The August 2012 edition of the Nova Scotia Business Journal published an article in which stated that ‘Collaboration’ was the ‘buzz word’ for 2012 according to ESI International. Formerly called the Educational Services Institute, this company is a provider of learning-based solutions focused on skills training and consulting in project management, business analysis and contract management. ESI International helps people around the world improve the way they manage projects, contracts, requirements and vendors.

As project environments grow in complexity, project management requires team, stakeholder and executive collaboration like never before. These dynamics affect not only how we manage projects but also changes the definition of ‘Project Success’ to now include more considerations from participating parties than in the past. The common ‘Project Triangle’ of constraints traditionally encompassed Time, Cost and Scope. While these are still of paramount importance, Risk and Quality now add to the value the project delivers to the organization. The new definition of project success is that ‘a project can exceed its time and cost estimates so long as the client determines success by ‘their’ criteria. In today’s environment, project value is determined by the “Recipient” – or Client – and not by the “Provider”.

Although not the case everywhere, some organizations struggle to find the right people and may lack management practices necessary to ensure project success. Reduced skills availability and lower workforce numbers, coupled with requirements that are more complex and tightened budgets demand the use of more efficient ways to manage communications and workflow. Collaboration now becomes not only desirable as a means to improve the project success batting average for project teams, but it is now mandatory.

We can easily extend the project management concerns to Document Control and its need for collaboration. We need to ask ourselves how we can mitigate the severity of situations that affect Document Control as well as Project Management. We need to address the concern that smaller projects teams need help to deliver service to a level that reduces risk and improves quality. In part, we can use systems that allow more people to access the document status information they need and rely less on the skills of a few Document Control specialists to provide this information. This approach allows people to make the decisions they are empowered to make but make them sooner since they can have more timely information at their disposal.

It is important to understand that the introduction of document control tools alone does not guarantee success, nor does it necessarily simplify the process. We need to recognize that, while project teams need training, it is strongly advised that the Project Management Office (PMO) utilize proven business management processes and ensure all project team members, including Document Controllers, follow these processes. A side benefit from using an easy to use Document Control package and sound project and business management practices is that an organization can position itself to invest in those younger individuals entering the document control profession. Their mentors will be your senior Document Control specialists who will now have more time to manage the processes and not have to spend their valuable time keeping the existing tools running or being the sole information providers to the rest of the project team.

Is ‘Collaboration’ part of everyday business for your Project Management and Document Control teams or do they sometimes feel the need more resources to do their work? Do the systems and processes they use allow them to do their job and provide easy access to the information the team members, stakeholders and executive need?

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