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5 Tips to Ensure a Successful Project Collaboration Experience for Remote Workers

May 19, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Brian Jennings, FinancialForce

It can be argued that we’re in the golden age of the remote employee. The evolution of cloud and mobile technologies has eliminated many of the traditional barriers and overhead costs required to operate a business. Perhaps no sector has benefited from this more than professional services, where the only capital you truly need is a computer and a working internet connection. A recent study from IDC put the staggering number of professionals working outside of traditional offices in perspective when it estimated there were more than 96 million remote workers in the United States today.

With such a large – and still growing – number of professionals working remotely, businesses face new collaboration and communication challenges. Project collaboration  technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, with no shortage of offerings for businesses large or small. Successfully managing a given project across employees, partners and clients requires close collaboration and frequent, detailed communication.

For one, organizations are increasingly looking to automate much of the project collaboration process via professional services automation (PSA) software. This allows them to spend less time on tedious tasks like billing time or providing status reports, and more on doing meaningful, strategic work to further a given project. This is all the more pressing when you consider that less than half of projects today are finished on time and initially meet all of their goals.

IT has no shortage of options when supporting the selection and deployment of project management technology. With that in mind, here are five tips on features to look for in a project collaboration tool to ensure workers are set up for success:

1. Aggregate All Transactional Data on a Single Platform  – Project management is centered on collaboration between employees, partners and clients. Project collaboration tools should be a hub for all interactions and allow project leaders to determine availability and enter time and expenses straight into the system, as opposed to do manually uploading it from another source. Additionally, those tools should integrate into larger CRM platforms, which house data from other departments like sales and HR. Doing so enables organizations to break down departmental walls and quickly aggregate transactional and other data types for more accurate, timely insights.

2. Ability to Set Permissions and Access Rights – IT departments are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to controlling access to business data. Being able to set permissions ensures that the right information is shared with only the intended parties, which allows all stakeholders to interact in a more timely, transparent manner. Additionally, the ability to set and enforce permissions for project collaboration software can help satisfy compliance requirements when dealing with more sensitive data, like financial or healthcare records.

3. Social Plug-In – Communication is key, and often determines the success or failure of a given project. There’s no shortage of collaboration tools on the market, but the most effective projects are those that keep all activity, including social interactions, on the same platform. Look for project collaboration tools capable of integrating a popular, well-known social app like Chatter or Slack. These include a known entity for users, and will allow IT and other stakeholders to easily access audit logs when assessing the status of a given task.

4. Gantt Visualization – The Gantt chart has been a tool of choice for project managers for over one hundred years, and for good reason. It allows all stakeholders on a project to visualize the entire lifecycle and quickly hone in on a given task and filter out unnecessary information. Drag and drop functionality allows users to see resource requests and respond to changes in a drag and drop visual view.

5. Full Mobile Functionality – Given the increasingly mobile nature of the workforce, any effective project collaboration tool needs to be fully accessible on mobile devices and tablets. Stakeholders need to be able to upload information anytime, from anywhere. For their part, IT should be aware of any SLA tied to project collaboration software, and be clear on the up-time and performance guarantees.

The traditional workforce as we know it is evolving at a rapid clip. Businesses should approach this evolution with a proactive mindset, and empower their workers with emerging project collaboration tools and solutions. When done thoughtfully, businesses will discover that the future of work is an opportunity for more meaningful, effective outcomes.

 

 

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