Monthly Archives: March 2011

Project Management 2.0 – Was it really about Project Management?

In response to project management challenges, project teams have turned to technology to attempt to reduce the costs of collaboration.  The most visible recent development in technology-enabled project collaboration is the movement called “Project Management 2.0”.  Project Management 2.0 has been defined in a number of ways, but the basic definition given is that Project Management 2.0 is the use of web 2.0 technologies to enable project teams to better share information, increase collaboration and to empower teams to get things done.

“Problems” with Project Management 2.0

Defined by technology

However, a problem with the current understanding of Project Management 2.0 is that it is difficult to define what it is, without discussing the role of technology.  Additionally, it is difficult to define what makes a particular technology a “Project Management 2.0” technology. The most common example used is the “Project Wiki”, where all of the team members can update as necessary the tasks required, the status of tasks, project documentation and the like, and blogs have also been proposed as PM 2.0 technology, but other technologies as diverse as Voice over IP (VoIP), internet search engines and wifi have been put forward as PM 2.0 technologies.  Because all of these technologies are general purpose technologies, it is hard to define when their use is for “project management”, rather than general collaboration, or simple user enablement.

Technology Islands

Although they helped teams to collaborate, web 2.0 technologies came at a price.  First, the technologies were islands.  Users had to maintain accounts with a variety of providers, project team members might have to use multiple technologies for the same interactions across different projects.  Second, many companies could not make use of the “free” web2.0 applications due to regulatory, privacy or other security & administrative reasons.  Companies in this situation would need to provide internally hosted web 2.0 technologies, reducing the cost benefit of utilization.  Third, few of these technologies were integrated with the enterprise architecture.

Project Management Process Largely Absent

Finally, the project management 2.0 “wave” seems to have left the Project Manager behind.  While project collaboration can be significantly enhanced, and project task management and tracking is possible, web 2.0 technologies do not address the core challenges that the project manager faces, nor do they assist the project manager in the aggregation of information about the project.  In fact, because of their distributed nature, these technologies increase the project manager’s difficulty of assessing progress and status.

What about Project Management 2.0 integrated systems?

Greatly improving upon the ad-hoc use of Web2.0 technologies, PM 2.0 platforms such as @task, and (many) others emerged.  While these platforms integrated Web 2.0 capabilities into a unified project management platform, adoption still involves the creation of a technology island, usually hosted in the cloud, with little visibility outside the immediate project team members who are given access to the platform.

Even with these “problems”, we believe that Project Management 2.0 was and is a positive development for project teams’ collaboration and knowledge sharing. Project Management 2.0 empowered a project team to collaborate to complete tasks.  What is needed, and what Social Project Management endeavors to make possible, is the next generation of project management visibility, taking the benefits of PM 2.0, integrating rich and rigorous project management tools, and adding to that the engagement of the full social network of the project community, in order to achieve the project’s goals.

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Social Project Management is Different from Project Management 2.0

Many people use the terms Social Project Management(SPM) and Project Management 2.0 (PM2.0) interchangeably.  Heck, even wikipedia thinks they’re the same thing, but it’s wrong.  While PM 2.0 focused primarily on enabling online collaboration within the team, and to a lesser extent with providing dashboards for reporting, and other basic project management automation, SPM’s focus is fundamentally different.  SPM is focused on connecting the project to the wider social network of an organization or web of organizations to both manage the project and to manage exceptions.  PM2.0 platforms rarely are connected to a wider social network and generally are closed to non-team members.

Because Deloitte stresses the need for social software to manage exceptions, let’s compare SPM and PM2.0 using Deloitte’s framework:

First, social business software helps identify expertise, either via directly querying the social network or by identifying the creators of valuable content.

  • PM2.0 – Most PM2.0 platforms are hosted externally, not integrated with the enterprise systems of a company, and access is supplied only to team members.
  • SPM – Social project management embeds project management into the social platform of the organization.  It allows for project issues to be “broadcast” to the entire social network of the team, rather than being confined within the project team boundaries.  Because of this, important expertise from outside the team can be brought to bear on the team’s issues and opportunities.

Second, social business software breaks down traditional barriers  within companies and across value chains.  Because communication and conversation more seamlessly and extensively crosses organizational boundaries with the aid of social business software, both the communication and awareness of exceptions are more widely disseminated – in sharp contrast to traditional, team-oriented, direct communication paradigms.

  • PM2.0 – Again, because of the fragmented and siloed nature of most PM2.0 platforms, PM2.0 systems reinforce and create boundaries.
  • SPM – Social project management enables communication via the microblogging and re-posting paradigms common to today’s social software platforms.  By disseminating issues widely, SPM provides a true communication advantage over PM2.0

Third, social business software preserves institutional memory, and because the various institutional memory contexts are now integrated into the social platforms, data is now available that allows organizations to analyze and discover issues and opportunities that were previously hidden..

  • PM2.0 – Because PM2.0 systems are many times adopted for projects one at a time, and because even in the same organization multiple PM2.0 platforms may be adopted, institutional memory is replaced by individual memory.
  • SPM – Social project management is all about integration into the social platform of the company.  SPM stores documents and other project information into the social platform, making it part of the larger institutional memory.

PM 2.0 was a great first step into the realm of web project management systems.  However, it was focused on within-team communication and collaboration, and because of this reinforced the team boundary.  Social business software is all about breaking down boundaries and managing exceptions. If your project management system cannot help you to manage exceptions, it’s not a social project management system.  If you’re not managing exceptions, you’re falling behind on your projects.

Social Software and Business Performance (Part 2)

In the first part of this post, we described the importance of user-recognized value (i.e. – the system helps users get the job done) as key to true adoption of social business software.

As we continue to examine the Deloitte Report discussed previously, the point is made that in this new world of near-constant disruption exceptions will no longer be exceptional, but rather will be the norm.

Social Business software is particularly adept at assisting with the management of exceptions.  Deloitte notes this example:

“Sales Associates at Avaya use … microblogs to tap into what their peers are saying. Using the tool, they can glean competitive intelligence, stay attuned to marketplace trends, and access materials to use with clients. When a Sales Associate encounters an exception, he or she searches conversations on Socialcast to see if anyone else has dealt with a similar situation. This easy access to institutional memory saves time. If a Sales Associate does not find a discussion about a similar exception, he or she can post a question to the group, eliminating the time-consuming process of identifying the right person or e-mailing a massive list-serve and receiving redundant responses.”

As the report illustrates with this example, social business software assists in the identification of knowledge – be it digital or human – to resolve business exceptions.  Other ways that social business software can help address exceptions are also illustrated in the Deloitte example.

First, social business software helps identify expertise, either via directly querying the social network or by identifying the creators of valuable content.

Second, social business software breaks down traditional barriers  within companies and across value chains.  Because communication and conversation more seamlessly and extensively crosses organizational boundaries with the aid of social business software, both the communication and awareness of exceptions are more widely disseminated – in sharp contrast to traditional, team-oriented, direct communication paradigms.

Third, social business software preserves institutional memory.  While software systems have preserved information regarding exceptions (call center software, anyone?) for generations, what’s important about social business platforms is that they integrate numerous exception generating contexts onto a single social awareness platform.  While previous generations of systems might preserve the memory, the archives remain very limited with respect to context and awareness of the memory.

Finally, because the various institutional memory contexts are now integrated into the social platforms, data is now available that allows organizations to analyze and discover issues and opportunities that were previously hidden.

Exceptions are more likely to be encountered in the arena of projects and project management than in any other place within an organization.  Because of this, social project management is an obvious area where strong context-specific social business applications can be developed and integrated into a broad social business platform.

Check back next week for our next post:  Social Project Management – the multiplier of social business performance.

2011 – The Year Social Business Software Crosses the Chasm?

According to Gartner, 2011 social software revenue will approach USD 1 Billion. It seems likely that with companies like IBM Lotus, Trilog Group, Tibco, SocialText and others builing their social portfolios around the concept of syndicated activity streams, 2011 will become the year when social software really makes strides in enterprise adoption.

The reality is that social software is expanding beyond the social interactions of people, and is embracing the integration of the “social” activity of machines, projects, and processes.

Imagine a single activity stream that shows your human interactions, notices of new or late tasks from your projects, an alert from a file server that it is low on disk space, or that a business process is failing SLAs.  A single activity stream that shows questions that you might be able to answer asked by people you’ve never met. Add that to the ability to expand this activity stream selectively with business partners and customers, and the power of the social business software activity stream becomes apparent.

This is the promise of social business software standards like Activity Streamsthe emergence of social convergence.

Social Software and Business Performance (Part 1)

Bill Ives has an interesting post on his Portals and KM Blog talking about a new research report from Deloitte called Social Software for Business Performance. Bill’s post focuses on the section of the report that deals with establishing proper metrics for social software impact, but we want to highlight other areas of the report in our Project Wall posts.  To begin with, let’s look at the need for employees to perceive usefulness in the platform in order for true adoption of the system to take place across the workforce.

Deloitte and Ives both rightly argue that the current metrics for “adoption” of social software are not very useful because they are based solely on the number of users who interact with the system.  We think that this measure of adoption is especially flawed, given that most companies who are implementing a social software platform see expertise identification as a key low-hanging fruit for the project and mandate that users enter the system and create an expertise profile.  If we simply measure the number of users who have created a profile, are we really getting a sense of “adoption” of the platform?  Clearly not.

On page 5 of the report, Deloitte describes a case study at Alcoa:

“At first, employees only used the Traction software platform because their managers required it. However, as employees identified and shared specific ways to use the software to improve their performance and work more efficiently, they integrated it into their daily workflow.”

Employees look at tools and evaluate their usefulness based upon the ability of the tool to help them get their job done.  Until employees evaluate the social software system through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” and consequently make a positive assessment, adoption of the system is unlikely – except in the case of managerial mandate.

However, when a social platform is used to create context-specific business-driven applications, the social platform’s value becomes transparent to users. Another quote from Alcoa:

“One day it just clicked for me. I realized how using the software could really improve my productivity. From that point on, I started using it whenever possible and not just when my boss told me to do so. That’s when I started seeing [the system] help me do my job better.”

Now that’s adoption.

Businesses that have implemented social software platforms need to help users find the value in social business interactions in order to drive adoption and business value.  They can do this by providing context-specific social business applications on top of their platforms, such as social project management.

More on social project management and its ability to drive business performance in Part 2 of this post later this week.

What does social business mean?

Over on Luis Benitez’ blog, he’s got a post about what it means to be a social business, there’s a lot in that post, and most of it’s really good.  Be sure to check it out!

One thing that is really refreshing about IBM’s view on social business is that it is not especially technology focused.  In the past, Lotus, especially at Lotusphere was incredibly tool-centric.  (e.g. – Want to become an e-Business? Here’s the software for that!  Want to become a Knowledge Business? Here’s the software for that!)

However, in Luiz’ post social business is described as follows:

“Social Business:

  1. embraces networks of people – It’s not about B2B or B2C. It’s about P2P (person-to-person) to create business value.
  2. is engaged and has conversations online with its customers, employees, suppliers and embraces
  3. is transparent and is ready to be open to ideas and capitalize on those
  4. removes boundaries both inside and outside so that your people reflect your brand
  5. is nimble because they are engaged and transparent (see #2 and #3 above) and can make quicker business decisions”

What is missing from that definition?  That’s right…technology.  While it’s true that most of these things can [only?] be enabled by technology, the fact is that no technology in the world will make a business into a social business as described above.

So, social business is about doing business a new way.

Technology can help that along…but it can’t do it for you.

Picking an Entry Point into Social Business, Part 2

As discussed in Part one of this post last week, until recently the typical value proposition for social business was on the customer engagement and marketing side of the business.  This clearly has been, and will continue to be, a core area of social business strategy and value generation.

What is more exciting is the newer concept of applying social business to build trust, and effectiveness  within the organization, across traditional structural and cultural boundaries, and across task contexts.  As IBM’s second two bullet points illustrate. [IBM at Lotusphere identified three “top” entry points into social business:

  1. Customer Service/Marketing
  2. Product or Service Development/Operational Effectiveness
  3. [Operations/] Human Resources (Operations was omitted from several of the presentations)]

Traditional organizational practices create defined and hierarchical communications paths.  Social Business recognizes that while these traditional communication and collaboration channels may provide structure, and reduce information and communication overload, they are too slow, filter out important information, and do not allow the right information to get to the right person.

Because all businesses are social enterprises, impediments to communication must be removed, people must be empowered to get the information they need, when they need it, and be alerted to changes in the project environment from which they must learn. Further, relevant communications should not stop at traditional organizational boundaries.  Where appropriate,communications should be extended across intra- and inter-organizational walls, to access needed expertise, gather and share information, and to engage the wider social fabric of the organization.

New Product Development is a clear example of a corporate initiative that calls for collaborative interaction, but fundamentally NPD is a project-based effort, and therefore IBMs bullet points can be generalized to all projects, as can operations, part of the third bullet point. (I didn’t attend a session where the HR aspects were addressed clearly, but I assume that they are describing general employee engagement via internal social business)

So in the last two bullet points, IBM is clearly advocating the use of social business to drive project efficiency, innovation, and effectiveness, which we believe to be the new killer app of social business – Social Project Management.

We will shift our focus to Social Project Management specifically in our next post.