No matter how good we are at something, there's always room for improvement. Think of any professional project team that you have participated in recently. Chances are good that, like most modern project team, your group relied heavily on content collaboration to get work done. Chances are also good that, while your content collaboration strategy worked, improving it could have boosted your team's productivity and creativity, leading to a better result overall.
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The quickest way to take your content collaboration game to the next level is to pinpoint your team's bad habits and replace them with good ones. In this article, we'll cover how your team can:
- Annotate shared documents effectively
- Organize shared folders and files
- Keep important project data from getting lost or forgotten
Annotations are a great way to further your team's discussions, but only if you do it the right way.
Bad Habit #1: Vague or Ineffective Annotations
Content collaboration platforms offer project teams plenty of advantages, and everybody seems to have a different opinion of which advantage is the biggest. No matter how you slice it, this major perk is somewhere close to the top of the list: content collaboration makes annotating your team's shared files with comments and suggestions super easy.
The only downside is that not everybody knows how to leave effective comments on shared files in documents. Ensuring that your annotations truly contribute value to the project takes a little bit of practice, but it ultimately makes your team's communications more effective and helps you achieve better outcomes.
How to Fix It
If your team has a bad habit of leaving vague or ineffective annotations, improving your content collaboration can be as simple as adopting these simple strategies:
Use detail. Two word annotations aren't super helpful. Whether you are commending a colleague's work or offering a suggestion to help them improve, make sure you explain as thoroughly as possible. Including detail creates clarity, and clarity is key to effective annotations.
Maintain a growth mindset. This is especially important if you're offering up some constructive criticism. Always find a way to look towards future opportunities for improvement in your annotations rather than simply criticizing the work in front of you or work that has been done in the past.
Use annotations to start a conversation. The biggest benefit of working in a group is that it allows you to build on each team member's unique skills and experiences. If something in the file or document seems like it could be improved, but getting more people involved in the process of determining exactly how it can be improved is good way to go. The more brain power you have behind a solution, the stronger it will ultimately be.
Staying organized is always important, but it's particularly important when you're working collaboratively.
Bad Habit #2: Inconsistent File and Folder Organization
It's no secret that projects tend to take on a life of their own after you kick them off. In a lot of ways, that's awesome—it means your team is likely going to end up with an innovative, nuanced, and effective finished product. However if your team doesn't set up (and stick to!) a clear file organization system from the beginning of the project, keeping track of all of your files and folders can quickly become way more time-consuming than it needs to be.
How to Fix It
Don't want to waste time sifting through files and folders until you find the right one? Keep your collaborative efforts organized from the get-go with these tips:
Group files by category. When you walk into a grocery store, you can pretty quickly find what you're looking for. Why? All of the bread items are in one section of the store, the dairy products in another, the frozen TV dinners in another. That makes it easy to quickly get to the general area you need. You can use the same tactic to organize your shared files and folders also—make your highest level folders broad categories like HR, Clients, Products, Digital Initiatives, etc.
Don't be afraid of subfolders, but also don't go crazy with them. Subfolders are a quick and easy way to organize shared files, but having 15 levels of folders to navigate before you hit your actual files simply isn't practical. Try to limit your organizational strategy to 3 levels, at most.
Build a naming convention that will grow with your project. Some ways of doing this include using YYMMDD format for files that include dates (so that the project has room to grow over multiple years, if necessary) and using sequential numbering (001, 002, 003 instead of 1, 2, 3).
Documenting your team's meetings is more important than you might realize.
Bad Habit #3: Skimping on Documentation
Everybody's been there. You have a meeting on something super simple and straightforward, so you don't take any notes. Then later in the week, you're frantically emailing a coworker for meeting notes because you forgot that one essential detail you swore you weren't going to let yourself forget. When you have a lot going on (and we all do), keeping all of the information you need in your head can be tough.
How to Fix It
Proper documentation is a simple way to save yourself and your team from unnecessary stress and project delays. Follow these tips to make sure your team's documentation is up to par:
Make it digital. Create a folder in your shared storage space for documentation, and commit to keeping it organized. This way, everybody always has access to your team information.
Take notes before, during, and after meetings. Meeting agendas are essential if you want to make sure your team hits all necessary points during a meeting. Meeting notes help you recall the flow of your conversation and trace the development of ideas. Taking some time after the meeting to jot down a recap of decisions made and tasks assigned helps keep everyone organized and accountable. At every stage, documentation is essential.
Establishing an effective content collaboration strategy is easy when you break these 3 bad habits.
Content collaboration is a key part of any modern project team's strategy. Taking advantage of these simple tips and tricks will help your team break its content collaboration bad habits, be more productive, and ultimately produce better content.
What are your team's content collaboration best practices? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.