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Social project management – the way forward?

Posted in , , by on September 23, 2015 and has no comments yet

Your project management approach needs to be based on constant transformation and improvement, whichever method you are following. Traditional ways of managing projects are being challenged, particularly in the rigid structure of project communication and documentation. And, due to the fact that by 2025, nearly 75% of workforces will be comprised of Generation Y employees, this trend is set to continue.

What is social project management?

Adding the word ‘social’ to anything these days is nothing new – from the way we book restaurant tables, order shopping and stay in touch with friends – it’s common for us to expect a social element with the various tools and apps available. But thinking about something work-related, such as project management, is quite different.

Unlike traditional project management approaches that heavily rely on trusted documents, processes and procedures, social project management can get things off the ground quicker, create greater collaboration (especially for dispersed teams and stakeholders) and requires less extensive documentation. You could say it’s more agile, even more so than the agile project management methodology itself!

Some of the main features of social project management include:

  • Using social collaboration tools to communicate with project team members, i.e. Yammer, Dropbox, Facebook pages, Google+, using # for easy searching, updates via YouTube or Vine, crowdsourcing for ideas etc. – all relying less on emails and standard reporting (that no one reads anyway)
  • Integrating social project management tools into an organisation’s system architecture is key so they are more easily accessible – there are so many on the market now, including Jira, Asana, Basecamp, Huddle, Mavenlink, Ganttic, LiquidPlanner, Comidor, DeskAway and many more
  • Creating virtual communities – involving more than just the project team – even external parties can provide their input and advice to problems
  • Face to face meetings are less important than quick updates (and decisions) made on the go using phone communication apps like Whatsapp and Skype
  • Creating a communications loop for instant feedback both within the project team and across the organisation as a whole (instead of presenting the finished item at the end, internal communications tools like Yammer can be used)
  • Seamless online collaboration – activity streams show progress to everyone – not just the board (this also creates more accountability)
  • WIIFM? A what’s in it for me question will crop up in social project management – even for less senior members, whereas the traditional project way often only benefits the senior stakeholders/shareholders/board. Everyone needs to feel like they are contributing and playing an important part.
  • Transparency – no longer locking down information, instead creating an open forum with all stakeholders, including clients and vendors (often scary for old school project managers to lay everything out on the table for all to see!)
  • Gamification – particularly for younger project teams, creating a fun and competitive element can drive better results and greater engagement, and this has been proven to work already
  • Honesty and integrity – whilst also important in all projects, social project management relies on openness so creating unrealistic schedules and expectations won’t deliver the best result or the happiest team

Why go social for project management?

Often a project team only works together for a finite time, possibly whilst also working on other projects simultaneously so having quick and easy access to the latest updates on each work stream has obvious advantages for productivity.

Add to that the globalisation of our workforce; managing projects more socially could mean getting updates and feedback on decisions made in APAC during the day from the European team members checking their phones before heading into the office for the start of their day. This would replace some of the traditional, lengthy and hard-to-coordinate conference calls that organisations waste so much time on (and get very little value from).

Embedding social project management into your organisation also shows the workforce and talent you are trying to attract that you know where the business world is heading and that you want to be part of the trend, not a curious spectator. It’s not just about appeasing Gen Y but creating a more collaborative approach to project management in general, and that can only be a good thing!

What does Asq say? 

The principles of social project management do not and should not detract from the same outcome as traditional methods, but bringing project management and social tools together makes sense for businesses of all sizes. Communication is key in projects and social collaboration makes that easier.

Talk to the Asq team about how your next project could go social!

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