Collaborative project management describes the cooperation of different actors in a shared project. Currently, it is no longer only about the cooperation of employees within a team or company, but also about working together across great distances.
Digitalization is making it increasingly common, for example, to involve freelancers in projects. And even employees in their own company are often not always personally present. So it is unavoidable to deal with effective project management tools that make such cooperation much easier. We will introduce you to the forms of collaborative project management and explain the opportunities and risks they present for you.
What is collaborative project management?
Collaborative project management is a method to better plan, control and coordinate complex projects. The basic idea is the cooperation of project teams across company and country borders. These project teams must be networked for successful management.
There are countless tools for different purposes that you can use in parallel. In addition to classic software, cloud-based solutions in particular have established themselves in the meantime. Solutions from the cloud offer considerable advantages, especially when working remotely or involving external employees. Examples of the benefits of project management solutions are the creation of course or text material, the coordination of deadlines, the subdivision of work steps or the division of tasks. You can coordinate all areas of a project more efficiently with tools such as Google Docs, Slack or Plan IO. You can find both paid and free project management tools on the market.
In spite of their diverse application possibilities and different range of functions, the tools have the following things in common:
- More transparency in teamwork
- Project coordination despite geographical distance
- Better communication
- Ongoing updating of information
- More time efficiency
- All employees at the same level
- More personal responsibility and self-organisation in the division of tasks
When working on projects in the cloud, it is very important to be mindful of the shift to digital communication. The lack of gestures, facial expressions and audible language can lead to misunderstandings. For this reason, the team should work together as much as possible to define the rules employees want to follow for communication in chats and apps. It is equally important that everyone can address problems and conflicts openly.
In addition, all project participants must ensure sufficient data backup so that no sensitive information can escape or even get lost.
Types and risks of collaborative project management
You can use collaborative project management sensibly within a team or a company on the one hand and on the other hand involve employees at a great distance. This aspect usually refers to cooperation with freelancers who may not even be personally known to the company. Advantages that result from such a cooperation are:
- More flexibility
- Short-term support
- Lower costs
- Technical expertise
For companies, it can be cheaper in the long run to temporarily use professional experts than to fill a vacancy. This allows the company to cover its needs flexibly in terms of time. The cooperation with freelancers for so-called micro jobs is particularly advantageous. These are smaller tasks or subtasks of a project that are delegated to freelancers. These can be texts, research or the design of a graphic, for which however only a small expenditure of time of a few hours is necessary. By passing on subtasks to freelancers, permanent employees have more time to focus on their core business and the project at hand. Nevertheless, the cooperation with freelancers also has some disadvantages.
- Freelancers are not familiar with the company values / code of conduct
- Consistent quality is not always guaranteed
- You have to invest time in the task delegation (briefing)
You can compensate for some of these disadvantages by planning and using PM tools with foresight. Planning and communication are most important here. Working with freelancers can give you a time advantage, but at the same time you should install a safety buffer and not set the timeline too tight. You should always plan for possible times for adjustments or revisions.
The Best Tools and Apps for Collaborative Project Management
Which tool is suitable for which type of project management depends on a number of factors:
- Company size
- Planning needs
- Type of project
At this point we would like to introduce you to some tools that you can use in parallel or individually. However, the market has many more applications to offer. Therefore it is worth researching, so that you find the optimal tool for your respective project.
Google Drive is a file hosting service that enables you and your team to access and edit documents from anywhere in the world. This makes it the ideal tool when it comes to text creation or document exchange. All participants can obtain access authorization and edit the corresponding documents together. This ensures that the document is always up-to-date and that no corrections are passed on. Corrections are made and documented directly in the text. The comment function also facilitates the exchange of information in the event of comprehension questions. In addition to Google Docs for text creation, the software package also offers sheets, slides and forms.
Plan IO is a tool for task management within a team with assigned roles. By clearly assigning tasks and roles, you can plan workflows and increase the productivity of your project. The project manager becomes the administrator and can assign the individual tasks to the project participants. This creates transparency for all involved. There is also a background center where employees can store information and make agreements in forums. This project management software is suitable for both classic projects and agile project management.
Liquidplanner is a dynamic project management software for modern companies. It offers milestones of classical project management, such as time recording, analysis tools and task distribution. In addition to task prioritization and resource allocation overview, this PM software also provides risk assessment. Results are visualized on dashboards so that they can be easily shared with stakeholders. This makes the Liquidplanner a particularly comprehensive tool that comes very close to analog project management, but can increase your efficiency.
- Apple iWork
- Facebook Workplace
Each software has its own strengths and weaknesses, is more or less comprehensive and better or less suitable for teams and companies of different sizes. Therefore it is necessary to have a close look at the products and to research them thoroughly. Many cloud solutions have free versions or you can try them for free. Be sure to make use of them. After these considerations, there is nothing to stop efficient and well-organized project management.