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Importance of Social Media in Project Management

09 Oct 2017
Importance of Social Media in Project Management

On the face of it, one might expect that project management – with its defined constraints of time, costs and effort - would be among the leaders in adopting a platform (such as social media) that supports faster and timely communication.

Yet we do not hear a lot about the practices and effectiveness of Social Media in project management. Possibly it has not taken off as one might have expected.

This raises many questions, such as:

  • Is Social Media in some way unsuitable for use in project management?
  • Is it perhaps regarded as an informal mode of communication, limiting its practical use in project management?
  • Is it regarded as an ‘outsider’ technology, not in tune with the requirements of formal project management? 

Potential benefits of Social Media in Project Management

Social Media can play a significant role in the planning, execution, and delivery of projects.

Role of Social Media in Communication

Communication is critical to the success of project delivery. It is widely cited that a project manager spends up to 90% of his/her project time, communicating.

Social media apps can facilitate video, audio and text-based secure messaging. They can be purposefully used by project staff to share information on project activities. It can be used to share pertinent information in a timely and succinct manner (e.g. through hashtag updates or project graffiti).

Groups can be moderated by one project staff member who monitors all the messages and information that is shared. It is just to help ensure that communication remains within official confines and secure, project social media

Project social media groups can also be linked to project management software to maintain transparency and accuracy of information. Such integration should ensure that nothing falls between the cracks.

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Project Management Updates

Social media with its wide-scale reach & agility of information sharing can play a defining role in the management of updates. Particularly for large projects, updating the right people, at the right time and in the right format is not an easy task. Social media can empower project teams to do their update management in an effective manner.

These updates can be about project progress, exceptions, meeting schedules etc. It can be about team-building activities, decision-making meetings, innovation meetings and more.

Project staff designated with the task of sending updates can work with the project social media group moderator. It is to ensure the right people receive updates; rather than sending the updates to inappropriate people in error.

Lessons Learned Management

Lessons learned information that can be captured as part of project work often gets buried in unstructured text folders. Which offers little interest from anyone to access these bundles of useful information.

Social media empowers project organisations to progressively collect these lessons learned information through the active involvement of all project team members. It can be used to send out lessons learned to the relevant stakeholders in a timely manner.

People are becoming addicted to using their social media-loaded portable devices. The information from lessons learned will be made more accessible and utilised by individuals for their upcoming projects. It could help in reducing risks and enhancing the quality of project work.

Importance of Social Media in Issues Management

Issue management often involves a number of people and quick-fire actions. Hence quickly involving the right people in a timely manner becomes critical to minimise the negative effects of emerging issues within the project.

Social media is a perfect tool to help in the dissemination of information to a contained group of project staff that needs to be involved in a particular issue(s) management. This information dissemination could be for various purposes depending on the level of involvement, such as:

  • Just to keep informed and involved as a matter of seniority and managerial position
  • People who need to be involved in troubleshooting the issue;
  • Experts whose advice needs to be sought on how to manage the emerging issue(s);
  • For capturing the lessons learned as a consequence of emerging issues;
  • For updating the project plans and risk management.

Knowledge Management

Effective knowledge management involves sharing, processing and giving meaning to knowledge in the context of the project, all of which can help in enhancing the knowledge bandwidth of project teams.

The fact that social media apps are actively present and used, provides a perfect avenue to enhance the knowledge management activities of project teams.

Comparatively, Social media will allow the involvement of everyone in knowledge creation, processing and capture, thus enhancing the use of knowledge for project work.

The project social media groups mentioned earlier can also help in knowledge management. As before, a dedicated staff member could be appointed to ensure that knowledge management is done in a somewhat focused manner. This is especially relevant on large projects where pieces of knowledge falling through the cracks is always a risk.

Conclusion: Use of Social Media in Project Management

The above list is full of potential benefits & the areas in which social media can be used in Project Management. In short, It is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg that social media could offer to project management.

In conclusion, social media technologies have become mature enough to be used in a secure and contained manner. The use of social media in project management is increasing undoubtedly. Surely the time is ripe to evolve them from everyday usage by the general public into mainstream professional usage.

This article is an edited version of the paper written by Jiwat-ram who currently serves on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project Management. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of a Working Paper Series and directs the publication of a monthly newsletter, ‘Project Management Voice.’