Email: The Project Team Collaboration Tool You Always Hoped It Could Be
Face it. When it comes to collaborating on project information your team is going to choose the “easy button” nearly every time. Unfortunately, the easy button comes with a lot of risks – for individuals, organizations, and projects. You need a solution that empowers users to collaborate their way, using tools they’re used to, tools like Microsoft’s Outlook and Teams. But you also need make sure that critical project information is being captured and filed in the right place. This article explains how you can turn email into the collaborative project information management tool you always hoped it could be. By introducing project email management solutions that allow project team members to do more (without leaving Outlook), you can make sure important information is captured while allowing governed use of your team’s easy button of choice.
The Problem With Email
Email is the go-to medium for business collaboration and managing daily operations. But, for many, it’s also a catch-all for a lot of insignificant information. The trick is to figure out how to introduce structure to such an unstructured organizational ecosystem. You need to ensure vital information, files, and documentation is captured and tracked in a way that’s easily searchable, secure, and auditable.
Project Email Management In The Scope Of Your Project
All information, as it relates to a construction project, is important. After all, it’s the context applied to data that results in you having the right information necessary to fuel action. Oftentimes, email is where the context lives.
As a documentation tool, email not only captures the messaging that drives context, but it also helps others make sense of who did what, when something happened, and how decisions and directives were handled. In the scope of your project, this information is particularly vital when it pertains to the documentation of approvals, requests for information, transmittals, and content registration.
Even so, email isn’t always considered a component of the formal, governed project record. As a result, the information found in a user’s inbox becomes trapped – or worse. If a team member leaves the organization or the project, for example, vital project information may be lost for good.
Rethinking Email As A Valuable Project Information Management Tool
It’s easy to look at email as an enemy of your project information management strategy. In some cases, company leaders will try to deter heavy email use by introducing more rules, policies, and processes. Often, these approaches backfire, your employees are in search of another easy button, and nothing really changes.
Rather than trying to deter email usage, experience tells us that businesses would actually see better results if they began viewing email as an ally of the project rather than an enemy. Such an approach would empower team members to work in a way that’s fast, familiar, and user-friendly while also provide users with the necessary extensions and repositories to store email messages quickly and in context of the project.
The Benefits Of Better Project Email Management
Rethinking email as a valuable project information management tool transforms email into something that’s:
- Recordable – Messages are filed away appropriately and awarded the necessary governance as assigned to a project. In this way, email messages easily accessible by other team members with the appropriate administrative rights. This approach ensures that the right people have the right access to the right content at the right time – essential for gold-star project information management.
- Actionable – Emails can be tagged appropriately as a matter of record and requests can easily be addressed and information easily transmitted. Powerful Outlook tools and buttons make it easier to convert emails to items of record and can even allow users to assign work to help the project run on schedule. Additionally, for those who don’t want to go through the formal process, the option to drag and drop email messages into a shared folder remains. Easily, with the click of a mouse or simply sending a carbon copy of a message to the shared mailbox, messages are easily accessible within the scope of the project.
- Searchable – Users can easily search and filter through email content quickly, both during the project and after close-out, for greater protection when issues arise. Regardless of how you and your team associates email to the project record (drag and drop or Outlook add-in functionality), messages are now a matter of record and can be easily searched within the scope of the project or across your portfolio.
How To Take Control Of Your Team’s Easy Button
Once the decision has been made to embrace email as a collaborative project information management tool for your business, leadership must communicate your new approach.
Three great ways to get the ball rolling and start taking control of your team’s easy button include:
1. Setting Clear Expectations
Organizational leaders must take steps to protect the company and their projects. Start with outlining clear policies and procedures that can be distributed and easily referenced when necessary. Setting clear expectations allows you to establish the necessary governance and formality associated with how your team will use email on the go forward. Then, if any questions arise regarding what emails should be filed, when to file them, and where, your team can simply refer to the pre-established guidelines.
2. Establishing The Tone At The Top
Everybody on the project team and across your organization looks at leadership as the standard bearer for nearly everything related to your organization. As a leader in your firm, you are expected to set a positive example of how the company runs and how project teams should function. When you start using email as a collaborative project information management tool, others will notice and follow suit. Just remember that the same concept is true when you fail to follow through with your company’s revised email protocol. If employees and team members see you drop the ball, they will revert to their old bad habits as well.
3. Making The Easy Button Easier
When you provide your team with powerful project information management tools inside their existing Outlook environment, you make it easier for them to embrace your new email management approach. Installing the right add-ins in Outlook allows will help your team quickly and efficiently route information to the right place.
Start Adding Structure To Your Team’s Inbox – Today
When you consider the fact that more construction projects are ramping up every day, it’s safe to say that your employees are spending more time in their inbox than ever before. Design firms and construction companies can no longer afford to risk emails getting lost in transit, requests for information becoming buried, and essential conversations being deleted. It’s time for the AECO to embrace email as an essential collaborative project information management tool and, through a layered system of governance, ProjectReady can help.
As the only AECO software in the market today that fully understands and utilizes the entire M365 stack, ProjectReady has developed a series of powerful tools and Outlook add-ins that make it easier for teams to collaborate on project information directly from Outlook.
Built specifically to address challenges across the AECO, ProjectReady infuses users’ inboxes with the following capabilities:
- Associate and log email to projects by either dragging and dropping email messages to the appropriate group folder or taking advantage of Outlook add-ins for even more powerful functionality.
- Convert emails into RFIs or actionable project tasks with the appropriate Outlook add-in.
- Create calendar events and Teams meetings from project tasks or turn existing calendar invites into actionable tasks that you can report time against.
- Ramp up your metadata efforts with powerful add-ins that facilitate a more powerful search within the project and across the portfolio.
- And so much more …
Let us introduce you to powerful, governed, user-friendly solutions built specifically for the AECO that will help you improve team efficiency, increase productivity, and reduce risk. Email a ProjectReady professional today to learn how you can start improving the way your project team uses email on every project. Click here to learn about our Email Management solutions.