Project Management needs social signals

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Summary : It’s obvious that in many cases traditional project management methods need to become more agile. That’s not without bringing new issues due to the need to keep eveyrone informed of the status of a project that is continuously being re-designed. Social media are very good at addressing the need of narating a project beyond the traditional quantitative indicators of traditional tools. But there’s still something missing in the enterprise social media offer : even if some niche players offer project socialization features, most of generalist social software vendors don’t while it would make a lot of sense next to the conversational spaces that are the heart of their product.

In more and more fields it’s becoming obvious that agile methods are becoming the most relevant to manage any project and this approach, that used to be restricted to IT projects is nom being used in more and more areas. The reason is quite easy to undersrtand : in a world where cycles are becoming shorter and shorter, plans that aims at delivering something in 2 or 4 years are not relevant. Proceeding step by step, having functional deliverables that comes progressively and continuously redesigning the project in order it meets actual current needs instead of delivering something that meets what was needed years ago but is irrelevant to the current context seems to be wiser and more efficient way of managing a project.

When, during a projet, some specific expertises and resources have to intervene on certain specific parts, it brings an added complexity. In a classical project, anyone knows what to do and when because the project follows a well defined path. In an agile project, where the roadmap and the specifications continuously evolves, resources are often lost because they don’t know how things have evolved from the original project. It’s a matter of awareness.

There’s a simple way to handle this kind of situation : ensure information transfer and an heavily brief anyone who has to intervene, when he has to. Good but unperfect because it means a lot of information to assimile and there still be a lack of understanding of the context that is necessary to understand why some decisions were made, why the customer prefered such or such option and what to know to manage the customer relationship. Adjustments within the team are often laborious and never comfortable for those who discover the situation at the last minute.

In such contexts there are practices that help fludifying the way the project team works, to share contextual elements in order anyone knows what happened before. Since the usual Gantt and the dashboard full of red and green lights only give a partial view of the situation it’s important to have a narrative view of the project’s history, something that helps understanding what’s going on and why. That’s the only way any participant will not act blind. That’s not a surprise that the first example project wikis and blogs took place within IT teams that were often forerunners in project management.

On the other hand, if this kind of tool is perfect to give any project the needed transparency, there’s a lack in the enterprise social software offer. There are lots of things around blogs, wikis, social networks and microblogging but only a few niche players address social project software management issues, adapting, for instance, microblogging to this kind of issue (Teambox for instance. I still can’t understand why a lot of generalist vendors (legacy as well as pure players) overlook this kind of features that would add to their conversational and community offer with relevance and would make a lot of sense for many users and organizations that balk at adopting new practices and social software.

gestion de projet, gestion de projet 2.0, medias sociaux, projets, microblogging,business awareness,awareness