Social Project Management introduces the concept of “peer-to-project” communication, which we explored in a previous post. Peer-to-project communication starts with the idea that the project is an entity that can be communicated with, and an entity that can communicate back. With Social Project Management, this is the reality.
For example, let’s look at Facebook. When a person interacts with Facebook, his or her activity stream (wall) is the communications channel. Friends’ have walls and, more importantly, things like businesses, causes, animals, etc. also have walls. These activity streams that are for “non-humans” behave (in general) the same way as people’s activity streams. Users of Facebook “subscribe” to information by liking things and “friending” people. Once that connection is made, the activity streams of people and things are linked, and can communicate bi-directionally. Importantly the distinction between people pages and “thing” pages dissolves.
Where social project management builds significantly more value than other web-based collaboration tools is with the richness of the project entity. Rather than being simply a container through which teams can collaborate, a social project management system build collaboration around the typical tools of the project manager, including a work breakdown structure and project schedule.
In a social project management setting, when a user is added to a project, they subscribe not just to the collaboration framework for the project, but also to all that the work breakdown structure and schedule provide. First, a project user receive access to post things to the wall, and they receive status updates when others post there. Importantly, the project itself can also post there.
So, second, when a person finishes a task, it is published to the project wall by the project, eliminating the need for the person to complete a separate reporting task. Third, when a task is in danger of being late, the project can communicate via the wall and make the risk known to everyone. Fourth, when a task is completed, the project can communicate to the team and let them know which other tasks can now begin.
While this scenario focuses on the communications benefits of social project management, we will discuss the power of social project management for risk management, resource management and management reporting in a future post.
In a real sense, the large portion of a person’s project communication can be re-focused to the project as peer-to-project communication, rather than as direct peer-to-peer communication. While we would never argue that limiting peer-to-peer communication is a positive thing, with distributed teams, the more that peer-to-project communication is adopted, the more ambient awareness can be generated, and the more a non-collocated project team can “feel” like a collocated team.
Peer-to-project communication via the activity stream helps team members and others understand what is going on, even if they are not directly involved with every task. Making the project itself a communicating member of the team is a great step to building awareness, especially as the size of the team grows, and the geography of the team widens.