Although it's not rocket science, there are some things you need to do to make sure that your team is fully engaged in the work. Here are a few suggestions that will help you choose the best project management tools for your team, they should:
- Work the way people want to work: enabling stakeholders to request work, suggest due dates, collaborate and negotiate. For some teams, this might mean incorporating a more social feel to how work is requested, or enabling a dialog and negotiation that usually transpires when work is assigned. Forcing people to work within a box or "process" that doesn't feel natural "because that's the way the software does it" is contrary to working the way people really work.
- Be tailored to all types of workers: team members, project managers and executives. Everyone on the team should be able to obtain value from the solution. If the only value a team members sees in new software, for example, is a better way for management to "watch what's going on", odds are the implementation will fail. However, if individual team members can see some value too, management will be able to seamlessly collect all the project information they want—at the source.
- Portray work in context: connect people to teams, tasks to initiatives and goals, and recognize that people wear different hats. Projects aren't the only work creative teams deal with every day. If you don't have visibility into all the work going on and how it all relates to each other, you have an incomplete picture of what teams are doing. What's more, the conversations about tasks, projects and goals should be captured and addressed in a way that gives context to the conversations. Though I don't advocate implementing Twitter or Facebook into the project management process, a Twitter-like approach that focuses and attaches those conversations to tasks and initiatives is incredibly valuable to project leaders and organizations trying to make sense out of the quantitative data collected with most project-based work.
Bringing work to life for team members is possible. It's all about creating the right environment. What are you doing to bring work to life for your project teams?