Collaboration is the key to successUser Experience | 20 June 2016
Although the statement might seem obvious, the reality is that collaboration is not always a top priority for companies or teams.
Many companies seem to be scared of implementing open collaboration, whether because they think it will affect their processes and complicate matters or because they believe that this implementation would negatively impact the professionalism and efficiency of the company.
In fact, in order to evolve, we must not only not fear change but to welcome it.
The Hi INTERACTIVE team likes to have an open and collaborative environment, but how do we achieve it and how do we maintain it? Hopefully, by sharing some of the concepts we use ourselves, we can help you to start taking the first steps in a truly collaborative process.
Bring the whole team to the same side
It’s easy to get into the comfortable habit of protecting our work or our team and the work they are doing. Unfortunately, if we keep this mindset, this also means that we do not get new ideas flowing within our teams and fall into using the same solutions for all problems that might arise.
Therefore, we start falling into a waterfall process where one team has to create extensive documentation to pass onto another team, who, in turn, has no idea of the context of the project until that moment.
As a result, team members will not feel any accountability for the project, only for their part. This process also wastes time and resources with constant corrections, feedback and ideas.
How often do we hear the following problem?
The project manager passes the briefing to the design team. The design team works on their part of the project for about 2 weeks and sends over the results to the project manager and/or client for approval. Sometimes this includes going in a completely different direction because the design team did not understand the objectives at first.
After numerous redesigns and corrections the design is finally approved after an extra week or two. The design team then sends over all the documentation to the developers, who take a look through and already have feedback, for somethings can’t be done or won’t make sense with the system in use.
The design team has to fix the designs and run them past the client and project manager. After another run of updates, the design is finally passed onto the developers to start their part of the process. After a couple of weeks the developers start presenting their work. The designers will probably feel that the developers are not staying true to their vision of the utopian solution they conceived and the client might feel that we promised more than we are delivering.
Building team collaboration for better results
The example above is a worst case scenario and yet most of us identify with parts or even all of the problem. So how do we get our teams communicating and avoid wasting valuable time?
The first and most obvious solution is to get everyone talking and exchanging ideas.
We suggest implementing 3 standard meetings for every project:
1. Client meeting: Getting people from the various teams in the same room with a client can help to make sure everyone understands the needs of the client and what direction the project should take.
2. Kick-off meeting: Putting all the team members together lay out a plan and decide what is viable for the project, considering the client brief and internal resources, can save a lot of time and money down the line.
3. Quick meetings: Setting up small 10-15 min meetings or workshops at various stages of the process to update the other teams helps keep the project moving along.
These meetings should be dynamic, with a pre-established plan of attack and at least one person that keeps everyone on track. It’s important to be objective and not let the team get lost in all the possibilities, features and ideas. Let the team understand that opinions are always valid as long as they are constructive.
We also suggest setting up an internal repository for all documents to be shared and an open communication stream. At Hi INTERACTIVE we use Google Drive folders, organized by projects as a document repository, and SLACK for internal communications.
Communication will grow and become natural
Once our teams start to understand that everyone has an opinion and that we all benefit from the exchange of ideas, communication will start flowing. Corridor brainstorming sessions will almost definitely ensue and teams will approach other teams asking for opinions or ideas on how to approach problems.
The time saved because we do not need as many corrections or documentation will create new possibilities. Clients will feel we are delivering better results (with less waste and closer to what they envisioned) and teams will take ownership of the project because they feel part of the overall vision.
Collaboration will optimize your processes and create an open avenue of communication between teams. Implementing a collaborative environment is much easier than what you might believe and the benefits far outweigh the alternative.
Start implementing collaboration in your company today: ask us how.