Collaboration is more than just ‘working together’—it can determine the entire course of projects and shape the efficiency of your business. Companies are increasingly turning to technology to make collaboration smarter, from enabling teams to communicate and share resource effectively, to simply helping them get more done in less time. We analyze the biggest challenges modern teams face, as well as some of the best task management tools to keep everyone pulling in the same direction.
What smart collaboration looks like
Collaboration is important for a reason—it delivers results. Smart teams share these essential characteristics:
- They identify a project’s goal and set out ways to achieve it, clearly defining scope and coordinating schedules
- They work to realistic objectives, projects and tasks, checking in frequently to keep in sync
- They monitor their performance and provide updates via streamlined communication channels
- They solve problems flexibly as a team, acknowledging issues, listening to each other’s concerns and defining new deliverables together
- They recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses, recognizing wins and identifying learnings to improve future performance
The challenges of modern collaboration
The rise of remote working and working with distributed teams is increasingly shifting collaboration to a virtual environment. Many team members may not have set schedules, core hours or full-time contracts, or even be situated in the same time zone. As companies seek to boost employee productivity and engagement, many individuals are gaining increased autonomy over how to structure their working day.
With so many time-specific variables, task visibility is more pressing than ever—new research published in the Harvard Business Review has revealed that on average, managers either don't know or can't remember 60% of the work their teams do. Teams need supreme coordination to bridge knowledge and communication gaps. It’s also vital that each worker is able to work efficiently on their own tasks, while also being able to share task progress and tag in on others’ work when needed.
5 smart task management tools
Thankfully, technological help is at hand. These five task management tools help keep team collaboration smart without introducing new administrative burdens into employee workflows:
1. Jira - for task delegation
JIRA was built to solve the inefficient system of using email as a way of creating tasks and instead create deliverables using agile workflow boards to plan sprints and efficiently distribute tasks across teams. While using JIRA, team members can create a new ticket at any time; when the ticket is assigned, they’ll get a notification straight away. The task manager is visible to all, so everyone can see who’s working on what.
2. Timely - for task analysis
Timely offers a one-stop-shop for tracking task activity on live projects, and analyzing them once completed to improve project estimates and set better plans. It automatically tracks all the different tasks people work on and assigns their work to the right project. Public dashboards help managers check in on where resource is being spent to keep budgets on-track, and employees can see how long different tasks take to gauge requirements for future work. A handy planner then lets teams share schedules and plan work across multiples projects for times which work for everyone.
3. Week Plan - for managing resources
Trusted by over half a million users, Week Plan gives you a team-shared calendar each week for an overview of what’s coming up, allowing workers to easily schedule their workweek and coordinate over tasks. The program also enables you to add weekly recurring tasks and automatically then assign to your staff or team’s schedule. Week Plan also hosts native integrations with Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar and collaboration apps via Zapier, which is useful for cross-coordination over different platforms.
4. Quire - for visualizing progress
With integrations with Android, iOS, and Chrome, Quire is a visually-oriented, agile program using charts and graphs to reflect team progress through a scope or phase. It also helps teams capture ideas (via text, Camera and Siri) and break them down into actionable steps. From there, you can coordinate task prioritization with Kanban boards and clearly color-coded items, understanding a project’s headway as you move through it.
5. GotoMeeting - for conferencing
Video conferencing is a great way to coordinate with distributed teams and clients, ensuring those verbal cues and important face-to-face interactions aren’t overlooked when developing collaborative relationships. GotoMeeting offers a way for you to share, discuss and communicate on tasks instantly - even if the application isn’t installed on the attendee’s computer.