I walked into my favorite hardware store last week to pick up something fairly small and obscure. It’s one of those typical Mom & Pop stores, with every available inch of the walls covered with stuff. Everything from power tools to lint traps…you name it and they have it (in a very small space of course). I was looking for those little plastic things that are used to hold down a power cord, you know the type, right? Of course I didn’t know what they were called then but all I had to do was describe it and the store owner knew exactly what it was and where to find it.
Can you imagine how long it would have taken to find the these “cord staples” had the store owner not been there to help? I mean, this is not your average store, with neatly lined shelves and items stacked perfectly. It’s more like an organized chaos, and without the help of the workers there, you’d be lost.
Similarly, when working with your project team, you don’t want to find yourself lost in someone else’s organized chaos. But sadly, this is what many teams are subjected to when they are not using an online project management and collaboration system.
Why the connection? When your team members record information, they will store it in whatever way they are accustomed: post-its, email folders, notebooks, binders, whiteboards, the list goes on. If and when you need to get information from them, you better hope that they are available and can find what you need. And even if they are, it might take a while digging around.
If you can train your team to use an online project management and collaboration tool, everything will be stored in the same place. Not only is information easier to find than if you were to dig through a network, but it’s also more easily searchable. The online project management system helps even the sloppiest people get a little more organized by giving them a template to work with.
So how can you train your team to use the online collaboration system? Some suggestions:
Train yourself first
Make sure YOU hold all communication and file sharing in that space. If your team knows to find all of the good stuff from you within the system, they’ll make sure to visit regularly.
Herd ’em back in!
Every team has them – confused, lazy or busy employees who let a conversation that started on your collaboration site trail out to old-fashioned email (not integrated with the workspace). Bring them back in! Copy the discussion back into the workspace where it was left off, ensuring that you don’t lose critical details while also sending a gentle reminder to your team that the discussion should stay there.
Make it worth their while
Related to the other points above, keep the information on the collaboration site relevant and useful. Give your team members a reason to go there every day and contribute. If the collaboration site has integrated time tracking then your team members might very well likely be going there every day anyway.
Remind them how easy it is
All it takes is replying to an email and the conversation stays right where it needs to be. Also, remind your team about the free mobile app that they can use when they’re on the go.
So, now let’s put you back in the scenario of trying to find something in that hardware store. Using an online collaboration and project management tool ensures that you’ll always have a guide to finding critical information, and won’t have to worry about digging alone through that massive drawer of bolts to find that one specific thing you need.