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Social Media: Delivering for Project Management?


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Presentation given to Projekt Management Austria conference, PMA Focus, on 18th October 2012.
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Social media offers us new ways of communicating and new ways of connecting with people. An important part of project management is effective communication, so at first glance social media should be able to help us deliver our projects. But is this really the case? Do the methods of social media, and the ethos behind it, really assist us in bringing in projects on time, on budget, at the required quality? Can tweets really help deliver a project?

At first glance, the worlds of project management and social media would appear to be very far apart. The ethos of each can seem to be in direct opposition to the other, leading to strong questions as to how they can ever hope to be used together.

For example, project management is traditionally formal and defined - it deals with the assignment of work, monitoring and control of that work, and rigid reporting routes. Social media, by contrast, is designed to allow conversations, information sharing, and collaboration with self-selecting groups.

The truth is, while project management can have its formal structures, it is also at its heart about effective communication. In the past we have used strict methods of delivering this communication to ensure it is timely, accurate, and effective - but couldn't the tools of social media, which is all about communication - allow us to improve on this?

This talk will look at the new possibilities provided by social media, and try to understand how, and if, they can be brought together with project management to provide effective tools. We will look at the different technologies that exist under the social media banner, such as blogs, Twitter, and business networking like LinkedIn, and try to define if they are really offering improvements to the way we currently work, or if they instead present revolutionary changes that require a wholesale re-evaluation of how we manage our projects.

By the end of this talk, I hope to enable you to make sensible judgements about which social media tools you can start using right now to improve your project management, and to answer the important question: is social media really delivering what project management needs?

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Social Media: Delivering for Project Management?

  1. 1. Social Media: Delivering for Project Management? Trevor Roberts Ryton Projects Ltd
  2. 2. Social Media vs Project Management
  3. 3. Blogs  One to Many  Low barrier to entry  Based around interest areas or issues
  4. 4. Commenting Brings in thereaders Allows everyone tocontribute Builds community
  5. 5. Social Networking  Facebook et al  Many to Many  Broad appeal  Target audience can be wide or narrow
  6. 6. Web of connectionsBased around individuals, not interests
  7. 7. Twitter / Yammer Many to Many Follow lists Non-reciprocal Can be open orclosed 1000 Words /
  8. 8. Conversations  @replies allow people who dont follow you to be informed you are talking to them  Hashtags allow people interested in a certain topic to know what others are saying
  9. 9. Social Media: Organic, non- hierarchical Flat structure Open to all Self-organising through follow lists / connections
  10. 10. “Traditional” Project Management: Defined, hierarchical  Non-flat structure  Open to selected people  Externally organised
  11. 11. Making use of the tools  External to the project  Internal to the project
  12. 12. External Communication Progress reporting Keeping stakeholdersinformed Gathering informationfrom target audience
  13. 13. Two way communication flow  Social media means everyone is invited  Dont just send out information  Take advantage of the new communication channel to improve your project
  14. 14. Internal communicationDifferent types of projects: Projects to deliver significant physical objects – buildings, ships, etc. Projects to deliver virtual objects – software applications, business processes, etc. Projects to deliver hybrid solutions – upgraded IT infrastructure and systems, consumer electronics devices, etc.
  15. 15. Physical Projects Well understood problem Limited changes possible after design phase Little autonomy of individual teams
  16. 16. Virtual Projects Less well understood problem – but improving Changes within components possible until delivery Great deal of autonomy for individual teams
  17. 17. “Black box” delivery  What goes in is important  What comes out is important  What happens inside is not – so long as it does the job
  18. 18. Team communications  Simple, clear, quick communication  Conversational  Second best to face to face Brings geographicallydispersed teamstogether Multiple team membersinvolved All able to contribute
  19. 19. Hybrid Projects Mixture of the two previous types Different areas can cope with different amounts ofchange Different teams will have different levels ofautonomy
  20. 20. Disruptive effects  Incremental improvement versus dramatic change  Evolution versus revolution  New ways of working
  21. 21. Online PM tools Trello ( Wrike ( Basecamp ( AgileZen ( 5pm ( Huddle ( … and many more
  22. 22. Example: Virtual Kanban Kanban – effective way of managing workflow Successfully used in many software projects Central concept requires a physical board whole team can see – impossible with co- located teams Photographs of board are not interactive Trello allows online, virtual Kanban boards Available online to everyone in the project
  23. 23. New ways of delivering projects? Completely outsourced team Recruitment through online tools Communication via social media All of this is already possible with the tools we have
  24. 24. Free Software Project Global, ad-hoc project to develop free and open operating system and software tools Originally using proto-social media – mailing lists, newsgroups, IRC, etc. Organic management structure developed Continues to this day
  25. 25. Example: Local Government IT Hybrid project – physical IT infrastructure and virtual software platforms Microsoft Sharepoint technology Project and team blogs Document repository Collaborative working Wikis
  26. 26. Outside of projects...
  27. 27. Social Media: Delivering for Project Management? Blog tools can be used for every project Virtual and hybrid projects can benefit from Twitter-like tools also Online collaboration tools extend the consumer social media technologies – useful for all projects Disruptive effects can be expected... … but we dont know what theyll be!
  28. 28. ThanksTrevor Roberts: @trev_roberts