The collaboration project has come to an end and with it arrives my final blog post, reflecting on my overall experience of the situation.
Reflecting on the project, my immediate thoughts are – wow am I glad it’s over! If I am honest, I prefer working on projects that I can complete on my own. I much prefer managing my own time and creating something independently. Collaboration is terrific, but in my experience, it can cause significant headaches (especially if no one leads and there is indecisiveness amongst team members). I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts that I’d had experience working on a collaborative project during my undergraduate degree and had a bad experience. I would say that this project has been much more successful, but I don’t think I would like to complete a project like this again in the future, just because it was quite stressful trusting other people to get their tasks finished to a good standard in a timely manner. I also felt a bit awkward giving my team members constructive criticism (we are all equal, who am I to judge?!).
My reflective thinking skills were refined on this project; in project management, the lessons learned phase if often missed out but undertaking this project has shown me how important reflection is. It helps to define what is going well and what isn’t working as you can make conscious changes moving forwards.
The leadership structure in the team was messy – there was an attempt to form structure at the beginning of the project, but it all fell apart towards the end and another team member (Robert) pretty much picked up the pieces and moved everything forwards. We used Slack as our project management tool for communication (although we also used email) and google drive was used for document sharing and collaboration. Google drive was a nightmare to use as styling and formatting didn’t appear correctly. Each contributor ended up downloading the document, editing in Word and uploading it back into Google drive. We did have 1 skype call during the project and minutes were recorded and uploaded to Google drive.
Initially, our team was meant to be made up of 9 contributors. The team was broken up into locations; Irish team, French team and American team, this decision was made by my team (Irish contributors) just because it took ages for the French and American teams to communicate. Ideally we should have worked as 1 team as a whole, as I feel our approach segregated us a bit, but since only Irish students seemed to respond to communication, we seemed to split up naturally.
Only one person from the French team completed any work, same for the American team. It was incredibly frustrating as our assignment mentioned that we should all collaborate to choose a topic together initially, but we had to pick a topic without the French or American team’s input as they were so late to reply. The French team did a good job of translation (at least I think so, I did question in a previous post whether or not one of my Irish colleagues may have had to translate some of the document himself) and the American team did do a good job of the graphic design. Not all bad.
What would I do differently in the future
I think overall there is a lot of things I would do differently in future projects:
- Schedule calls/meetings – have a weekly call, pick a date and time and schedule it into everyone’s calendar
- Define milestones – when does everything need to be completed by. Who hands these documents over to the next stage?
- Clearly define the responsibilities of each role – what does it mean to be the Team Leader, Editor, Proofreader? What tasks will each person perform? (a RACI chart might be useful for this)
- Complete a SWOT analysis – I think we should have been more prepared for other team members to drop out or not be available.
My main motivator on this project was getting a good grade and completing the work to a good standard. It would have been nice to have chatted with the French and American teams more and maybe make some overseas friends.
The most valuable thing I learned from this project includes a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” I think if we could have planned better in the beginning, there wouldn’t have been such a rush to complete everything at the end. I think this project was a success as we managed to submit the deliverables, but I don’t think they were as good as they could have been, but I believe we just ran out of time (and team members!!) which was due to poor planning and lack of clarity on team member roles and responsibilities.