Project managers should boost team collaboration for greater success

Project managers must facilitate team collaboration. Doing so may require new tools and techniques in today's distributed workplace.

How can a project manager facilitate team collaboration?

Regardless of what software methodology a team is using, collaboration is key to success. Agile proponents actively push team collaboration by setting up frameworks in which developers, testers, business analysts and experts work together. Facilitating communication is naturally encouraged in this environment, and many techniques are put into place to support collaboration.

Project managers in traditional environments using an approach like the Waterfall methodology face a bigger challenge. In these environments, teams are typically organized by function and the methodology does not actively support communication and collaboration among team members. Traditionally, each group performs its function and then passes the "output" to the next group as "input." This way of working is often described as "throwing it over the wall" or "working in silos." Increasingly, teams working with traditional methodologies are recognizing the need to knock down those walls so they can communicate and collaborate throughout the lifecycle.

Project managers face added challenges when team members are distributed geographically around the globe. Though Agile methodologies push for colocation, this is not realistic for larger companies with employees that span multiple locations, sometimes working from home. Although this situation creates some challenges, newer collaboration technologies provide features that facilitate discussion and notify team members when changes are made.

In my recent article, "Enterprise software development collaboration with CALM and CDEs," I share ideas from Alan Brown's book, Enterprise Software Delivery: Bringing Agility and Efficiency to the Global Software Supply Chain. The book contains examines approaches and techniques, such as collaborative delivery environments and collaborative application lifecycle management, that help project managers facilitate collaboration throughout the application delivery cycle.

Project managers may also benefit from the tutorial, Social media: A guide to enhancing ALM with collaborative tools, which provides additional articles and insights that explain ways to facilitate team collaboration through the application lifecycle.

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