Chapter 5. Supporting Team Collaboration

Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments, I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor

Back in 1999, when working with an offshore project team, I encountered several common stumbling blocks that are very typical of any project. These challenges encompassed the three aspects of collaboration that every project team encounters.

Real-time collaboration

The version history for our project documentation was poorly maintained. Our tool of choice, just like everyone else’s, was email. We came up with a naming convention for version numbering; however, when it came to reviewing past versions of documents, it was quite cumbersome scouring through all of the email messages. Real-time collaboration entails the concurrent development or use of information by multiple members of a group. How many times have you been working on a project document at the same time that your colleague is editing the same document without your knowledge? This can be anything from updating a project schedule, to revising the requirements document, to finalizing the project charter. Overwriting files and not maintaining a version history is among the common problems.

Offline collaboration

Our offline communication tools were limited. The project team relied heavily on email and voicemail messages ...

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