The Read: Social Media for Project Managers

A review of the book Social Media for Project Managers by Elizabeth Harrin:

Social Media is a term used to refer to the tools and platforms that are now online to allow people to connect and collaborate.  Popular social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Pinterest.  There are a lot of options for using social media, and the popular platforms come and go, but most users of social media see it as a medium that is here to stay and is in fact, the way of the future.  Social media already has a huge impact on modern life and even though it has been slow to penetrate the corporate world it has made inroads there as well.

So how can Project Managers use social media to help with managing project teams?  Is it worth exploring?  If it is useful to Project Managers, are all aspects of social media applicable?  What might be worth implementing and how do you make this change?  These are all topics that are discussed in Elizabeth Harrin’s new book Social Media for Project Managers.There are challenges to incorporating social media into the traditional workplace and a lot depends on your team and your corporate culture, as well as your own commitment to incorporating social media into your management process.

In fact, there are enough pieces to evaluate and implement, and enough change to manage, that implementing an effective social media solution to project communication is a project in and of itself.

Once you’ve done the work, the hardest part of the process is adoption.  How do you get everyone to use it?  How do you get management to understand the importance and potential of it, not only to get it started but to also give it a chance?  It is a lot of work to end up discarded and unused.

But if you can get it working and set up in a way that works for your project team, it can be great.  Imagine one place to share and collaborate that is accessible to any team member, anywhere.  One place to update and store information.  This is really the way of the future in the workplace so learning this way of working early on, it can only help you.  Besides, managing communication by e-mail is unpleasant for everyone.  Technology has given us a better way, if we can leverage it effectively.

Here are some social media technologies that you might find helpful.  Microblogging consist of short updates and messages that are much like chat but are visible to everyone.  These are great for quick updates.  An example of a microblogging tool is Twitter.  Blogs are a great way to provide more comprehensive project updates.  Instant messaging is like e-mail but happens in real time and allows you to see who is on, as well as to chat with multiple people at once.  This is handy when not all team members are on site and something can be addressed quickly.  Wiki’s allow your team to compile the teams collected knowledge in once place.  Topic entered here can link to other related knowledge and allows users to search for the topic needed instead of opening and searching through stored documents.  There are others tool as well that are covered in the book.

I think this book has helpful information in it, especially if you have little knowledge of what options are available to you.  The book also gives you fair warning of the challenges and pit falls that you can run into, especially when dealing with managers or co-workers.  The book is small and it is not a total slog however it isn’t an exciting read either, so it took me a little longer than it normally would to get through it, because I kept getting bored and putting it down.

This is a worthwhile book if you are looking for some sound ideas on how to start incorporating social media into your projects, as the author is level headed and has some good advice.  Don’t think that this book will be all you need however.  It doesn’t really help you choose specific software.  It doesn’t have any detailed help for setting up a solution that will work for you.  This book is at a high level and is really just an introduction to the possibilities and some advice on change management.  So just keep in mind that there will be a lot you have to figure out for yourself.

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Exploring Agile – Scrum in 8 Minutes

As I explained in a previous post, I have been tasked with learning what I can about Agile project management for a small project I have coming up.  The first thing I did was ask a senior Business Systems Analyst about how her foray into the Agile process was going.  She in turn sent me the link to a couple of videos on You Tube as an introduction to the Scrum process.

The first video is only eight minutes long, thus it’s title “Introduction to Scrum in just 8 Minutes”.  The two presenters are Arif Gangji, the founder of Neon Rain Interactive and the founder of Agile for All, Bob Hartman.

The second video is an hour long and goes into considerably more depth on the topic, but I will save that for a later post.

As I started this video it was immediately apparent why the BI group had chosen it. Although it is short, it does do a reasonably good job of covering the basics of the method in a concise and clear manner.

The video sticks to the basics of the Scrum Framework.  Here are a few of the main points covered in the video:

  • The process starts with the product owner creating a prioritized, from most to least important, product backlog. A backlog is comprised of stories – who, what, why – that are the dreams and wishes of the customer in story form.
  • The team uses the product backlog to determine how much work can be done in a sprint.  The team should never commit to more work than they can deliver in a sprint with a sprint lasting between a week and a month.
  • The speed at which a team can deliver work is their velocity.
  • A team takes on the work in a sprint that delivers the most value to the customer so that the customer delivers the most value as early as possible.
  • Each day there is a daily Standup Meeting or “Scrum” Meeting that lasts for 15 minutes or less. During this meeting the following is accomplished:
    1. Talk about what has been completed.
    2. Talk about what they intend to complete
    3. Talk about any impediments that may be preventing work from getting done.
    4. The team uses this time to determine how to best share information to best help each other to meet their sprint commitment.
    5. This exposes risk and knowledge to be shared to help the team be more effective
  • Scrum requires there to be a Scrum Master who helps to ensure success by helping to remove impediments, aiding in making decisions and to support the team in any way possible. This role is vital for team to be successful.

This video was a good start for me, and I hope that you will find it helpful as well.  Do you know of any good Agile related videos or books that helped you to get up to speed on Agile?