Working with others on collaborative projects can lead to accidental mistakes among team members, including:
- miscommunicated goals
- misunderstood responsibilities
- mismanaged time or workflow
- multiple people doing the same job without realizing it
- tasks or deliverables “falling through the cracks”
In this post, we’ll talk about ways to avoid these kinds of traps, and offer tips to make your collaborative projects less time consuming, more efficient, and more productive.
Start on the Same Page
It’s often tempting to dive straight into the work, especially when you’re faced with tight deadlines (as course designers often are). But resist that temptation! Your people are your best asset – so get your team organized before you begin!
First, get all your key players together (in-person or virtually) and create an action plan that answers the following questions:
- What is the full scope of the project?
- What is the project’s desired outcome?
- What are the necessary deliverables?
- What tasks must be completed, and in what order?
- Who will do what?
- When is each deliverable due?
- Who is responsible for reviews and approvals?
- Who will act as the project manager (AKA the gatekeeper or referee)?
By logically planning the creation of your deliverables in a priority sequence, and ensuring that everyone understands who’s responsible for what (and when), you can avoid costly and frustrating situations like rework, duplicated efforts, and bottlenecks that eat up precious time.
For example, if your team knows that Task A must get done before Task B can get started, but Task C is entirely independent of either of those deliverables, they can work ahead on Task C while they wait for Task A to wrap up.
(For more help with setting your scope, read our tips on planning a new course from scratch.)
Agree on Standards
Teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences often clash over differences in standards and expectations. As such, a collaborative project with more than one set of standards for a specific deliverable (like creating project documentation) is doomed to fail!
Instead, consistent expectations should be established well before anyone begins work on deliverables. Things to consider when setting these standards include:
- Tools and programs to be shared
- Templates and guidelines
- File-naming conventions
- Folder-naming conventions
- Versioning guidelines
- Approval process
When everyone is using the same standards and processes, it’s much easier for every participant to archive, store, and retrieve media and documents from any device or login. This will help your team find assets quickly, build new components faster, and integrate up-stream and down-stream tasks more efficiently.
Encourage Clear and Timely Communication Among Team Members
Any collaborative team that doesn’t meet regularly (either in person or virtually) is doomed to fail. That said, a poorly-managed meeting creates frustration and wastes time.
So what’s the solution? Run your meetings like they’re a critical part of the workday, because they are!
Things to consider:
- Have a clear plan and agenda for every meeting
- Set your meeting schedules in advance – and stick to them!
- Keep your meetings as short as possible – if your agenda wraps early, end!
- Take detailed notes so all action items and deadlines are clearly documented
- Make sure that everyone is invited to raise concerns or suggest alternatives
- If your team is falling behind, factor “regrouping” and “catch-up” sessions into your schedule
- Use team communication tools to stay in touch on critical tasks between meetings
Proper communication ensures that everyone is working toward the same vision, and that team members are actually collaborating to make each other’s workflows better, not working at cross-purposes.
The Hidden Key to Any Successful Collaboration
Effective leadership is the necessary ingredient that helps all assets on a collaborative team – time, technology, talent, and treasury (money!) – are used to their fullest. It is therefore essential that the entire team is aware of who is setting the agenda, who has the final say in disputes, and who can be relied upon for clarification or correction of the workflow as needed.
Proactive leadership of a diverse and collaborative team can be challenging, especially when it comes to managing individual personalities and worldviews. For tips on effective leadership, consider the advice of Kim Scott, whose experience as a former director at Google helped her establish the method of Radical Candor that she suggests to business leaders and project managers in all fields.
How Can CourseArc Help?
CourseArc was built with collaboration in mind! Our course creation tools are designed to help teams of all sizes and experience levels work together seamlessly without having to worry about workflow bottlenecks, duplicate assets, or the nightmare of course versioning.