twitter, project management, tips, Toby Elwin, blog

4 tips to use Twitter for project management

Toby Elwin Blog, Portfolio Planning, Social Project Management 11 Comments

Twitter, project management. communication, Toby Elwin, tips

Twitter: light on space, heavy on impact

In my last post I presented a case to manage your projects as a business portfolio. The ability to deliver projects on time, on budget, and within scope directly impacts your organization’s ability to compete and stay alive and project failure is an organization-wide risk.

In this post I want to introduce Twitter to manage projects. Why Twitter? Twitter is a great communication and community collaboration tool and once a project starts, 90% of a project manager’s job is communication. Project communication and coordination is vital to project success and important:

  • Keep stakeholders informed;
  • Manage project scope;
  • Identify risk;
  • Coordinate teams;
  • Ensure milestone schedules;
  • Manage work stream progress; and
  • Coordinate resource needs

Imagine 90% of your role communicating? How’s your day look now? Any room in your calendar to increase your communicating even more? I can’t imagine the amount of email that hits your inbox that requires you to read, decide “what’s this got to do with me”, create acceptable options, and then craft and fire off an adequate email.

More Communication Please

Think your project sponsors and stakeholders are looking for even more communication in their lives? I’m sure your sponsor or boss does not appreciate an email you forward without an explanation or concrete options you suggest to try. Lack of value added communication creates little confidence in your boss that you have things under control and, that you respect their time or that you are even worth the gobs of money you are paid to make decisions.

Think you’ll get a lot enthusiasm calling more meetings? Having more conference calls? more emails? or setting your project and users up with shared sites like Basecamp or SharePoint? Well, good luck to you.

We need to communicate to manage expectation and results. There is nothing more damaging to your reputation then a project delivered to a sponsor who says, “You should have added this” or “this is really not what I expect” [find more on this with my scope management eBook].

What’s a project manager to do? As a project manager your job is on the line, your organization’s resources are on the line, and your competition is only too happy when you can’t deliver on time, on budget, or with the features promised.

Here’s your answer, use Twitter and micro blogging to manage project communication and collaboration. What I love about Twitter and, microblogging is easily summed up: you have 140 characters to get your point across. With Twitter being succinct is a requirement and it is sure easier to read through a Tweet timeline than deciphering emails.

Communicate in 140 Characters

You have an obligation to communicate, but with Twitter you now have an opportunity to communicate more efficiently, more effectively. 4 reasons to use Twitter for project management:

  1. Concise messages
  2. Topics filtered by keyword (more on this below)
  3. Link to documents or websites
  4. Track communications by user and using a time stamp

There are a couple of services to set up a private group for sensitive information and to provide Twitter access that you, as the project manager, can administrate. Here are 3 steps to start managing projects with Twitter (hyperlinks provide more information on each):

  1. Create a Twitter account for your private group and have your team create Twitter accounts or assign Twitter accounts with privacy features for your project team;
  2. To add private message and group management functionality choose either of these current Twitter add ons:
  3. Create a j.mp link shortening account to shorten file names and hyperlinks as well as track when your files are clicked on and how many people clicked on your file (ever wonder if your customer really said he did not get your attachment? If you use j.mp you’ll at least see if he opened it).

What To Say The Twitter Way

Here’s a quick tip list on how your can use Twitter to manage project communication (hyperlinks provide more information on each):

  1. Use hashtags on your Tweets to code the Tweets within any number of areas for sorting and redirecting, try these hashtags examples: #risk, #change, #schedule, #scope, #resource, #budget, #stakeholderscrewup
    For example: See if your team has any new risk items by doing a #risk search
  2. Send a direct, and private, message to people using the “d username”. As an added bonus a direct message will also send an email to that person
    For example: to send a direct message to my Twitter account type “d tobyelwin” then your message and I will get a private message that will not appear in the Twitter timeline
  3. Use your j.mp account to shorten hyperlink addresses to files that use Google Docs, Windows Office Live, or Zoho or hyperlinks that are located on your company portal
  4. Use the Twitter RSS feed to stream your group Twitter feed into your RSS feed into a project collaboration portal like 37signals’ Basecamp

I also wanted to recommend a couple of sources on the archive and search capability you can use with Twitter for your Tweets, project-related or otherwise:

  1. 3 ways to Archive Your Tweets offers a way to backup your Tweets and 2 other tips;
  2. Collecting, Sorting, and Archiving Your Tweets includes a great tip to download and archive to an Excel Spreadsheet; and
  3. 10 Ways to Archive Your Tweets includes a tip to integrate your Tweet history with your Google calendar in their list of alternatives

How do you manage project communication?  Do you have any tips or other social media tools you use to manage project communication in the age of saturation? I welcome your thoughts.

Contact me if you would like to discover how to turn project management into your organization’s competitive advantage.

Other sources:

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