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Lead Your Team Strategy

Collaboration Kinks That Can Cost You

Collaboration Kinks That Can Cost You
Credit: mast3r/Shutterstock

Today's technological advances allow businesses to brainstorm, communicate, and share and innovate from anywhere in the world, in ways that were never before possible. These capabilities have brought with them the promise of seamless project collaboration among members of an increasingly global workforce.

But as many businesses know, collaborative efforts don't always work out as planned. A recent pan-European study commissioned by collaboration solution provider Projectplace found that inefficient project management practices cost organizations 20 working days a year, which can jeopardize a company's revenue and reputation.

"Project success requires a balance of elements, including building a motivated team, easy collaboration and getting things done on time and within budget," Tobias Andersson, chief operating officer of Projectplace, said in a statement. "It takes just one of those elements to slip, disrupting the balance and resulting in chaos. If the team misses a single email, the knock-on effect can be a delay in the project, a disgruntled customer, and even lost revenues."

Communication and technology hassles are among the top reasons that collaboration breaks down in organizations. Of the 1,240 project managers surveyed by Projectplace, 37 percent said a lack of communication with team members is a major headache. Three-quarters of respondents use email as their primary communication method, and limits on mailbox sizes (26 percent) and tracking down specific emails in a thread (38 percent) are two big pet peeves for workers. While the majority of project managers feel that investing in new technologies could reduce time, money and stress, only 52 percent of their IT departments support the use of new tech solutions. [11 Collaboration Tools for Small Business]

James Bindseil, president and CEO of file-transfer software company Globalscape, noted that multiple versions of files and failure to properly track documents can also hamper the innovation and teamwork that collaboration is supposed to enable, especially when workers are geographically dispersed.

"With a myriad of users across locations, companies face major hurdles in managing multiple networks and preventing redundancies in employee workloads," Bindseil told Business News Daily. "[If one user is] editing a document that is currently being accessed by another team member across the city, country or globe, [it] can lead to multiple, inconsistent documents and a slower project completion time.Organizations that can't control and track their documents often find that collaboration can be cumbersome and inefficient."

Perhaps even more concerning than any of these issues is the inherent information security risks associated with poor collaboration practices. A Globalscape study revealed that nearly two-thirds of employees use unapproved file-sharing methods like Dropbox and personal email accounts, and 80 percent of these workers do so at least once a month. Bindseil advised organizations to choose collaboration software that will give them more control over their documents and information.

"Alack of enterprise-grade security puts data at risk of compromise or corruption if it falls into the wrong hands," Bindseil said. "[Find a solution that] can move or synchronize information from one location to another, protect data in motion, prevent redundancies by locking files and allow controlled remote and offline access to critical documents."

Andersson also emphasized the important role of the right tech solutions in ensuring safe, efficient and productive collaboration.

"Project management chaos is harmful for businesses because it can damage their reputation and bottom line," Andersson said. "Businesses have everything to gain by addressing the chaos, and technology plays a central role in this. By exploring new methods and tools, they can propel smarter, goal-driven collaboration."

Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.