How to Avoid Common Project Collaboration Problems

These are some of the most common pitfalls in project collaboration. This will help you improve client satisfaction and team effectiveness.

Project collaboration, at its most basic, is when two or more people collaborate to achieve a common goal. It seems so simple, right?
It is theoretically possible, but in practice it is almost impossible. But why is this? After years of working together at school and work, you would think that we would all be great at collaboration. What’s the deal?
We are not as good at collaboration as we think. We assume that someone understands what we are talking about, or we get too excited and forget to check.
We don’t always have the right tools and we spend too much time “making do.”
We only have a few days to deal with collaboration problems. Worst, they can lead to budget or schedule overruns which may result in project cancellations, which may affect client satisfaction and team effectiveness.
Let’s take a look at three common collaboration problems people face when working on projects. We will also discuss solutions to these challenges.
How to overcome three common challenges in project collaboration
We researched common pitfalls in collaboration and reached out to project leaders for their best practices.
1. Poor communication
Miscommunication, misinterpretation, and misunderstanding: When we collaborate with another person, there is the potential for one or more mishaps.
Here’s why: Much like how we underestimate our ability to work together effectively, we also tend to be overconfident with our communication skills.
We assume everyone is on the same page so we don’t take the time and check for understanding. Or, we assume that everyone has the same perspective or knowledge as we do. We leave out context details. Or, perhaps (but not likely), we see communication as one-sided and don’t seek buy-in form stakeholders.
Our research has shown that poor or inadequate communication is the number one challenge facing project teams. Project teams face the number one challenge. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace Report found that only 13% of employees agree that leadership communicates effectively to the rest of the organization.
Engaging in two-way communication can help you to verify understanding. Communication includes listening, adjusting, and telling.
Communication breakdowns almost always result from the sender believing that the message was received correctly and failing to seek feedback. The receiver is responsible for asking questions if they aren’t clear or have concerns about the message.
Gartner recommends these steps for effective communication at work. Gartner clients can access the full report.

Case Study: Prioritizing communication between clients
Dary Merckens is Gunner Technology’s CTO. He shares his story of poor communication and how Gunner Technology overcame this challenge in project collaboration.
“In the past, we lost a lot of time because clients didn’t communicate clearly or we didn’t understand what they wanted, or both.
This was overcome by prioritizing clear and fast communication. This includes responding quickly to any questions or requests and checking for understanding so everyone is on the exact same page.
We started to track everything. A good project management software is essential. You must capture all relevant information in the tool (we use Redmine for this purpose). All information that is important should be recorded in the software. Human memory is too fragile.”
2. Inadequate planning
Every work effort, no matter how large or small, must be planned.