How to successfully manage a collaborative Horizon Europe project

What do you and your teams need to know about managing a Horizon Europe project with numerous partners? Find out the 4 criteria for successful project management, as well as a list of must-haves a project management tool needs to fully support your projects.

Written by Stefan Detschew

Managing a project funded by the Horizon Europe programme is a highly complex process. Much like an orchestra it involves a variety of people with specific roles as individuals or teams that take place at varying times. The process of managing a collaborative Horizon Europe project covers initiating, planning, executing, and managing resources with the goal of completing specific deliverables within a given budget and time frame.

Quality project management means setting clear objectives and realistic plans with proper quality control and risk management; then delivering these objectives to project teams. With so many different parts and components happening at once, it’s important to have a singular project and work management tool that can let everyone see what’s happening in real time.

The key to a successful project is being able to meet the challenges it presents. Here’s our tips on how to meet these challenges and how a project and management tool can help ensure your success.

The 4 keys to success: time, budget, quality, and security

Projects succeed when they’re delivered on time, within budget, and with quality and security levels that are satisfactory to the EC.

Challenge #1: Finding consensus in order to deliver everyone their roles and responsibilities

It can be difficult for project teams to move forward with the project and execute the plan due to differences of opinion while finding an agreed outcome.

  • Success key = Time

The project planning process takes a lot of time. It’s vital to map out important steps of the process. Defining a common goal and laying out clear steps of the process are key elements for creating consensus. With so many different parts and components happening at once, it’s important to have a singular project and work management tool that can let everyone see what’s happening in real time.

Whether you’re a small team, or a large consortium, a project management tool allows you to clearly lay out the steps of the project with everyone involved in the consensus building process and, thus, gives yourself and your teams the time to focus on project planning instead of project administration.

Some project management tools, including EMDESK, have the versioning options which allow for you and your teams to work in multiple versions at one time, to discuss a multitude of options and switch back and forth until consensus is reached. On EMDESK, you can also use proven project templates to get your work started right away or design your project from scratch to suit your particular needs.

  • Success key = Quality

During and after the consensus and responsibility delegation process, the number of emails being sent with different versions of the same documents, ideas, and discussions can be overwhelming. Keeping track of the latest version can be a daunting task for anyone involved in the project. This task becomes even more challenging when you’re responsible for making sure everyone is discussing only the latest versions and topics.

With a project management tool, you can easily stop the cycle of endless emails, calls, and misinformation. Single project management solutions, like EMDESK, allow everyone to see the latest updates in real-time and stop double checking emails and making last minute changes to Excel sheets. Your project teams focus on their work instead of chasing down the latest version. As a secure, cloud based solution, EMDESK also allows project members to make updates quickly and easily from any location.

Challenge #2: Everyone is ready to work and knows exactly what they need to do

You’ve taken the time you need to build consensus and deliver responsibilities. To achieve the project‘s objectives, a good project manager uses a wide variety of knowledge, skills, techniques, and tools.

  • Success key = Time

As the project grows, so does the number of tasks and people involved. It’s easy to waste time and lose track of information when you need to constantly remind partners that they need to revise this or that. You can significantly save time by equipping your teams with the tools they need all in one place.

A project and work management tool, such as EMDESK, helps project teams organize their daily workflows. Everything from project planning, resource management, reporting, routine tasks can be planned and executed in one place. By bringing clarity and visibility to team members at every level, project and work management tools help project teams hit their goals faster.

For instance, EMDESK’s communication features allow teams or team members to speak by video, chat, or send messages without ever having to leave the site. Groups, @mentions, and powerful notification controls allow the right people to be informed about the updates and changes that matter, while letting those not involved concentrate on their work.

  • Success key = Quality

Project teams tend to struggle with trying to get an overview of all their tasks and responsibilities. Any partner failures or delayed deliverable consume lots of time and expenses, risking the project’s objectives, as well as your reputation.

Traditional project management tools are too rigid and time consuming for a collaborative Horizon Europe project in today's dynamic, professional environment. These tools suffer from issues with consistency and are unable to sync data real-time. The biggest issue with using tools like email, phone calls, Google Docs, Skype, Zoom, etc., is that it’s easy to miss out on vital information, forget logins, and have difficulties remembering what was shared where. Having information spread across so many platforms leads to lost time, inefficiency, and confused and frustrated partners.

Switching to a project management tool allows project managers to focus on moving the project forward instead of having all their time tied up in administration. Bringing the project workflow into one centralised hub, like EMDESK, will allow you to exercise quality control and respond quickly and with great agility to issues and changes.

By using a project management solution like EMDESK, you’ll be able to concentrate on the real roles of a project manager: to efficiently coordinate people and work across your project by making sure that everyone has the right information they need to do their most important work. Focusing on quality means facilitating important information in real-time to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. This is done by creating repeatable processes and using dependable systems will lead your project teams to success, and can be used for other ongoing or a future Horizon Europe project.

  • Success key = Budget

You need to constantly report the project's progress, so any large deviations or missed deliverables will raise questions from the project supervisor or/and project officer. These questions will deteriorate the level of trust between you and the project supervisor or project officer and create a great deal of additional work.

A project management solution helps you spend more time on strategic decisions in order to achieve the project's objectives and aimed results on schedule while using the budget in the best manner possible. With EMDESK’s collaborative financial planning and analytics features, you can get the information you need using custom views, filters, and tags to analyse and fine-tune your results and ensure that resources and capacities are smoothly and efficiently allocated. The ability to get an instant forecast of project or team funding with accurate comparisons of actual versus budgeted costs will allow you to instantly see any deviations as they occur and make the adjustments to keep your project on track.

  • Success key = Security

A Horizon Europe project contains personal, restricted, or even classified data that is core to your activity and competitive advantage. Data loss or unauthorised access must be prevented at all times. But also failure to follow GDPR comes with hefty financial penalties and can risk future grants.

Using a project management solution, different people and teams in a project will have different levels of access needs. Usually those with administrator level access to the project are able to control access throughout the project and document and file systems with a precise and cascading permission system. This allows admins to control each user’s or user group’s access throughout the project, while allowing project managers to further delineate permissions. In EMDESK, for example, project participation is limited to users invited to the project by a user with sufficient permissions, and range from full administrative privileges for that project, read/edit/manage permissions per section or element to read-only access.

Must-haves for a good project & work management tool

Project & work management tools give you the keys to success, but not all tools are created equal. Here’s a list of must-haves your project and work management tool needs to fully support you and your project.

1. Lets you design and budget multiple projects, at any scale or complexity, synonymously with all team members and stakeholders

A good tool will allow you to plan projects in a detailed and organised manner with plenty of team participation. Project plans always change. As such, you need a project management tool that will easily allow you to re-plan and reprioritise your project as needed. All this must be able to be done while still adhering to the scope and resources of the project, all while keeping everyone involved in the loop.

With EMDESK you will get a wide variety of real-time views of timelines and resources. This information allows teams to effortlessly schedule activities, estimate costs, and allocate resources, or make adjustments as needed. Use EMDESK’s ability to establish a hierarchy of tasks in order for them to be completed effectively and efficiently. Let teams and members know what they need to do when by indicating which steps are sequential and which tasks are dependent on one another.

2. Keeps your project on schedule and allows for people to work together efficiently

It’s vital that project teams are able to see the project objectives and finished deliverables as these help to guide everyone involved in the project in the same direction. The right project and work management tool will allow for visualisation of project objectives, deliverables, and milestones and keep all the project teams and partners on the same page by informing everyone in the team of what everyone else is doing.

With EMDESK everyone involved in the project is informed on the overall progress with intuitive regular status updates. Anyone in the team can gain valuable insights with one-click progress and financial reports at any time.

3. Provides you with powerful analytics and a complete bird’s-eye view of the project’s performance

You will make much more progress in a collaborative project if you can monitor how your project is progressing against your plan. This will make it easier to see which activities require extra attention and catch issues before they become problems. In order to achieve this goal, you need a project management tool that will provide you with powerful analytics.

It’s important to have a project and work management tool that not only provides a wealth of information for tactical decision making, but also consolidates and organises data across the whole project for strategic decision making. For example, the data-driven analytics of EMDESK enable project managers and executives to measure, observe, analyse project performance objectively, and make well informed decisions based on facts. Giving project teams visibility across activities, resources, and partners, that breadth of data and analysis helps keeping your Horizon Europe project on schedule and on budget by controlling overrun and deviation.


4. Has integrated collaboration tools that increases productivity and efficiency

Good communication is vital in all aspects of project management. A good project and work management tool should link data and information to project objectives in an easily accessible manner for everyone.

The chances of achieving project goals increase when the information flow is managed in a strategic and organised manner. An optimised flow of information eliminates redundant communication, increases team productivity, and improves the quality of results. Provide your teams with advanced communication tools which allow them to collaborate in real-time. EMDESK allows team members to discuss any outstanding work, share documents, have video calls and conferences on a single platform.

5. Makes sharing data easy and allows multiple people to work on the same document simultaneously

Project management entails keeping track of hundreds of documents, project proposals, deliverables, reports, publications, etc. The best part about project and work management tools is a centralized document repository in which project members can store and access files and documents.

Cloud-based document repositories streamline the entire project. EMDESK’s secure document repository also features an integrated online editor that allows for co-authoring documents with all team members in real-time. You can also choose from a wide variety of project templates, like proposals or reports to start working right away. With embedded tables and charts that auto-update with the latest project data, your project proposals, reports, or any other documents are always up-to-date.


6. Provides the highest security and confidentiality standards

EU funded research projects must follow Europe’s GDPR regulations. For this reason, enterprise class security, GDPR-compliance, precise access controls, and action logs should be the priority of any project and work management tool.

To ensure the highest infrastructure security, EMDESK is designed from the ground up with security in mind and is hosted with the Open Telekom Cloud – one of the most secure and modern cloud data centers in the world.

It puts enterprise class security measures in place with strong technical, logical, and legal precautions to protect your data from loss or unauthorised access. EMDESK provides multiple layers of protection as well as controls that enable you to meet all the security needs of today's safety-conscious enterprises.

The proven project & work management solution that leads your Horizon Europe project to success

The whole workflow with EMDESK becomes improved when people are able to collaborate in real-time on a variety of tasks. Every partner benefits with the automation of routine processes that enable faster decision-making. EMDESK eliminates the chaos and frustration of shared unsecure networks, as well as the risk of information. With personalised solutions and a proven record of success, we’re ready to help you focus less on administration and give you time to focus your teams on the project’s objectives.

This article is written by Stefan Detschew, Chief Technology Officer at EMDESK.

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