Written by Jeannette Collazo – Forbes Business Council
Communication is the engine of project management. It is a force that drives the entire process forward and never stops moving. As the world evolves, so does the way we communicate with our teams, customers and subcontractors. Even the tools and methods that facilitate those activities are constantly changing and reinventing themselves.
Today, we are facing challenges such as geographic dispersion of project teams and stakeholders, so it is vital for project managers to stay up to date and learn the best resources available to maintain fluid communication among all project team members.
In that sense, I consider social media to be the project manager’s best ally because it offers many tools to improve projects’ efficiency so that they can be completed on time and on budget. But what do I actually mean when I say “social media?”
You will probably think I am referring to popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but that is not entirely accurate. According to Merriam-Webster, by definition, social media stands for all “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).” From my perspective, this also includes communication platforms that can be leveraged when managing a project.
Here are five areas in which I recommend using a communication platform for project management:
1. Communication: As mentioned before, it is key for a project manager to develop outstanding communication skills because that will mostly determine the success or failure of a project. In order to facilitate that success, social media software offers different platforms that enable directors to be in control and rapidly share important information, such as deadlines, essential files, decision-making meetings, progress reports and so on.
This information keeps teams updated and enthusiastic about their achievements. It also helps to improve and speed up communication among team members so they can instantly contact one another when necessary. Another major benefit is that social media allows project managers to immediately address any contingency that they may encounter during the process, as well as to have a quick response with their customers, which are a fundamental part of the project.
2. Collaboration: Nowadays, project teams are distributed in different locations all over the globe. Although it is time- and cost-effective, this fact adds complexity to the process because it makes it more challenging to achieve effective collaboration among all parties involved. Fortunately, there are some social media tools that have helped to overcome those difficulties by allowing team members to connect in real time through, for example, virtual meetings, video platforms and instant messaging. Some options include Zoom, Google Meetings, Skype, YouTube, Vimeo, WeChat, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts, to name a few.
Virtuality has taken such a place in people’s lives that being connected 24/7 to interact with others has become natural. That benefits project management because it can contribute to remote team building and enhance the team’s cohesion, which I’ve found can help improve engagement and team members’ commitment to the project. However, it is important to establish some healthy boundaries and program schedules to be more organized and to diminish stress.
3. Know-how management: Social media gives project team members the ability to easily share their knowledge, experiences and opinions about the project. Knowledge management activities are very important and enriching to the field because they require the active participation of all people involved in the project. This means that more information will be available for a better understanding and management of the project’s different stages. As a result, when someone needs to clarify a doubt, they will have access to all of those stored lessons, which can help reduce risks and ultimately enhance the quality of the project.
4. Building networks: Social media not only allows project team members to interact with one another, but it also helps professionals to reach wider audiences and become visible in the corporate world by building networks with peers from all around the world. LinkedIn is one of the most popular platforms to do that; there, people who belong to different working fields share advice, thoughts, information, know-how, achievements and so on. It is a good way of connecting with other colleagues and an especially useful tool to promote your business as well.
5. Online presence: In this area, the main goal is to create a long-term presence on search engines and on the web in general by designing and building a compelling website or a blog. Social media will be the place for you to launch different marketing campaigns and promote your project or product. This can help you potentially reach more customers, as well as call the attention of some executives and people who are looking for an opportunity to invest.
I believe social media is here to stay, and as project managers, it is important that we use it effectively throughout the life cycle of a project. Not all social media can be effectively used for project management. For example, lessons learned can be shared in a social media platform that allows for us to be part of a discussion or forum group (i.e., LinkedIn groups). By doing this, as a project manager, you are collaborating with other project managers as well as increasing your network.
Also, when sharing files, takes place through the entire cycle of a project, a collaboration social tool such as Google Docs will likely be a much better fit than something like WhatsApp because it will allow for you to keep your files organized, as well as keep the team better informed on the status of the project.
As you can see, social media has a lot to offer for those who navigate the agitated waters of project management. Remember that is vital to be updated with the latest tools that technology brings us. Give them a chance. You won’t regret it.
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.