Project Collaboration – how do you keep it all together?

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Trained and certified Project Managers will probably have specific training in the tools they use to manage projects. As well as the skills to manage the team, communicate to all stakeholders. While juggling tasks and timelines. Complex projects may require complex tools, but so much of what we do can technically be classed as a project without being complex. Collaborating on a project requires a specific set of skills and can be effectively done using standard apps in Office 365.

Projects generally have a start and an end date, which is different to working together on our core business which is ongoing. For example, implementing a new content management system is a project. Filling it with content and updating and maintaining the content is ongoing. For the simplest projects you could choose a simple Excel Spreadsheet to manage tasks, use Tasks in Outlook or even ToDo. But we recommend using Teams.

These are some basic principles to consider when planning your Team.

Plan:
• Think carefully about who will be working on the project (use existing teams and add a channel for the project/create a new team);
• Will you want to include external users (create a new team – you don’t accidently want to give external users access to internal data);
• Will you need to keep all conversations and artefacts from the project, or can they be deleted once the project is completed (the team owners can delete channels or an entire team).

Set up your Team/Channel:
• Give it a really good name (making it recognisable to everyone will help users find it and recognise it);
• Use the description to explain the objective of the Team/Channel (e.g. Project X tasks, documents and conversations – avoid email and use this channel for all our project collaboration);
• Automatically add the channel to everyone’s favourites list so that they can easily find the channel (they can remove it from their favourites if they want to);
• Add a Planner tab and organise buckets to represent types of task or categories in the list;
• You now have a complete digital workplace for all project collaboration.

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Project collaboration:
• Have all conversations and status updates in Conversations (no more email, except for notifications);
• Save all documents and links to other documents or handy websites in Files (one version of every file, never email a file, just email a link to the file or @mention someone in the comments);
• Use the wiki for sharing information, brainstorming (wikis are generally for sharing information that will be kept for longer than a conversation e.g. technical designs, workflows etc.);
• Tasks can be organised in buckets, assigned to one or more team members, include checklists, attachments and comments. Include start and due dates and monitor progress, and even categorised. (Extensive functionality, visually very effective);
• Events or meetings can be planned in Teams by clicking on the Meetings tab in the navigation bar along the left side of your screen. Then select Schedule a meeting. (Make sure you select a channel to meet in so that the right people are automatically invited and everyone knows where to find the documentation relating to the meeting).

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So yes, a large amount of collaboration will actually take place in Planner. But as this is added to the Team, your team members will be able to do everything in one app by simply opening the different tabs.
And yes, you will still receive emails – but these should only be notifications that can easily be deleted once you have seen them. The greatest benefits are having everything in one place, only one version of any document, spreadsheet or presentation for everyone to work on together, all the tasks easy to prioritise, assign and track. To us, the perfect project management tool, simple, intuitive and great fun to use.

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