October 2, 2014

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Social Media and Project Management in South Africa

This week it was my privilege to be interviewed by Jerry Ihejirika, a project management blogger from Nigeria in his new series called “Project Management for Africa”.

According to Jerry I’m one of the most active African Project Managers on Twitter (@virtualpm) and for that reason as well as my passion for project management, he chose me to interview, using Twitter. I thought it was an innovative medium to use to conduct the interview and a good example of the power of social media to promote our profession.

Below is an extract of the interview that I wanted to share with my community too.

When exactly did you venture into project management and what informed your decision?

I’ve been in the project management profession since 1999. I’m an accidental Project Manager, and I love working with teams and the satisfaction of achieving goals.

As someone who is passionate about project management, what’s the best project management advice you’ve ever received?

From both advice and my experiences: “Always be planning, always be communicating, and always build relationships.”

What’s the level of awareness of project management in South Africa?

In South Africa, there is a growing level of awareness and appreciation of project management as a professional designation. We have a Body called SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) which has officially recognised project management as a professional designation with career path. It’s also required by corporate employers for a Project Manager to have a PMP (certified) status, especially when applying for senior roles.

Is there any recognized national PM body in South Africa to help promote and advance Project Management in the country?

Yes, Project Management South Africa, or PMSA, representing project management practitioners across all sectors. They have monthly meetings in major cities, a biennial national conference, national printed magazine; we also have PMI chapters whose members meet monthly.

You’re one of the advocates of social media in project management. Do you think social media has a role to play in project management?

Yes, and for different reasons. Some of the benefits of social media in project management include improved collaboration, cost savings, best practice sharing, and networking.

How do you think social media can be utilized to promote and advance project management in Africa?

Through our project management blogs; sharing of project success stories; creating LinkedIn interest groups; leveraging Twitter, podcasts, videos, Google+, and PM Flashblog initiatives.

How would you rate the level of awareness of project management in Africa?

Project management as a designation will contribute to the development of career paths; and also through promoting continuous professional development. In South Africa, we have a national conference by end September with theme: Growing project management in Africa. (See events page for more details.)

Wow, that’s good, and there’s also a national conference in Nigeria by September tagged “Project Management Development in Nigeria” being organized by ProMaCon.

That’s good for raising the awareness of value of project management in Africa.

What advice would you give to a Project Manager who’s planning on incorporating social media in his/her project management profession?

For use of social media on projects, you need a social strategy that’s specific to your organisation’s business objectives, challenges, and culture. You also need to have an adaptable, step-by-step, ongoing formula to bring social media into projects. You can also use social media to build your professional project management career by having a strategy with tactics to communicate on each social media channel.

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Project Manager – How to Integrate Social Media with your Projects

When considering social media for use as a communication tool on projects, there are many things to think about:

  • the purpose of using social media to manage projects
  • the benefits of adopting social media on projects
  • best practices when integrating social media with projects
  • privacy and security concerns
  • which social media channels to select
  • challenges in the workplace

Project Management SocialThis can be quite over-whelming. The purpose of this article, is to answer some questions about social media for project managers and to direct you to good resources for more information, education and implementation.

A fellow project management blogger, Tony Adams, summarised it very well when he said:

“social media is about investing the time and energy into developing long-lasting, personal relationships with your network.”

This applies whether we want to position ourselves as Thought Leaders or to connect with our project teams and stakeholders.

Let’s look at the questions that people need answers to before they will consider social media for projects.

How do you manage the information overload?

Too many communication tools can result in more interruptions and therefore more distractions, so you need to think about how to manage the various streams of information that social media tools open up to you in order to avoid information overload. It is a matter of trusting your team members and not having to monitor all conversations that are going on.

When it comes to instant messaging, you can store the output from chats. Your IM tool may have settings that sends the chat to you as an email after the session ends, so check if this is turned on and use it if it is available. These can then become project documents and can be stored and archived in the same way as meeting minutes.

Then there’s the matter of email (present on all projects) and then adding more social media channels on top of that. Consider using social media channels as pull communication where teams need to visit the project site in order to find and share project information that would benefit all. And publish the messages that are discussed on the social site, because people often need to hear/see the same thing several times before they believe it; so using several channels to repeat the same (consistent) message is appropriate. Don’t create confusion by saying different things on different channels.

What about the security implication concerns that many companies have?

Most people have smartphones with internet access and they can access social media whether the company allows it or not. It is better for a company to monitor and control access through policies and education by training them about the purpose of using selected social media channels.

Manage security by using tools that you can host in-house behind your firewall so they are not available to external audiences e.g. Yammer, Wikis. Also use tools that enable you to export your data when you need to or when the project is over.

However, if you cannot address security concerns adequately, don’t use social media tools if it doesn’t make sense or puts you in breach of agreements or policies.

How will you activate project managers to integrate social media onto their projects?

First project managers need to educate themselves. Find Project Management Social, a SlideDoc, that will help you with this.

PM Social

Social Media for Project Managers

Next, based on a better understanding of what platforms are available and how to use them for projects, you can determine and select the most appropriate tools to bring social software onto your projects. Visit Social Media for Project Managers for more information.

Then make social media part of your communications plan and use it consistently with your team members to achieve the expected results.

For training, guides, a checklist, strategy and action plan templates, visit PM Social.

How Social Media is bringing Project Managers together

Today I want to share an excellent example of how project management professionals are brough together by the power of social media. This is called a project management ‘flashblog‘ where more than 70 project management bloggers will be writing their thoughts on the title ‘What does project management mean to me – a Project Manager’s sermon’. All blogs will be published simultaneously on 25th September at 1am GMT.

Kudos to Shim Marom coordinating a first ever project management related global blogging initiative to publish a post on a common theme at exactly the same time. Globally bloggers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA have committed to make a blogging contribution and the fruit of their labor is now available all over the web. All participating PMs are really excited by this and I’m also looking forward to sharing and viewing all the unique perspectives on project management from around the globe.

Much chatter is happening around the effort under the hashtag #pmFlashblog on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn.

The complete list of all participating blogs is found below so please go and check them out!

Also find the list of Twitter names from participating PMs! Now is your chance to follow and connect with your fellow PM practitioners all over the world.

 

 

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management – Part II: Webinars, Slideshare, Podcasts

For most Project Management professionals social media is already part of their lives. This article will look at Webinars, Slideshare and others and how it is adopted in project management.

Part I of this article, can be found here:

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management.

Part II: Facebook and Yammer

Part II: Blogs and Twitter

Part II: LinkedIn and Google+

WebinarWebinars

A webinar is essentially a seminar hosted on the web. It is also used to describe other types of meetings where the participants go to a website to see the presentation material.  Participants use their web browser to access a website for that meeting.This is very useful to present a topic to virtual teams attending from different parts of the country or even the world.

Many webinars are hosted weekly covering useful project management topics and contributions from people in the profession. An example is Roeder Consulting for free monthly webinars:

Podcasts

Podcasts are audio files that can be delivered on-demand and regularly through a mechanism that allows people to subscribe to the latest episodes, like RSS. Numerous project management topics are discussed on podcasts that you can download and for existing PMP’s this can count towards PDU’s.

slideshareSlideShare.net

SlideShare is a social network site that contains PowerPoint presentations and other documents that users create and upload. Searching on “project management” will find thousands of presentations about project management.

 

WIKI

The Wiki is likely the oldest platform and it’s a space in which users can add, modify and delete pages and content using a simple mark-up language. One of the more compelling features of a wiki is that its structure and content is created and maintained by the users themselves as it is grows and is being used. Wikis are flexible and can serve as the backbone for a small team’s shared notebook.

YouTubeYouTube

For the project manager, YouTube offers hundreds of videos on project management methodology. More people prefer video to text with certain types of information. Let your audience know your videos are intended to give them better and more compelling information. If you have distributed teams, set each group up with the means to create video updates. Not only will your status reports be more engaging, but putting faces to names creates a closer, more respectful team.

Refer to the article about 10 social media tools available to project managers for more details about the above mentioned platforms.

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Practical use for Social Media in Project Management – Part II:LinkedIn, Google+

By Linky van der Merwe

For most Project Management professionals social media is already part of their lives. This article will look at LinkedIn and Google+ and how it is adopted in project management.

Part I of this article, can be found here:

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management.

Part II: Facebook and Yammer

Part II: Blogs and Twitter

LinkedIn

LinkedIn for project managers

As a social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn will help you find experts in project management. There are many project management related interest groups on LinkedIn which you may join. Add yourself to groups and communities that share common interests with you or your business.  Then follow and contribute to the discussions.    This way you can connect with as many project professionals as you like including experts who can answer questions and provide advice.

When I perform a search for project management groups, there are almost 7000 results, which can be narrowed down by adding more filters. Groups with the most members are displayed at the top and the number of active discussions are also shown.

With LinkedIn you can build your brand and profile to share with others, search for work, get valuable information about searching for work, and expand your network.  If you are not actively participating here as a project manager, I encourage you to read “Benefits of using LinkedIn”.

Google+

Google+ for project managersMost people have a Google profile and it’s very easy to join Google+. There are multiple interest groups to join discussions, watch webinars or even join Google hang-outs.

Google Hang-outs

With Google hang-out you connect with your colleagues, communities and customers via a video chat.  Google Hang Outs  is a great way you can have face to face conversations both privately and publicly. Collaborate in real-time, share ideas and even do interviews.  You can also record the conversation so it can be viewed at a later time

There are many project managers, Pages relating to project management, as well as PM communities. Use Google + to share posts, interesting links, photos, videos or perhaps events for project managers.

SEO value and Google Authorship

If you or your company has an online presence, there is also value in having a Google+ account for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. If you are a content creator, like I am, you can claim Google Authorship. It is really simple:

  1. Create a Google+ Profile and upload a high quality headshot and fill out the profile information.
  2. Go to plus.google.com/authorship, sign up with your email and click on the verification link that Google will send you.

The biggest advantage of doing this is if people search for a particular content, your Google Plus profile will be displayed including your photos and a brief description of who you are. If they like your content, there is a high probability people will add you to their circles to allow them to receive updates from you or your business.

Let us know in the Comments if you’re using LinkedIn or Google+ for your projects and how well that is working for you.

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Practical use for Social Media in Project Management – Part II: Blogging and Twitter

By Linky van der Merwe

For most Project Management professionals social media is already part of their lives.  This article will take a closer look at social media platforms, Blogs and Twitter and how they are adopted in project management.

Part I of this article, can be found here:

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management.

Practical use for Social Media in Project Management-Part II: Facebook Yammer

use of blogging in project managementBlogging

Blogs are made up of posts, which are short articles that appear in reverse chronological order on the blog. Blogs have an archive facility which will display historical posts by day, week, or month. In the project setting, it is the equivalent to a project notebook.

There are a number of ways blogs can be used to enhance the success of a project.

  • Project documentation – you can put all the project documentation on a blog.
  • Major milestone announcements - blogs are a great way to keep your team informed of the major phases that are coming up, as well as to recognize the good work your team has accomplished as milestones are passed.
  • Interesting pictures – keep blogs interesting by posting pictures of a product in various stages, or of people who are making a product that aren’t usually in the company newsletter.
  • Use of features – use comments fields, as well as tags and ratings features of blogs.

Decide early whether you want to use external blogging sites or internal blogs. Many products are available internally. SharePoint Workspace 2010 contains a blogging feature that your organization can use to create a blog that is private to your team.

Twitter for project managersMicro-blogging

Twitter is the most popular micro-blogging tool today. It allows you to send short messages to the internet, but limits the update to 140 characters and also permits your “tweets” to be protected. As with a blog, the tweets appear on your homepage in a long chronological stream, with the most recent comments at the top.

 

There are several ways to use Twitter to help you manage a project.

  • Project management articles – use search to find good articles about specific project management topics and best practices.
  • #Hashtags are used to help index the subject matter of your tweet. For example, the hashtag #pmot is used for tweets about “project management on Twitter”. When you click on the hashtag, you will immediately see a page full of the recent tweets that have used the same tag. This is a simple way that users can quickly filter for only tweets about specific subjects. You can also search for tweets by typing the hashtag in the Twitter search box. Other useful hashtags for project managers are: #projectmanager, #pmp, #project, #msproject, #project2010, and #pm. Also check #PMChat for Tweetups every Friday for an innovative way for project managers to get answers to project management questions and obtain different perspectives. Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-consultant/project-managers-get-social-with-pmchat/
  • Team hastags – a project team can decide on its own hashtags for the projects they’re working on. If your team is working on a business application project, you could decide on a hashtag to use across Twitter, such as #busapp. This will work for projects where security is less of a concern.

Twitter Lists

On the Home page of Twitter, your Twitter timeline can get cluttered very quickly. Twitter lists become useful as it allow you to group Twitter users. You can make a list of other users who are also in project management.  Every time you follow a person on Twitter who is also a project manager, you add them to your list. By following this process you will soon connect with project managers from all over the world who you can follow and collaborate with. Or create a list for your team relating to the project you are working on. Send them the URL of the list so they can see who you’ve added.

Consider  subscribing to other people’s lists. My Projectmanagement list contains 316 members and a number of subscribers. Now I can look at Tweets from project managers on my list and the lists that I’m subscribed to and see all the latest updates at a glance. I can retweet, share them with my followers or reply and collaborate.

Let us know in the Comments if you’re using Blogs or Twitter for your projects and how well that is working for you.

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Practical use for Social Media in Project Management – Part II: Facebook, Yammer

By Linky van der Merwe

For most Project Management professionals social media is already part of their lives whether they use it intentionally or not.  Let’s take a closer look at social media platforms already widely adopted in project management.

Part I of this article, can be found here: Practical use for Social Media in Project Management.

facebook-sm-projectmanagerFacebook

These days many project managers or project management companies have Facebook pages. On Facebook you can learn from experts about project management. You can create professional contacts to get questions answered or to jump to a suggested site.

When you perform a search for Pages on “Project Management”, you will find more than a 1000 Pages. A search for project managers, also give results for more than 1000 people, which can be refined to your own country or city to find people you may know.

Visit some Pages, find out what is being shared, Like Pages, join Groups and become part of the communities where you can contribute or where valuable information is shared.

yammer-sm-projectmanager

Yammer

Yammer is like Facebook’s equivalent, but in the corporate world, focused on the company. With Yammer, you can share announcements, create a team calendar of milestones, create pages for different interests, and upload documents.

Also consider posting your team norms, latest screenshots of the app for team members to comment on, and sharing video updates or team photos.

Yammer allows for more in-depth updates and comments can also be grouped into a “thread” beneath each post, allowing for a more conversational tone – See more at: http://www.geneca.com/social-media-meets-project-management/

Let us know in the Comments if you’re using Facebook or Yammer for your projects and how that is working for you.

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Practical use for Social Media in Project Management

By Linky van der Merwe

The purpose of this article series is to educate project management practitioners about the use of social media in the project management profession.

Part I will cover the benefits from using social media, as well as recommended best practices.

Part II will cover the platforms to consider and the value of each social media tool for the project manager.

socialmedia-bandwagonSocial Media Adoption

Social media is a reality, and its growth is destined to continue. The integration and adoption of social media into our personal and business lives is increasing.  There is no indication that it is going to stop anytime soon. If you are not currently involved with social media, either personally or professionally, and you have no plans to do so, you may find that you quickly get left behind.

Why Social Media

Managing relationships to build trust is especially important for projects managers, because it is becoming increasingly common for project team members to be distributed geographically while working on projects.

This increase in virtual teams makes the communication process more challenging; therefore more difficult to establish strong relationships and bonds that lead to high levels of trust.

Communications delivered through social media are potentially a valuable resource for developing trust between project team members.

Source: Herbert Remidez: Journal about the explosion of social media – the emerging practice of companies using social media to support project management.

http://www.ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_3_February_2012/3.pdf

Benefits of Social Media

Social networks, both within and outside of companies, increase the value of collaboration by reducing the search and coordination costs of connecting parties who have related knowledge and interests. By developing and managing relevant formal social networks, organizations can facilitate communications that improve decision making and operations.

In a field like project management that depends on lessons learned and best practices to deliver repeatable results, the pool of resources you can tap into via social media is very powerful.

Best practices for Social Media

The best use of social media is to focus on building relationships. Make sure your team is in agreement with which social networking tools are to be used. You might want to document how the team should use the tools, when to use the tools, and what type of content should be contained, and not contained, in posts. There is a much stronger chance of the tools being used when everyone understand some fundamentals about them.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-za/project-help/use-twitter-facebook-and-other-social-media-to-help-manage-projects-and-teams-HA101929375.aspx

Privacy and security are valid concerns and must be taken into account when adopting social media into the workplace. You need processes and guidelines in place to ensure that social media is used responsibly and that care is taken when sharing information inside and outside of your team.

Social media is not a technology; it is culture, a culture created, supported and enabled by various technologies and applications that are constantly growing and changing. The true innovation is the cultural change that social media has bought about. People think, act, and communicate in a completely different way.

For example on Twitter, being able to discuss challenges with other project managers and hear from PMs in different sectors, provides an on-going roundtable that fosters continuous improvement.

http://workingwithoutwalls.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-use-of-social-media-in-project_19.html

Social media is an extraordinary opportunity to improve team collaboration at all levels. Social media is the way of the future. It will keep maturing, growing, and changing, but it is here to stay. Get on-board or be left behind!