Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Developing and managing online projects and collaborations

This blog was developed for those people that work in project teams but realize that new collaboration technologies exist that could improve productivity. The application of ICT is fraught with choice and many people are forced to make technology choice decisions when they are potentially under-skilled to do so. Although many people understand that there is a role for online collaboration environments in projects, few project leaders or managers have sufficient ICT know-how on the role, selection and application of them in their work. It may seem strange for technologists (i.e. the author) to be more concerned about the human element of project teams than the technology itself, but it isn’t. Project teams rely on solid and managed interactions within the team and also for those resources outside of the team (e.g. project partners). This has always been the case, and as past research shows, the human element has often been missed which has led to failed project collaborations.

There are numerous approaches that can be applied to understand the dimension of online collaboration development. Use cases force the would-be developer to look at the requirements of the collaboration system. Use cases are written pieces about a human process in the project (e.g. workflow or communication among team participants) that highlights the human condition needing to be fixed by the collaboration environment. By drawing up use cases, it forces you to think about the processes that are presently used by your people and also helps you identify how collaboration tools could benefit them. There are a considerable number of tools available to support online collaboration (e.g. forums, chat tools, document stores and video conferencing), but some may suit your project team when others do not.

There are several keys to successful deployment of any ICT based technology but none more important than understanding the needs of your people in the work you’d like them to accomplish. Teams are about harnessing knowledge that they then turn into novel innovations. Whether the innovation is an idea, concept or a produced product, collaboration environments can make readily knowledge readily available to your people and help them work more effectively. How you move from A to B is a critical question. A is the starting point on wanting to learn about deploying collaboration tools into your team environment, as evidenced by reading of this blog, B is your intended destination where you have functioning tools in use. Travelling from A to B can be a challenging project in itself, but nothing is more rewarding than watching your people produce output in front of your eyes!

People thrive on collaboration. Collaboration is the bringing together of minds to solve problems of the day, to provide a platform for developing novel innovations. People have been working collaboratively since man first began hunting animals in a team-like way; perhaps longer. Many example of humankind's collaborative ways exist. For example, during the industrial revolution new approaches to the production of harder metals took place by people travelling to other countries and seeing for their own eyes how other cultures had dealt with pre-existing problems. Word of mouth was key to their ability to determine if processes were available elsewhere they could take advantage from. Innovators take their lead from current practice then tweak it with their own knowledge, until something even better emerges. The process of collaboration allows innovation to occur and it should be actively encouraged. The human race learns from itself, from both mistakes and wins. Although today’s cataloguing of web material makes it much simpler to find out how ‘stuff’ is done, and who produces innovative knowledge; Google is about quickening resource discovery, but it still takes thought intervention to create novel knowledge from it. Google is simply a service platform that quickens our information find and publishing capabilities. Collaboration is about providing a people orientated platform where like-minded people of similar interest, but with unique specialism’s, can share knowledge to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

1 comment:

  1. With this blog you really took our attention to the points that we never thought about. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Thanks indeed.

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