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Social networking as a tool for managing projects?

Social networking as a tool for managing projects?

  • Comments 8

So here’s how my day typically goes. Wake up, get the kid breakfast, check email, check Facebook, eat some cereal, check Twitter, do some work, check Twitter again, do some more work, check Facebook, back to work…you get the point. Some people might look at this pattern and say, “Hey lady, get to work, check Facebook on your own time.” Fair enough. Except if you look at my list of friends, the majority of them are coworkers, and while learning what my coworkers have going on outside of work isn’t entirely work-related, it’s great for morale and really makes me feel a lot closer to the people I work with. And we all know that understanding the personalities of team members leads to a more functional team, right? (Thanks Myers-Briggs!)

Anyway my point here is that, for better or worse, social networking is clearly pervasive in my life, blurring the lines between work and home. I’m sure the same can be said for many of you.

One interesting conversation that I saw going on recently on Twitter was around the idea of using these social networking tools for project communication. Frankly, I’ve got some mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, many of us are already tapped into Twitter/Facebook/whatever, so there’s the efficiency factor: if my teammate is tweeting about a dependency slipping, and my kid is tweeting about how much she hates her math homework, I can quickly get caught up on both fronts using a single tool. Sweet. There’s also the camaraderie factor: my teammate updates her Facebook status to indicate her general displeasure with how a vendor relationship is going, and I can comment on that, saying that I totally agree and it totally blows…now we’re communicating at a watercooler level, and we both feel a little better knowing that we’re both in the same boat.

However, the flip side is consideration of privacy. If you’re tweeting about a dependency slipping, A) you’d better be careful not to inject too much emotion, in case the owner of that dependency sees your tweet, and B) you’d better watch what you disclose about your project, in case the rest of the world isn’t supposed to know about Feature X, let alone that it’s slipping.

So while I do see the merit in social networking for work purposes, I’m not sold on social networking for project purposes. Seems like it’s a little too easy to get yourself in hot water unintentionally. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you use any social networking tools for your projects? What kinds of guidelines do you follow, if any? If you’re not using social networking tools for your projects right now, why not? What’s on that “flip side” for you?

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  • Sonia

    I have read your post with great interest.

    I actually do not use any social networking tools for my projects.

    Being a FB member my initial comment would be:"definitely no!"

    You are right in pointing out how easy would be to get yourself in hot water unintentionally.

    Also, it may happen you are involved in managing more than one project at a time (very frequent on my case), and not always you may want the others to know where you are heading.

    Ciao,

    Pino

  • That's a great point, Pino. As helpful as it might be to use things like Twitter or Facebook to communicate, some projects really require communication to stay within the team itself.

    Of course, there are ways to help streamline project communication using tools like Outlook or SharePoint. I'm thinking of things like using rules in Outlook, or using discussion boards in SharePoint. Would love to hear other tips from anyone who has them...

    Info on rules in Outlook:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA100968031033.aspx

    Info on discussion boards in SharePoint:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointserver/HA100867281033.aspx

  • Ouch!

    Using rules in Outlook to help streamline project communication.

    This sounds Yummy (if it makes sense). I have no experience in this and I look forward to reading any contribute on this matter.

    Something to explore and develop.

    Thank you Sonia for this idea

    Ciao,

    Pino

  • Hi Sonia,

    Great post, and well worth considering. I've actually been thinking about this situation a lot myself, and I really do feel that social networking tools (SNT) could serve an extremely beneficial role in managing projects. However, in order for them to serve the purposes of good and not evil for your project (or your career), they should be used intentionally rather than in an ad-hoc manner.

    FWIW, here are some considerations that may help reduce the risk of career limiting moves with Facebook, Twitter, or other SNTs.

    1. Don’t use a personal account to collaborate on your project. It’s easy to create multiple accounts, and you could have both a work and personal account. Heck, you can create an account that is used just for one project. By separating accounts, you’re able to *focus* on what’s relevant at the time, rather than being distracted by your kid’s latest tweet. Keeping  up with multiple accounts may seem a drag; however, the ability to focus is worth it. Plus, there are a range of tools that allow you to manage multiple accounts, such as these 25 tools available for Twitter (http://tinyurl.com/pefxku).

    2. Consider and gain consensus among your project stakeholders on how to use the tools as part of your project, and document that methodology in your project’s communications plan. If everyone agrees on what tools will be used, when and how communication will take place, and what sort of messages/content should be shared, there’s the likelihood of greater value.

    3. Utilize the privacy features available in these tools so that your project information isn’t shared with the world. Twitter and Facebook accounts can be closed to only the friends of the person. Tools like www.yammer.com (a Twitter clone that’s tweaked for corporate use) allow more restrictions on participation and use, along with guarantees on privacy and security. Tools like www.ning.com allow the creation of social networks that could be used specifically for projects. I use SharePoint for a lot of projects now as well: the announcements, discussion lists, wikis, are great for real time updates, and collaborative requirements gathering and statusing.

    Thanks again for a juicy topic!

    Bud Ratliff, MVP Project

    www.twitter.com/budr

  • A friend tweeted your blog.  Very interesting.  I agree that social network sites and project management should not be used together.

    I have recently ran across a product that Microsoft offers for this exact purpose that kind of works along the lines of sharepoint.

    Its called office live.  I believe it is in beta testing now but is available free to the public.

    http://www.officelive.com/

    I would be interested in hearing your comments on this product.

    Thanks

    Jeff

  • It has been interesting to track the latest Project Management buzz about Twitter during the past few

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