Collaboration on networks operates differently from the other corporate collaboration described above. It all starts with separate individuals acting in their self-interest and taking action.
They begin contributing to the network to introduce themselves and their specialized knowledge to other community members.
There is a good chance that no one in the network is familiar with one other. They rely on word-of-mouth recommendations to find out who among the members of the network they should be working with.
The tools offered by social media platforms are one example of network collaboration, in which network members work together digitally without necessarily knowing each other in person.
Using a social bookmarking tool, users can provide links to websites they have discovered helpful.
The members of the network who are looking for information on the same subject may find this information beneficial. While working on the issue, that group can post links to useful websites on the network to benefit other network users who might require them later.
Working together using the cloud
Without including cloud collaboration on a list of the various tools for collaboration, the list would be without something important.
Many users can simultaneously read, view, and make document changes through this collaboration. When documents are kept in the cloud, all users who have access to them see the most recent version and can monitor any changes made to the document in real-time.
Collaboration in the cloud is a tool that may be utilized in businesses that require their teams to work together from a distance, such as a business that has multiple branch offices.
Workers in different locations collaborating on the same documents can effortlessly share them without worrying about whether or not they are viewing the most recent version.
Putting your massive files in the cloud is one of the most efficient ways to save them. E-mail servers are only designed to manage files that are a few megabytes or less in size.
If an attachment is that size or larger, the e-mail application will refuse to transmit it after it reaches that threshold. One of the benefits of using a cloud-based collaboration tool is that it does not have the same constraints as other tools and can share files of this size.
The use of video collaboration software is rapidly becoming one of the most prevalent types of online collaboration solutions in use today.
Cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace each come equipped with their version of a meeting room, known as a virtual conference room.
Guests are extended invitations to participate in the conference using their computers or laptops. They can also use a mobile device to participate in the conference.
Most cloud-based services allow visitors to join the call through their web browser; they don’t need to download any software.
Participants in a video collaboration could be in the same workplace, across the street, in a different region, or even on opposite sides.
The team members can communicate with one another in real-time, view the same computer screen as a coworker, and pose inquiries by using the phone, chat, or a customized headset.
Collaboration within the organization (Internal Collaboration)
Internal collaboration can refer to various collaborative tactics, depending on the goals your medium- or large-sized business hopes to accomplish through the process.
Due to their similar appearance, discussion forums, and bulletin boards, have been around for quite some time. They are an efficient method of exchanging thoughts about a specific subject.
When participants are looking for specific information, it might be challenging to search through forums because of the large amount of content contained within them.
The use of microblogging as a method for disseminating company-wide communications can be an efficient approach. A parallel may be drawn between this and the use of Twitter internally.
It is not designed for in-depth conversations but for short messages that get their point through quickly. The team members can initiate debates and engage in them by making their points promptly.
The company’s internal information can be organized and managed by creating a wiki. Multiple contributors can add new information to the articles and maintain them up to date.
For this kind of server application, someone will likely need to check that the information is correct.
Collaboration with Third Parties (External Collaboration)
When considering the many collaboration spaces, you shouldn’t overlook the possibility of working with people outside your organization.
This concept refers to the information exchange between individuals the same firm does not employ. The interaction between a brand and its presence on social media is a good illustration of external cooperation.
When the company uses discussions or quizzes to solicit responses from its followers on social media, it engages in a collaborative activity with those followers.
The responses are studied, and the conclusion is ultimately utilized to determine whether or not the brand is successfully communicating with its audience or whether it needs to adjust its message.
Your organization can establish a “face” for itself through a blog. Customers may find it simpler to ask questions and comment in that arena than directly contacting the company head office with their inquiries and feedback.
These questions and comments pack a significant punch. Take notes on what other people are saying, and try to put their advice into practice whenever it’s possible.
Customers are communicating what they believe, what they desire, and how your organization can continue to earn their business.
A frequent type of collaboration that can be formed between businesses is called a strategic alliance.
In most cases, these collaborations are made between two or more businesses, and they state that those businesses agree to combine their efforts and resources to accomplish particular goals temporarily.
These kinds of company tactics have the potential to be highly successful. Each business participating in the strategic alliance will provide something to the partnership that the others do not have.
A corporation might, for instance, be searching for assistance in expanding into new areas or improving its customer service. In such a scenario, it will search for a business with experience and knowledge in the relevant fields.
Companies that can successfully manage these kinds of collaboration will be deemed “partners of choice” by other businesses wanting to create relationships in the same vein in the business world.
Establishing clear goals, using practical communication skills, and treating others with respect are three of the most crucial factors in any healthy collaboration.
The most effective strategic alliance partners also invest in the persons, resources, and procedures required to accomplish the goals outlined.
Instructions on how to enhance digital collaboration within your organization
Adopt a strategic approach
An excessive number of organizations have the unrealistic expectation that digital collaboration technologies will immediately and effortlessly solve all of their collaboration problems.
You can’t just buy a subscription to a collaboration platform and expect it to streamline all of the issues that arise from collaboration magically. For these tools to be practical, you must implement them strategically.
Develop a strategy for digital cooperation by determining appropriate behavior for digital communication and ensuring that every member of the organization is aware of the protocol.
You should also provide specifics of the various tools used within the company for collaboration and the primary functions served by each tool.
Make use of collaborative tools that won’t get in the way of your work
Suppose you utilize various applications for digital collaboration, such as project management, communication, instant messaging, and video calls. In that case, it is easy for employees to feel overwhelmed and become distracted from their work.
It’s possible that rather than working, your staff will spend most of their time switching between the various collaboration tools you provide them.
You should make use of collaboration solutions that assist employees in managing their work more efficiently while at the same time not impeding their productivity in any way to increase digital collaboration.
It is also advisable to go for systems with centralized notifications, as this will ensure that staff is not overburdened with constant notifications and messages from all over the place.
Establish a central repository where documents can be stored and shared with others
Accessing and sharing documents in real time is a significant component of digital collaboration. Suppose you do not have a central location to store all the information about your work. In that case, you will waste a lot of time locating the appropriate versions of your most important files.
Further, when team members do not have access to the same versions of the files, it can lead to confusion and significantly impact the job.
You can ensure that everyone on the team has access to the appropriate data and file versions they need to have by establishing a central repository for the storage of all documents and files. This will allow everyone to manage their work efficiently.
Be sure to keep track of the various time zone differences
When working in a global firm, digital collaboration involves working with team members in many places and across multiple time zones.
To make digital collaboration more efficient, you need to be aware of the various time zone differences and locate times during the day when all team members can assemble for conversations simultaneously.
To begin, make a list of the team members’ time zones and working hours.
Next, look for overlapping times when everyone on the team is available to schedule meetings.
How to mark out the impact of digital collaboration
Acquire an understanding of the issues
Your digital collaboration strategy will only have a discernible influence on your business collaboration if it can alleviate some of the challenges you face at work and streamline your procedures.
When you introduce a new technology or tool for collaboration, you need to make sure that you understand what problems the tool or technology is attempting to answer and whether or not it can solve any of the difficulties your employees encounter.
Keep an eye out for signs of technology burnout
Make it a routine to inquire regularly about the collaborative tools your staff members use. Make it a habit.
Employees can get technology fatigue if they are required to utilize many tools, making it more challenging to catch up and remain on top of things.
You would essentially be putting a lot of money into new and advanced tools to see digital collaboration decrease in the team.
The goal is to minimize the number of collaboration tools your team utilizes to a minimum as much as possible so that the team members can concentrate more on the work they are supposed to be doing and spend less time switching between the various tools.
Define your KPIs
You will not be able to get an accurate measurement of the success of digital collaboration if you do not have a clear idea of what constitutes optimal collaboration for your firm.
Because of this, you need to choose the primary KPIs for digital collaboration and establish benchmarks for engagement levels for each quarter.
After that, you can use these metrics to assess the level of collaboration across the various teams that comprise the organization.
When assessing the level of digital collaboration, it is essential not to place too much weight on the number of hours employees spend using collaboration tools or the number of messages they send to their coworkers. You won’t be able to see their real value in that context.
Instead, you should concentrate on how successfully team members work together, how frequently they contact one another to figure out problems, and how much time they devote to in-depth work.
Where you will see the genuine benefit of digital collaboration is in the increase in productivity and efficiency, the decrease in bottlenecks, and the reduction in miscommunication.