Software tools for collaboration and project management are the best solutions when you aim to unite the team, tune up the work flow, exchange experiences, etc. With all the available collaboration software, either desktop- or web-based, proprietary or open source, one might consider that such tools are the pandemic panacea for teams of all kinds. But collaboration software has several other advantages.
What I noticed about collaboration systems
About a year ago, my company integrated a project management and collaboration solution into our workflow. We’d never dealt with software of this kind before, but as the company grew, we decided to take a shot. After the TeamLab integration, I noticed several tendencies that were very vivid and interesting to dissect.
Very soon there appeared a small but stable group of people who constantly posted materials in the internal wiki, added bookmarks, and took part in all discussions, until you might think our collaboration system had become their workspace. This brought up the question: When do they do their regular jobs? I admit that there might be people in this group whose responsibilities were to analyze the current market situation and report about it. I can also admit that the company needed the volunteers, as they gather data for all. And it’s up to you if you use and apply that knowledge--but there is clearly an appropriate level of participation.
All the news and important events from now on were posted only via the collaboration system. If someone returned after a vacation or simply missed the news, when he or she started questioning, they got a list of links to all the important posts. Time management was in operation.
It was always interesting to track public opinion based on the comments left. Sometimes people posted funny images as an answer to a blog post. I personally saved a couple of wonderful examples illustrating skepticism and astonishment.
When using collaboration software, project management can be examined on two levels. One project could contain dozens of tasks that were regularly created, closed, updated, prolonged, etc. Teammates operated their tasks themselves—either project managers didn’t have time or weren’t in the mood to manage the project properly, or some teammates showed unnecessary zeal. When the Big Boss noticed this disgrace, there was a serious talk. As they spoke, we all learned project management on the fly. Now we are able to teach basic collaboration principles ourselves.
Collaboration software also plays the role of a local social network. And as in every social network, there are the stars with a bunch of followers and hundreds of “likes.” I also noticed that all posts from the Boss were well-viewed and frequently commented on. It’s a good sign when people are not afraid to start a dialogue with team leaders. In our case, TeamLab was an indicator of such healthy relations inside the company.
Back to project management—at the beginning there were a lot of milestones overdue. Most projects could boast red flags as if they came from the former Soviet Union. It could only mean that either all the people in the company were irresponsible and lazy, or they just forgot to mark their achievements in the system. In this sense, a collaboration platform is the perfect discipline instrument, as with time, red color disappeared.
And finally, some teammates decided to be self-promotors by means of the corporate collaboration tool, writing a series of posts about how good they were. I would understand such posts if managers wrote them to encourage their teams and share their success with others. But self-promotion is impolite and somehow unethical. It’s just like trolls on the Internet who aim to irritate the others, and the only means to have them on a tight leash is to ignore their posts. The numbers of those wishing to self-promote decreased out of loneliness—and the others drew their own conclusions.
One year later
After one year of using the collaboration and project management platform, and we became more disciplined, we learned to efficiently manage our work time and our projects. And TeamLab really helped to adjust work process between the teams. Yes, there was a negative experience, but it is an experience too—we learned our lessons. And I decided to write this about it, as I believe that such experience is universal and could be useful for others.