Even if you run your own business, you still have to collaborate with others, whether it’s clients, subcontractors, employees, or vendors. Disorganized files and haphazard systems can only make effective team collaboration more difficult.
Here’s a look at five common barriers to collaboration, as well as strategies for working through them.
1. Missing documents
From finding an email attachment you received several weeks ago and forgot to download to managing multiple versions of the same document, handling digital or even hard copy files has gotten complicated!
The solution: Cloud-based document storage can help you locate files across multiple devices and ensure that everyone on your team can access the files they need.
2. Vague expectations
When team members don’t know when something is due or what tasks they’re specifically responsible for, they’re unlikely to follow through.
The solution: Using a project estimate gets everybody on the same page right from the outset. Follow up with a detailed project plan. The ability to look up a deadline or download a file rather than sending an email to ask also helps avoid unnecessary delays.
3. Missed deadlines
Projects can grind to a screeching halt when tasks are dependent on work from someone else but the other person drops the ball. That can set off a domino effect of more missed deadlines, which is frustrating for everyone involved.
The solution: Automated reminders for upcoming tasks can lift the project management burden and keep team members accountable.
4. Scope creep
When a client asks for work beyond what’s in your original agreement, that’s called scope creep. It’s not such a big deal if you bill by the hour, because your pay scales up as the project gets bigger, but if you bill in flat project fees, you lose money every time you agree to an extra revision or provide something that’s outside the project’s original scope.
The solution: Discuss changes in scope with your client and alert them that you’re need to bill for additional work. If you bill in project fees based on the number of hours you expect a project to take, then tracking your time can help you provide accurate estimates going forward.
5. Disagreement about what’s owed
Let’s imagine that you reach the end of a project. In your mind, you’ve done everything agreed upon. In their mind, they’re expecting something more. Maybe they thought their website would include SEO-optimized copy and social media share buttons. Or they wanted their blog post to include photos and social media copy but they failed to articulate that expectation.
The solution: Discuss the details of each project, including timelines, project specifications, number of revisions and deliverables, before you get started. Your contract should include a detailed contract or scope of work (SOW) so that you can refer back to the SOW if disagreements pop up later.
Foster smooth relationships
Being professional and organized can go a long way towards easing many of these pain points, as well as maintaining great client relationships.
Using the right tools can take the pressure off you as an individual and help remove many of the barriers listed above.
This guest post was written by Susan Johnston Taylor of FreshBooks for Fundbox. FreshBooks makes invoicing and accounting painless for millions of small business owners.