It is hard to believe, but One Stop For Writers is only a month away from release! As such, I thought I’d tackle the team aspect of getting a giant project off the ground, seeing as we had a great post recently on how authors can collaborate on writing a novel. Many of the same factors are at work, regardless of the project.
Understanding and respecting each person’s skill set, communication style and expertise is really critical for working together, because no one person can do it all when it comes to a big project. (Or if they can, quality and efficiency is sacrificed.) So for us, we needed to suss out who was good at what, and learn to trust judgement, let go of ownership, and support one another as we all took on different roles.
Becca and I already work together well, which is a real blessing. But it also created some challenges, because we are used to communicating and doing things a certain way. When you add a third to the mix, some of these methods and styles don’t fit, and so a person has to be willing to adapt.
Case in point: Becca and I communicate a lot, discussing everything upfront so we problem solve and make sure we’re on the same page. However, too much communication creates a lot of extra reading for Lee, who is task-focused. So we needed to learn how to be more economical so we didn’t drown him in email.
Because Becca and I plan extensively, once we decide on a path, we usually stick to it. This has worked very well with our books and joint business planning, but with software, we quickly saw adaptability is just as important, especially when you are working with a creative-focused developer. Lee would come up with functionality ideas that would trigger more content ideas from us, and we would have to adjust the plan. This led to some great new implementations.
However it created the challenge of sticking to our timeline and core tasks. Eventually we had to turn off the idea tap and stick to what we had in the works, saving other ideas for later updates. As a result, we also had to push out our timeline (a good thing, as the first one was far too optimistic, and impossible to meet).
BATTLE PLANS: ASSIGNING GENERALS
Dividing and conquering became ultra important. Lee, naturally, took on everything technical, both from a software build perspective as well as a technical operations standpoint. He researched and set up our commerce system, interfaced with the site designer and set up the communication system within One Stop. He also is working with the beta testers to test and fix everything that comes up, another huge part of any software build. (And speaking of, thank you beta testers–we love you so much!)
Becca (bless her) took on the business end of things, namely getting all the paperwork in order to form a new company where the parties all lived in different countries (not easy!), working with a lawyer to create contracts and file for trademarks, she set up bank accounts, and handles our accounting. All this in addition to creating new entries, adapting and formatting old ones, and doing the final pass editing for the site (a HUGE job).
I focused on new content generation, building most of the tools and generators, helped to expand old content and write page content, create auto communications, and handled anything marketing and promotion that wasn’t technical in nature, including building and managing social media platforms, newsletters, launch planning and crowd sourcing.
WORKING TOGETHER ON A SCHEDULE
We filled in to help one another as well so we could meet individual deadlines or assist during busier times. Becca took on managing the explainer video we’re having built, and Lee is taking on the tutorial video, two very important pieces of the puzzle. And we all collaborated to get our branding in place.
One of the big challenges for our collaboration is time zones. Becca (in Florida USA), is two hours ahead of me (in Alberta, Canada) which isn’t too bad, but Lee (in Sydney, Australia) is a whopping sixteen hours ahead. When we needed to all discuss something using Skype, we only had a small window to do so. Sometimes decisions and feedback would suffer delays. Becca and I both tried to adjust our working hours a bit to include evenings so we could work though things in real time with Lee.
FINDING A HUB: HAVE YOU HEARD OF FREEDCAMP?
Luckily as well, Lee set us up with a site called Freedcamp, which became our hub for communication, file sharing and collaboration. It’s a great site for projects like these, allowing for you to set milestones and tasks with due dates assigned to specific people. I highly recommend it if you need a home base for group projects!
All in all, I am thrilled at how well we work together. Our personality traits seem to bring out the best in each other, and create a check and balance system. Once again, I feel like the universe seems to be on our side, and the synergy between Lee, Becca and I makes us all very excited for whatever the future holds.
If you have any questions about how to collaborate with your own team, I am happy to answer them!