Social Project Management – Balancing Coordination and Management

Every project requires some level of coordination and some level of management. Project management is generally formal, and generally understood to the someone’s job – usually a “Project Manager”. Project coordination is generally informal, and is performed by most project team members daily, in the course of performing the project tasks. Most of the time, project coordination deals with things that are not “plannable”, are too minor to be formally planned or, most importantly, with the unexpected. Until recently, project management software has generally provided tools for one or the other of these, but not both.

“Project management” software (e.g, Microsoft Project) is a (despite Microsoft’s protests to the contrary) tool for project managers, not for project teams. The typical workflow in an MS Project-enabled team is that a project plan is created (sometimes with input from the team) in MS Project, and the project manager then keeps the plan up to date in the software. Most team members never participate with the actual software. These software systems are strong on enabling “management” tasks, but weak on enabling “coordination” tasks.

“Online team collaboration” software (sometimes referred to as “Project Management 2.0” software, has become extremely popular in the past few years, with a large number of players entering that market. These tools provide powerful online collaboration tools, but often leaves the project manager out of the loop. They are strong on “coordination” capabilities, but weak on “management” capabilities.

Most projects need more of one of these (management/coordination) than the other, and so teams have chosen tools based upon which need is dominant, or have lived with using two tools that provide different capabilities. This was the origin of the vision of social project management. Social project management seeks to merge the two capabilities – management and coordination/collaboration within one platform, and allow teams to tailor their use based upon their needs.

Social project management is based upon the philosophy that, in order to be successful, most projects need the structure of a project plan and associated emergent collaboration and coordination. When teams can enjoy the benefits of BOTH the structure of a project plan (and not a simple to-do type task list) AND the rich online features available in today’s online collaboration environments, and when those two sets of capabilities are integrated together, the result is powerful.

Social project management software must deliver online collaboration for the team, and rigorous project management capabilities for the project manager. ProjExec does this for the IBM collaboration customer. Check out the demo below.

 

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