How to Collaborate Better with Dispersed Project Teams

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This article is part 4 in our series from productivity psychologist Melissa Gratias. Follow her on Twitter @melissagratias


Sue coordinates training and development programs at her company. She must collaborate electronically with venues, caterers, external speakers, internal stakeholders, and her direct manager. She needs one space – accessible to all of her partners – where she can store and collaborate on documents.

Many companies provide technical infrastructure to simplify the sharing and storage of business-related documents. Usually, these consist of network drives labeled with random letters of the alphabet (the C: drive, the N: drive, etc).

In some cases employees also keep files with cloud-based storage providers, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, when it’s necessary to share documents with external parties. Sharing is good, but generally, collaboration is the end game. And with Nitro Cloud, businesses can do both.

You see, Sue has collaboration needs beyond the traditional share-a-document-on-a-network-drive routine. She juggles the needs of multiple, competing constituencies, half of which are outside vendors.

Her current workflows involve emailing documents as attachments and using spreadsheets to track the progress of the ever-moving review/approval cycle. Project stakeholders send edited documents back to her via email, and she transfers all edits into the master versions one by one, to ensure nothing is missed.

Sue does her job well, but in the grand scheme she’s taking an old-school approach to these collaborative processes. Let’s look at how her workflows would change if she were using a collaboration tool like Nitro Cloud.

Managing the review process
In her company, training materials are customized for each individual program. To consolidate and coordinate all of the edits, Sue uploads the current workbook to Nitro Cloud. She invites stakeholders to review the workbook and authorizes them to insert their edits and annotations.

Each time a person accesses the document, Sue is notified via email. She does not have to pick through for “stealth edits” or guess who has or has not contributed. Sue can plainly see if a key stakeholder hasn’t viewed the workbook at all and can send a follow-up message.

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Executing vendor contracts
Sue must also coordinate contract execution with outside vendors. She can upload her company’s service provider agreements, insert fields for their initials and signatures, and send the contracts to the caterers, venues, and speakers her organization has hired for each training. Recipients can eSign the documents using Nitro Cloud, even if they don’t have an account.

Requesting and securing approvals
The final agenda for each training program is complex and the schedules are tight. To keep everything moving smoothly, Sue requests that each speaker review and acknowledge that she has correctly listed the time, location, and subject of their presentations.

She uploads the agenda to Nitro Cloud and places a field for each speaker to apply their initials for approval. At the bottom of the agenda, she inserts a signature field for the program manager to sign. This workflow simultaneously communicates, validates, and finalizes the agenda.

Tracking every step
Best of all, Sue always knows the status of her documents in Nitro Cloud. She can see whether a document has been viewed, is pending signature, or has been signed. She can also view the version history of any document she’s uploaded to see the evolution of the edits that her collaborators made.

Complex projects that involve multiple stakeholders are difficult to manage with the traditional file-sharing methodologies. Email attachments and shared network drives that offer no tracking or document protection can lead to inefficient execution of the project. And these days, who has time for that?

You can try all of the workflows mentioned in this post, free with a Nitro Cloud account. Sign up today!

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