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Five Tips for Building Connected Work Teams with Online Collaboration Tools

New ways of working together allow teams to overcome challenges and improve collaboration. Read on to learn how.

As business teams continue to work remotely and become more geographically dispersed, it can be tough to keep communication lines open and efforts coordinated.

Time-zone differences can delay communications and make activities difficult to schedule. It’s challenging to ensure that everyone has the latest progress updates, project information, and customer requirements. To complicate matters, individuals’ communication styles can vary widely.

Many companies still rely on phone calls, emails, and expensive on-site meetings to manage team collaboration and keep projects on schedule. Fortunately, new technologies can help build a connected work team and make long-distance collaboration simpler than ever before.

Microsoft has five tips to show you how to build more connected and efficient work teams:

 

1. Maintain one version of the truth

 

Many project management challenges occur when individual team members do not have the latest version of documents such as work orders, project status reports, or technical documentation.

With inaccurate information, teams can lose time doing irrelevant – or already completed – project-related activities.

Tools like Microsoft SharePoint, included in Office 365, help you:

  • Maintain the latest versions of important project documentation
  • Manage who can make changes to documents
  • Track all changes

SharePoint, when used effectively, ensures that everyone has access to up to date documents. Having documents stored centrally on SharePoint also helps every member of the team easily access what they need, when they need it.

 

2. Schedule effectively

 

Project management teams need regular meetings to be effective; however, the larger the team, the more difficult it can be to find a time that works for everyone. Companies using email to manage schedules will often send rounds of emails trying to find the best time for everyone to meet. The meeting manager then must sort through these emails and pick a time, send out a formal request and potentially restart the process or hold partial meetings (without key stakeholders) after schedules have changed in the meantime. It’s a highly inefficient process.

Sharing Outlook Calendars among team members can empower the meeting manager to schedule meetings with key players efficiently.

 

3. Hold effective online meetings

 

Tools like Microsoft Skype for Business elevate meetings by enabling teams to share documents and presentations related to the status of a project. Running presentations online engages key team members in the discussion and keeps the focus on the matter at hand rather than skipping ahead.

 

4. Increase accessibility

 

Emails, texts and phone calls can be ignored or overlooked and/or lead to more emails, texts and games of phone tag.
Skype for Business can help team members contact each other quickly and avoid lengthy emails, calls, and untimely interruptions.
Lync Online allows you can see which team members are online and available. A simple “Got a minute?” can bring team members together at a moment’s notice and avert work-stopping interruptions.

 

5. Ensure 360-degree project management

 

Tools like Microsoft Project can help manage the progress of even the most complex projects. For simpler projects and everyday team work, easy-to-use tools like Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online can help make sure everyone has visibility into project status and customer requirements.

Project teams can leverage strategic tools to boost collaboration and help keep projects on time and on budget.

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