Digital collaboration: Working together as a team

Digital Collaboration: Headers

This blog article is based on a webinar recording on the topic of digital collaboration. You are welcome to watch the webinar or read the content as part of the blog article. Just learn how it suits you best.

As part of our “Volunteering in home office” series of topics in cooperation with the Haus des Stiftens, we present four blog posts on the topics of communication, digital cooperation, digital events and digital team building. Are you wondering how to work together successfully online with the right theory, technique and experience? Then you’ve come to the right place with this series of topics.

This blog post deals with the topic of collaboration. There are countless tools that make working, discussing and designing easier. However, these cannot always be transferred 1:1 to the digital world. How do we not only manage to share information online, but how do we manage to really work in a team and not just divide up individual tasks?

In this blog post you can find out in which points digital cooperation has to be thought differently and what peculiarities and limits there are.

4 pillars for successful digital collaboration

What organizational structures do we have?

There are many different options for an organizational structure. Either it was planned in this structure or it has grown over time.

1. Collaboration in Traditional Organization

In a traditional organization there are hierarchical structures with a boss. It is very clear who has authority over whom and there are very clear reporting lines. This organizational structure is often found in older and traditional organizations.

2. Cooperation in networks

There are different areas in a network that are clearly separated from each other. It is clear who the experts are for these individual areas. There is no hierarchy per se, but there is one person in each team who is responsible for passing on the information to other areas. In this organizational structure, there are many links between the individual teams, as they work together in different constellations for different projects. The management here works strongly on results. You want to see this and the individual areas are responsible for themselves. In addition to the individual teams, there is a management whose job it is to coordinate everything.

Digital collaboration: network building

3. Collaboration in agile organizations

Agile organizations thrive on the fact that there are small teams in which people from different departments work together. They are not divided according to subject areas and areas, but according to projects. The reports and information remain within this team as they are very focused on themselves and their projects.

Digital collaboration: agile organization

How do we manage tasks?

In task management, there are two different mechanisms one can opt for: push and pull.

Push: Someone in the team sets tasks and a deadline for the collaboration. It may even be determined who should take on which task. The task is thus actively handed over to another person.

Pull: With the pull method, there is a task pool with many different tasks within the collaboration. Here the members can independently select and edit a task. This is so actively taken by a person. This prevents multitasking and increases the motivation to work. The disadvantage can be that unpopular tasks may be left undone.

Methods and tools

There are many different tools for online collaboration. The challenge here is to find the right tool for you and your team. There’s no point in using tools that don’t match your team’s technical ability or equipment.

Waterfall method – start well prepared

As a first method, we would like to introduce you to the classic among the methods: The waterfall method (or Gantt chart). At the beginning of a project, tasks are jointly defined here. There is a desire to assign and define all tasks that arise in the course of the project right from the start. The focus here is on time. The individual tasks are assigned to fixed periods of time. Deadlines and appointments are set. With this method, it makes sense to set and define milestones. Where are we now? How much have we done? Milestones are the perfect moment to motivate each other, evaluate how things have gone so far and make decisions.

The focus of this method is that dependencies between the tasks are specifically presented and communicated. However, this leaves you with little flexibility. Due to the close classification at the very beginning with the push mechanism, there is only little personal responsibility. This can lead to low self-motivation.
It is important that you have access to a common document. All employees must be kept up to date at all times and be able to work with the current version.

Note: Intensive planning at the beginning is important. Responsibilities must be established as early as possible. The Gantt chart should be checked regularly. A project manager must be appointed. Evaluation milestones are important.

Our tool tip: Excel Spreadsheet, Google Spreadsheet, Agantty, Project Libre Cloud

Digital collaboration: waterfall method

Getting-Things-Done method – The right person for the best result

With the Getting-Things-Done method, as with the waterfall method, all upcoming tasks are collected and defined at the beginning. However, with this method, the tasks are discussed and reflected on in detail right from the start. So-called “task packages” are then put together. The focus is on the individual people in the team and their skills and not on the time. It is therefore important to assign the right person to the right task. The task packages allow individual tasks to be prioritized very well, since individual task packages can be pushed further forward or backward.

This creates a classic to-do list. This method gives the team members a clear head. It is more flexible than the waterfall method because you have not yet planned the entire project period. Prioritization is key here. Personal responsibility is in the mediocre range (push and pull are possible). The dependencies between the individual tasks are easy to control. With this method, progress can be clearly visualized. This can have a motivating effect on your team!

Note: Tasks should be assigned to individuals, not teams. Assigns permissions for specific tasks. Deadlines help to get unpleasant tasks done. Prioritize tasks. Make progress visible.

Our tool tip: Microsoft to do, Google Tasks, Monday

Digital collaboration: Getting-Things-Done method

Kanban method – I work better when I’m motivated

With the Kanban method, tasks are continuously collected throughout the process. Each team member can create a task and contribute their own ideas. This method works in a table in which the tasks can be moved from “ToDo” to “Doing” to “Done“. So the tasks keep moving. In this way, it is easy to observe which task is in which process at the moment. Here, each person can choose the task he/she wants and each person moves it independently in the table. This is a good example of a typical pull method: I choose which task I want to work on.

The focus is on choosing and working on tasks that you feel like doing on your own responsibility. Processing is decentralized and independent. The flexibility is very high here, since tasks can be processed at any time. The work is very dynamic, but dependencies and prioritization are difficult to identify. This method is particularly suitable for teams in which participants are only part of the team temporarily, as they can join quickly and the project does not depend on the participation of a specific person.

Note: Tasks must be well described. The time required should be
marked. All background information and required data should be stored. The board must be cleaned up regularly so that everyone can find their way.

Our tool tip: Cryptpad, Meistertask, Trello

Digital collaboration: Kanban method

Scrum – Together we are stronger

Scrum is a modified form of Kanban in which you prioritize tasks. These are also entered on a board, but work is done in cycles. All tasks are collected at the beginning. It is then determined which of these are to be completed in the next cycle (this can last 24 hours but also several days and weeks). The priorities apply to the entire team and the tasks are worked out piece by piece. Some flexibility is lost, but new tasks can still be added during the process.

Note: Not the responsibilities, but the skills are in the foreground. The fewer boards you work with, the better. Self-reliant meetings with data subjects should be held regularly. Procedure: Planning meeting –> Working phase with interim evaluation –> Closing meeting.

Our tool tip: Cryptpad, Meistertask, Trello

Digital collaboration: Scrum method

Task management and creative processes

In order to handle creative processes online and to work on them together, it is important to have the opportunity to collect and exchange ideas together. It is a great advantage if, for example, you can edit documents and designs together and all the information you need can be found in one place.

The whiteboard solution

Online it is possible to work with almost infinitely large flipcharts. Here you have a lot of leeway to exchange pictures, links and different information. This information can be edited together and results saved. In a team that is not digitally affine, however, this can quickly lead to excessive demands.

Our tool tip: Miro, Mural

The open platform solution

This is an easier option than infinite whiteboards. These options are structured in a similar way to a website. Many different texts, images and links can be stored here. The platforms are very text-structured, but different elements can be integrated.

Our tool tip: Notion, TiddlyWiki

Your strategy – decision-making processes in the project

The basis of your strategy is the structure of your organization. How do you make decisions and how do you want to work together? To develop a strategy, you should think about the following points:

  1. Should the tasks be assigned according to the “push” or the “pull” method?
  2. Who decides what your infrastructure looks like?
  3. Who maintains your infrastructure and which tools are used?
  4. Who trains the team and who introduces the different tools?
  5. Who sets the ultimate goal?

You have to make these decisions depending on your organizational structure, your team and the method you choose.
If you need help with these decisions, you can use the “Agathe helps” platform free of charge. Here you can get advice and find out together how you can work well together online.
You can also click here to see our offers.

Scroll to Top