The Collaborative Project Management Framework


Making it easier to collaboratively manage successful projects


In recent years, there has been a shift away from the traditional managerial hierarchies to a much more collaborative approach to managing projects, which emphasizes teamwork and cooperation.

At BrightWork, we believe collaborative project management is the best way for teams to achieve their project goals. But, we know it’s not easy. Project teams face numerous obstacles to success – remote teams, poor tools, inconsistent processes, too much process, and so on.

In 2010, we published a collaborative project management guide on our website to address these needs. In 2016, the guide evolved into a first edition of Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook.

The second edition of the book was published in 2017 and included the addition of a three-step framework – Collaborate, Lead, and Evolve.


A Three-Step Framework for Collaborative Project Management


The framework, built upon three guiding principles and nine practice areas, is outlined below to help you get started with collaborative project management.

You can also download a free copy of the complete handbook here.

Three Guiding Principles

Collaborate to Innovate

Projects deliver the innovations groups need to progress and projects are best delivered in a collaborative fashion with the entire team.

Lead to Succeed

The most successful projects get real leadership from both the project manager and all of the team members.

Evolve to Grow

Successful collaborative project management is not a capability acquired in a day; it evolves and develops in time.

The Nine Practice Areas



The practices of collaborative project management help all team members to fully engage and contribute in a meaningful way to a successful project outcome. Critically, the practices also provide guidance for new and ‘accidental project managers’ who lack formal project management training.

1. Plan Together: It is best to have the team who will deliver the project involved in planning. The quality of the resulting plan will be better and the engagement of all team members will be higher.

2. Act Together: It is very desirable to have the team act in unison on the project. We all want our project teams to know what is happening and to know what they have to do to ensure the project success.

3. Track Together: The extended team (project manager, team members, senior executives, customers, etc.) will need to track what is happening and not happening on the project in order to constructively contribute to the project outcome.

Since many of the team will have no formal or even informal project management training, it is important to make templates, stages, and steps easily accessible in a project site to guide the collaborative project management practices.


It goes without saying that leadership is required to successfully deliver an amazing project, but what does this mean in practice?

4. Personal Leadership: The entire project team, and especially the project manager, need to be at their best and will ideally bring their ‘A game’ to the project. The team needs to be in a good place personally and this, while desirable on so many levels, does not happen by accident. This requires investment and personal management in areas such as attitude, awareness, personality, and time-management. As it happens, this level of personal leadership also develops the same practices and habits that lead to a happier and healthier personal life.

5. Situational Leadership: A project team encounters many common repeated situations, including various types of meetings, decisions, variable performance, awkward communications, unclear roles and responsibility lines etc. It is helpful and important to have patterns, practices, and protocols to successfully manage these recurring situations.

6. Cultivate Leadership Style: The world is evolving to a place where more and more of our people want, deserve and are being given leadership responsibilities. In many cases this responsibility is not accompanied by line management authority, nor does it need to be. This ask or grant requires that each person has a leadership style that they can call on, is adaptable, and compatible with the requirements of collaborative project management. It is also important that the organization develops project and team models designed to accommodate and encourage these higher levels of leadership.




Successful growth in the practices of collaborative project management and leadership, as described above, requires a focused investment. It requires an approach. The REP protocol presents three very simple but trusted practices to help individuals and thus organizations to grow in a gradual but sure manner. REP stands for Research, Execute and Post-Mortem. REP is a play on the word ‘repetition’ and repetition is, of course, an important aspect of mastery.

7. Research: This first phase is spent seeking out and learning new practices, skills and ideas. Any interesting findings are logged in a REP Journal. The research phase ends by selecting a handful of practices to try.

8. Execute: This second phase is where time is allocated to experiment with these new ideas, to try them for real. The Execute phase is necessary to see how the practices from one arena can be adopted locally. It is in this doing that the much of the real learning takes place.

9. Post-Mortem: This third phase allows the time and space to reflect on the outcomes of the new practices. This reflection requires a time out, however short. The end result of the Post-Mortem may likely be a commitment to REP again at some later date, to add or sharpen more practices.

REP is designed to be repeated any time new skills, habits, practices are desired and REP is a very simple, efficient and effective personal change management process.

Exercise – Do You Need Collaborative Project Management?

Still not sure if your organization needs a formal approach to project management? Try our quick self-test to assess your current status.

1. Are projects meeting expectations?

2. Do you have sufficient visibility into projects?

3. Is your project team trained?

4. Do you have access to local guidance?

If you answer no to these four questions, it probably makes sense to develop or find some local project management guidance.

It’s also a good idea to ask senior management to take this quiz, especially if they are hesitant to support project management. Hopefully, the results will prompt a discussion about the current approach to project management and how to make improvements.

”I recommend a project manager struggling on a team read the Collaborative Project Management Handbook. […]
The book is free and the tips are perfect for a team that hasn’t adopted a structured project management methodology or framework.”

Joel Oelson, SharePoint Influencer, The Collaboration Show