Collaboration is Critical – the Tools Make it Happen

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Scott Goss


Anyone who has ever worked on a large project knows how important collaboration is to the team members and outside entities – it is the lifeblood of good project management. We are involved in some very complex projects with large teams and a diverse range of professionals and specialists – engineers, planners, surveyors, architects, scientists, analysts – the list goes on. Collaboration is vital if we are to communicate effectively and get the desired result in the proper time frame and within the prescribed budget. But how?


With dozens of organizations working on different assignments with individual timelines and priorities, it’s a little like a team building a skyscraper with a prescribed set of shared tools and information. Unless there are some great tools at everyone’s disposal, you won’t get the desired results.  When we are part of these complex teams, we use FTP sites, SharePoint, and ProjectWise to help solve these issues. Without them, collaboration on a major roadway structure in a complex multi-agency effort would be impossible. Projects like these evolve rapidly and the design drawings change throughout the day, every day.


If you’ve never used these tools, I recommend you start by checking out the ones we use on a regular basis – you might find some you like better but these will certainly do the job. ProjectWise is a great tool for organizing the AutoCAD information. It allows you to get the latest data every time you open a drawing! A word of caution for people new to using this type of tool. Sometimes when you work in an ever-changing landscape, drawings should not be shared because the changes are trial balloons/concepts and not ready for sharing. This can make the evolving design information actually harder for non-core team members, especially those working on related or overlapping projects but directly on your design.


SharePoint and postings on FTP sites have been staple tools for many years and provide ‘snapshots in time’ in dated folders so we can track and control the information we are sharing.  However, these too can be a double-edged sword but ultimately they yield more value than issues, although at times the margin on that return seems pretty slim.  We have to provide enough information and in a timely enough fashion to avoid unnecessary re-work by design partners. This is all while deciding how many updates are reasonable and which ideas are not ready for prime time.


As we try to continually pull order out of chaos, these are a few of the tools that can help disparate teams collaborate efficiently.







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