Collaborative Business Writing
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– Tips for Successful Business Writing Collaboration –
Even with exceptional team members, collaborative writing cannot be done without good project structure. Collaborative writing is most successful when a clear outline or guide for the project has been established and used a tool of reference for everyone. Once the various tasks of assigning the group leader and outlining team responsibilities has been completed, the group is much more prepared to work and will know what is expected of them.
Before any collaboration process can begin, the purpose of the project must be identified. One of the most common questions a leader can receive is “Why are we doing this?” or “What’s the point?” Once the collaboration team has been assembled, it is best to have some sort of group meeting to discuss the purpose of the project and what their role in this purpose is. Take this time to define the group goal and what specific objectives you hope to accomplish over the course of the project. The goal of the introductory meeting is to ensure that everyone is aware of the purpose of the project and will have the same goals/purposes in mind. It is best to start everyone out on the same page now than trying to reach a consensus after the ball has started rolling.
Formulate Outline and Organizational Format
Once a collaboration project has been introduced and team members are aware of what needs to be done, they can then move on to outlining and organizing the project. Determine the major parts of the project and outline how they are linked together. Although this is not the stage in which to assign tasks and duties, it is alright to introduce team members to the area they may be working on and prepare them to be more informed about it later. Once the format and outline are determined, lay out any standards for aspects such as heading, titles and general format rules. Explain to the group that while it is reasonable to stray from the outline to some degree, the structure is firm and will need to be followed as close as possible so the group can collaborate smoothly and effectively.
When Choosing a Team Leader, Remember…
Before the team can be divided into different task areas and responsibilities, there must be a team leader assigned to manager and oversee the group as a whole. When addressing the group and introducing the team leader, define what this leader’s roles and responsibilities will be. In many cases, the team leader is someone who does not necessarily have more power over any other team member or have the ability to make stand-alone decisions, but they are responsible for organizing the project, facilitate team progress and help coordinate team member activities and tasks.
Common responsibilities of a team leader:
- Keeping the project flowing over time
- Define tasks and duties for other team members
- Enforce deadlines and group communication
- Help mediate conflict and disagreements
Assign Writing Tasks and Associated Duties
One of the final steps of establishing the collaboration group is determining what writing tasks need to be completed and which employees will be assigned to do them. When making the assignments, remember to consider the talents and areas of expertise of each team member as well as any background experience in the current field. It is also not uncommon to assign some of the more complicated or complex assignments to more experienced personnel. For the writing crew, determine who will be content writers and if there will be separate editors to assist them. Each writer may need to be given a different portion of the task if the project is larger. For the staff not directly involved in the writing portion, don’t forget to assign any other various duties needed, such as conducting research, gather information from different sources, distributing/making copies, or producing document samples. When the team knows what part they play in the project ahead of time, they are more likely to realize the value of their contribution and will be more willing to participate.
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