The Expert Guide to Collaborative Work Management

Collaborative work can trigger significant productivity gains and enable project organizations to run with increased flexibility. Embracing collaboration is also a way to acknowledge some of the most meaningful trends reshaping the workplace, like the increasingly geographically dispersed workforce and new generations of employees with superior digital literacy. But with these nuances comes a need for collaborative work management tactics that bring everything together. Below, we explore what collaborative work management is and how project and portfolio management teams can unleash its potential.

Work Management 101: How to Manage Multiple Tasks and Projects

Figuring out how to manage multiple tasks and projects, a key part of CWM, requires a strategic approach to ensure productivity and organization. Tools and techniques such as Kanban project management and project Gantt charts can help organizations wondering how to manage multiple projects and tasks.

The Value of Monitoring & Planning Tasks in Project Management

Tasks require not only meticulous planning but also consistent monitoring throughout the project management lifecycle. 

Initial task planning establishes the groundwork, serving as the roadmap for successful project execution. It involves breaking down the overarching project into smaller, manageable tasks, each with its own objectives, timelines, and resources. Overall, it facilitates better communication among team members, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding their responsibilities and deadlines. 

Moving forward, continuous task monitoring is essential for ensuring that the project stays on course. Regular scrutiny of task progress allows for early identification of any potential issues. Furthermore, consistent monitoring provides valuable insights into the overall project health, allowing for data-driven decision-making. 

Tasks should not only be planned and monitored, but also allocated. Efficiently assigning tasks to available resources minimizes bottlenecks, preventing overburdening of workers and ensuring a balanced distribution of workload. This requires a dynamic approach, with periodic reassessments to adapt to changing project dynamics, resource availability, and evolving priorities.

Understanding Task Dependencies in Project Management

One crucial part of project management (and, by extension, work management) is identifying and reconciling task dependencies. A task or project dependency is just what it sounds like – a dependency between projects or activities. In other words, one project or initiative may depend on the success or existence of another. 

There are four main types of task dependencies that work and project management teams should be aware of:

  • Finish to Start: Task 2 cannot begin until task 1 is completed. This is arguably the most common form of task dependencies in project management.
  • Finish to Finish: Task 2 cannot be completed until task 1 is finished.
  • Start to Finish: Task 2 cannot be completed until task 1 has begun.
  • Start to Start: Task 2 cannot start unless task 1 has started.

Additionally, there are two main ways to influence task and project dependencies: directly and indirectly.

The influence you have over external dependencies (when tasks are contingent on the progress of something outside of your department or even of the company) is limited. You can hardly tell a supplier or the head of another business unit what to do. You can voice expectations or even advice, but ultimately It is up to them to fulfil your requests. This means you have indirect influence over them.

On the other hand, internal dependencies link the progress of one activity to that of another task within your department. Then you can directly impact the choices and actions of your team members. You therefore get improved control over the management of task dependencies.

Creating Resources for Effective Work Management

A popular tactic for mapping out and understanding tasks is creating a visual. Gantt charts and Kanban boards both offer an integrated approach to Agile project management methodologies, including Scrum. They can be highly useful tools for bringing together all the moving bits and pieces of an organization’s workflow.

Gantt charts excel in providing a comprehensive overview of project timelines to enhance strategic planning and resource allocation. The visual representation of tasks and dependencies aids in identifying critical paths and potential bottlenecks. 

On the other hand, Kanban boards offer real-time task visibility, facilitating adaptive workflows and swift response to changing priorities. The visual representation of work stages and the ability to limit work in progress enhances efficiency.

Combining the benefits of Gantt charts and Kanban boards empowers teams to navigate complex projects with flexibility and efficiency.

Option 1: Create a Project Gantt Chart

Developed in the early 20th century and named after management consultant Henry Gantt, Gantt charts have become essential to project management and task management. They represent tasks as horizontal bars, showcasing start and end dates. 

Modern Gantt charts often include dependencies, resource allocation, and critical path analysis. Two main types exist: 

  • Basic Gantt charts, which display tasks and timelines
  • Advanced Gantt charts, which integrate additional project management elements for comprehensive planning and tracking

One of the key benefits of Gantt charts is their ability to represent complex project plans in a comprehensible manner. Gantt creates visual clarity on tasks, dependencies, and milestones. This significantly helps teams understand the project’s scope, sequence of activities, and critical paths. 

Gantt charts also aid in resource management by allowing teams to allocate and track resources efficiently. This prevents overloads and ensures optimal utilization. Furthermore, Gantt charts facilitate communication and coordination among stakeholders, as they provide a shared reference point. The ability to identify potential delays or bottlenecks in advance allows for proactive decision-making and adjustments.

Option 2: Create a Kanban Board for Projects

In a project management context, Kanban boards help visualize project workflows by materializing tasks status on a shared billboard. You’ve probably seen boards or walls covered with multiple colorful sticky notes spread across several columns: that’s Kanban project management. 

The benefits of Kanban boards in task management and project management are vastly documented. Because it makes project progress clear to all participants, Kanban helps improve collaboration and communication, especially for Scrum teams. 

There are two primary types of Kandan boards: physical boards using cards and digital platforms offering virtual spaces for collaborative project task management. Those virtual “walls” transcend locations and time zones.

With Kanban, teams can easily reprioritize tasks based on changing requirements or urgent issues, allowing for greater adaptability. This flexibility enables teams to respond quickly to a shifting business landscape and deliver value more efficiently.

Other benefits of implementing Kanban project management task boards in a project environment include improved cooperation. Kanban fosters better communication and collaboration among team members, leading to improved efficiency and collaborative problem-solving. By making the workflow transparent to everyone involved, Kanban encourages team members to work together, share knowledge, and support each other in achieving project goals.

By limiting work in progress (WIP), Kanban helps teams deliver value faster, reducing time to market and enhancing customer satisfaction. With a focus on completing tasks before starting new ones, Kanban promotes a steady flow of work, minimizing delays.

The Best Way to Track Projects and Task is with Quality PPM Solutions

Managing work and collaboration outside of dedicated CWM project management software introduces downsides that can impede overall project efficiency. For instance, the proliferation of spreadsheets, which are often used as makeshift project management tools, can easily lead to data fragmentation. Likewise, without a project portfolio management software, recurring tasks cannot be automated and require manual completion, weighing on productivity.

Additionally, reliance on emails for communication exacerbates challenges, contributing to 

information overload, miscommunication, and difficulties in tracking project updates. The absence of a unified platform further limits collaboration, making it challenging for teams to work seamlessly and stay aligned. 

Hence the importance of adopting the right work and resource management software to manage recurring tasks. The right collaborative work management (CWM) solution can strategically manage task assignments across the company with visibility and control. CWM project management software tools drill down into granular, day-to-day project management actions and gather progress updates and statistics to support decision-making abilities. CWM project management solutions represent all work management to gain a single version of the truth on all levels of the portfolio.