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Lotusphere 2012 – ProjExec is Project Management for the IBM Collaboration Community

Lotusphere 2012 is a big event for Trilog (our sponsors), and for social project management for the enterprise. ProjExec is being featured at the conference, and will be demoed in several large sessions.

Projexec 5.1 is ready for delivery, and provides a full social project management solution for IBM Lotus Quickr and IBM Connections organizations, as well as ProjExec Live – the social project management solution embedded into the IBM LotusLive cloud platform. But for those new to it, what IS ProjExec?

Projects. Made Social.

ProjExec is a powerful social project management solution that seamlessly extends your chosen IBM Lotus collaboration platform. Social project management merges the power of online and open collaboration tools with the rigorous and robust tools that project managers require. ProjExec helps projects teams and their organizations get work done by getting people engaged, accelerating information sharing and making work observable across the enterprise social network, all while managing and guiding work based upon a real project plan.

Your Team. Engaged. Everywhere.

ProjExec includes the Project Wall – a shared project activity stream that gives a voice to everyone in the project community – from team member to project manager to partner or stakeholder.  Contributions to the project community become a living project history that is visible to all.  With a design purposefully similar to the Facebook user experience, the Project Wall empowers user engagement while ensuring that security and business constraints are managed with equal importance.

Also, ProjExec brings the social project experience to wherever your team works. It enables teams to innovate and execute projects better and faster using familiar tools like email and mobile devices

  • Email integration – sidebars for Notes, iNotes and Outlook simplify task management and reporting
  • Mobile support – work on the go with Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Nokia, Android
  • Calendar integration – personal work management with project tasks fully integrated with Notes calendar.

Reporting. Socialized.

ProjExec makes even progress reporting a social experience with one click update of task progress from the Project Wall, your email, mobile device or – enterprise portal – to keep project status up to date simply and efficiently.  Just one click will update task status with automatic roll up and instant consolidation of project portfolio views.  Exception-based management and alerts help identify at a glance when anything is veering off plan so prompt corrective action can be taken.

Real Projects. Managed.

Social project management doesn’t mean sacrificing the robustness and rigor of professional project  management.  ProjExec is first and foremost an industrial strength project management solution. With ProjExec there is no rip and replace for project management professionals.

  • Compatibility with existing PM tools – complete bi-directional integration with Microsoft Project and other popular PM tools.
  • Scalable and secure – scales to accommodate large waterfall projects with thousands of tasks and users.
  • Embedded professional PM tools – visual Gantt editor, Resource management and Financial management modules ensure that ProjExec 5.0 is .complete and robust project management.
  • Cross-organization resource management locate qualified and available resources with seamless integration with Lotus Connections.

Business value. Delivered.

ProjExec lets you achieve repeatable success by supporting knowledge reuse and process improvement. Reusable project templates and the highly configurable design enable organizations to execute projects better and smarter using time-tested and rigorous project management methodologies fully integrated with a social collaboration dimension that fosters innovation, promotes participation, knowledge sharing and smarter collaboration.

In a recent study to determine Web 2.0 ROI, McKinsey found that Web 2.0 promotes significantly more flexible processes at internally networked organizations: respondents say that information is shared more readily and less hierarchically, collaboration across organizational silos is more common, and tasks are more often tackled in a project-based fashion. This highlights the strategic value of social project management as a key accelerator for social business adoption and value creation.

Platform availability

ProjExec is available for use with:

  • IBM Lotus Quickr 8.5
  • IBM Lotus Connections 3.0
  • IBM WebSphere Portal 6.1.5 and 7.0
  • Lotus Live

Social project management is the next wave in project management and delivery. If you are an IBM Collaboration customer, ProjExec is your path to Social Project Management for the enterprise.

 

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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.

 

Social Project Management – help to make sure your Enterprise Social Implementation doesn’t fail.

Leading up to Lotusphere 2012, we are posting a few “core” concepts about ProjExec and Social Project Management.

There’s a lot of talk out there about the failure of enterprise social implementations, and it’s unfortunate. Until a short time ago, it actually took a pretty visionary company to look to enterprise social solutions. However, as we’ve posted before, simply putting in a large, integrated social platform like Jive SBS or IBM Connections will not drive adoption. Rather, until there’s a reason to use it, most people will only do the minimum that they need to in the platform to keep management happy.

Laurie Buczek identifies the key reason that enterprise social has failed – it hasn’t been integrated into the workflow. We noted before that the next big thing in social will be the integration of social software into the workflow of the company. When people do their work on the an application that is part of the social platform, they will begin to integrate that platform into their work. Mindful employees will identify new and better ways to do other processes, as they experience the power of the social-enabled workflow processes that the company provides.

Project management is a perfect process to integrate into a social platform, and to drive social adoption. Project teams are often spread across multiple units of an organization, which allows for the technology to be exposed to a wide audience quickly. Because large project teams are often distributed, the benefits of a social platform are more obviously observed, and adopted by people.

ProjExec provides social project management capabilities for the IBM Collaboration product family: IBM Lotus Quickr, IBM Connections and IBM LotusLive.

Tomorrow, we will discuss how ProjExec helps project teams to get projects completed.

ProjExec. Projects. Made social.

(This post was written by John Tripp, Social Project Management evangelist at Trilog Group)

Want to try social project management? ProjExec provides the embedded, social project management capability to your IBM-based social collaboration business. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/user/triloggroup/featured.

ProjExec is available for IBM Lotus Quickr, IBM Connections, IBM Websphere Portal, and in the IBM SmartCloud. Try it for free today! 

We’re back!

Sorry for the long hiatus – but the project wall is back and blogging again.

We will be updating the blog 1-2 times per week with original content, and hopefully reposting other, interesting, information regarding social project management a few times per week as well.

Thanks for following us. We’ll be posting new updates shortly!

The importance of trust in collaboration

This post on HBR claims that the most important thing that enables collaboration is trust. Seems like a no-brainer. However, many companies when developing a plan for collaboration approach it with an high level of distrust of their employees. Many companies spend significant amounts of time trying to develop controls, moderation paths, and responses to imaginary misuses of social collaboration tools. However, what is found again and again is that, for the most part, people act professionally on professional social networks, just as much as they act unprofessionally on networks like Facebook.

Companies that establish social networking platforms need to trust their employees, both to do the right thing on the platform, and to refrain from doing the wrong thing. Giving users many reasons to use the platform in the right way is one step toward establishing the desired behavior on the platform. Rather than asking users to figure out how the technology should be used, giving them a set of structured reasons to use the technology, such as social project collaboration, social resource allocation, social issue management, etc., helps to establish the habit of using the platform for business reasons, rather than for exchanging recipes.

Companies hoping to gain significant returns for their social investment should choose a good entry point for social, such as social project management, and should rely on usage policies rather than monitoring techniques for ensuring proper use of social technologies. Just as wikipedia monitors problem posters very well, the social community of the company will monitor and report any issues within the firewall.

Trust your corporate social network, integrate it with business processes, provide them with structural guidance, and get out of the way. It will grow in ways you could never plan for.

The Changing Role of the Social Project Manager – Part 2

We began our discussion of the changing role of the project manager in part one of this post; we want to develop that more fully in this post.

Project Managers in the social business world should see themselves (and be seen by management) as key social facilitators of the company. While social connections are made within social networks organically, meaningful social connections are made in order to complete work. We have spoken at length in previous posts (here, here, and here) about the need for social networking technologies to provide reasons for people to use them through the establishment of business-context driven structures. However, even with the social business network in place, even with business-context driven structures in place, connections are made to solve real business problems, and the people often tasked with solving real, wicked business problems are project managers, leading projects.

Project Management is often seen as “anti-social” –  project managers have historically been viewed as very central members of the social network, responsible for pulling together the unique and diverse set of resources required, and responsible for controlling/managing those resources to complete the project objectives. While this doesn’t sound especially social, it is still the norm in most project-driven companies that the project manager acts in this fashion.

Emergent collaboration is often seen as “out of control” – emergent collaboration tools have historically cut out many of the necessary control mechanisms that project managers rely upon to both understand the status of their “business”, and to report on that status to others. While emergent collaboration has been extremely successful in tying together distributed project teams, it has often caused headaches for project managers who need to be able to respond with no notice to outside stakeholders. Emergent, social collaboration is often perceived as a loss of control to project managers.

Social Project Management bridges this gap – As we discussed in part one of this post,the social project manager can no longer operate as a hierarchical commander. At the same time, she still needs control. Somehow, the social project manager needs to leverage the social network and the emergent collaboration made possible by it, while maintaining the control still necessary to ensure that the project is progressing toward its goals.

Social Project Management software provides the structure of rigorous project management at the fingertips of the project manager, while still allowing project team members to collaborate socially. Rather than managing “projects”, social project manager allows for the management of business “opportunities”. What we mean by that is that most project management software processes “start” after the project has been identified, and a team has been formed.

With social project management, as an opportunity or threat emerges from the business environment, collaboration can immediately begin to address the issue, and this collaboration can include the definition of the project goals, the formation of the team as the problem is defined, and the tasks necessary to complete the project goals.

The social project manager in this illustration can work through the social networking software to identify and attract resources by including them in the up front definition of the project and therefore achieving higher buy-in from these resources. Additionally, as key resources are identified in the formation of the team, they can mine their social network for additional resources as new needs emerge. Rather than being “order takers” for a completed project plan, these resources become stakeholders in the project that they have helped define.

In the meantime, the social project manager is able to utilize the project management functionality of the platform to manage the project with whatever level of rigor is required.

This short and simple example shows just one way in which the social project manager helps to facilitate social connections within the enterprise in order to address an emergent critical business problem.

While social networking has other, secondary benefits, such as allowing people to share information about personal events and affinity topics, business value is generated by social networking software when real business problems are solved in an efficient and effective manner, and social project management does just that.

And now a word from our sponsors:

Check out ProjExec 5.0 – social project management for the enterprise.

The Changing Role of the Social Project Manager – Part 1

The project management 2.0 movement sought to eliminate the role of the project manager completely, replacing centralized management of projects with a sort of egalitarian utopian vision for co-management. What project management 2.0 could not do, project managers themselves will do if they ignore the social wave in project management. The business process landscape is changing, and project managers need to adapt to remain relevant.

Project managers usually have influence that is out of scale to their productivity. Before you jump down my throat, I do not mean that project managers don’t work hard, or aren’t important. What I do mean is that project managers influence has historically not been based upon what they themselves produce, but is based upon the key role that they played in the social network of an organization. This role most often worked out as intermediary between two groups that had very little overlap – namely the executive or management team, and the project team. We must never forget that the project manager’s role has always been social, even before social technology, but with the rise of social technology, the focus on the social component of the project manager’s role is shifting even more to the forefront.

A recent article posted at TechRepublic highlights this shift (they summarize this Harvard Business Review article). They highlight four skills that are defined as critical for collaborative managers:

  1. Become a global connector
  2. Engage peripheral talent
  3. Collaborate at the top
  4. Show a strong hand

While these are skills that are necessary for any collaborative leader, when operating in a social software enabled environment, these skills become at the same time easier to exercise, and more critical.  So, how does social business software help?

First and foremost, social business software platforms like IBM Connections or Jive SBS provide the foundation for social networking inside the firewall, and across partnership chains. Without the presence of social networking software, little actually changes. In order to connect and engage, one must rely on the available social network. When that social network is not online, it is the person’s personal social network. However, when the company’s social network is digitized, it becomes a resource to mine for opportunities to connect and engage.

However, while this visible, digital, social network is an enormous resource for the project manager, it is also a game changer. In a social collaboration environment, access to the team can no longer be managed by the PM. Some PMs may sense this is as a loss of power and control, and in environments where power and control are valued, it probably is.

Project managers who rely on position-driven power and control of communication will fail in a collaborative social-networked organization. As fallen dictators around the world have learned, a networked group of people cannot be controlled. However, they can be led.

Leaders connect and engage the right people to get the job done, and allow them to work (within some defined boundaries) to accomplish the goal. The project management role will change from one of commander of the team to one of enabler of the team. By connecting the team to the right parts of the social network, the social project manager enables the team, reduces their own role as knowledge and communication conduit, while increasing their visibility as connector and leader. Project managers like that generate good will from their team members, and develop rich networks of willing resources for the next project they lead.

Nothing could be further from the truth than to say that the role of the project manager is over. Teams, especially collaborative teams, still need a directly responsible individual – and that person is the project manager.

We’ll continue this discussion in part two, and discuss how social project management software helps the project manager to balance the structure of the project management process, with the emergence of the social collaborative paradigm…next week!