Using Twitter for Project Management
By Toby Elwin
In this article 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:
- keeping the stakeholders informed;
- managing project scope;
- identifying risk;
- coordinating teams;
- ensuring milestone schedules;
- managing work stream progress; and
- coordinating resource needs
Imagine 90% of your role communicating? How does 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 fire off your email. 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 an online PM tool? 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”.
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.
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:
- Concise messages
- Topics filtered by keyword (more on this below)
- Link to documents or websites
- 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:
- 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;
To add private message and group management functionality choose either of these current Twitter add-ons:
- TweetKnot, or
- You can also get Twitter-like microblogging services if you, your sponsor, or your team insist on even more privacy with one of these services:
- identi.ca, or
Create a bit.ly 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 bit.ly you’ll at least see if he opened it).
Here’s a quick tip list on how you can use Twitter to manage project communication:
- 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. For example: See if your team has any new risk items by doing a #risk search.
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 telwin” then your message and I will get a private message that will not appear in the Twitter timeline.
Use your bit.ly account to shorten hyperlink addresses to files that use Google Docs, Windows Office Live, or hyperlinks that are located on your company portal.
Use the Twitter RSS feed to stream your group Twitter feed into your RSS feed into a project collaboration portal.
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.
Toby Elwin, PMP has contributed, developed, and implemented organization development, strategic planning, and marketing efforts to include Grammy-award winning, artist campaigns; the organization development of new companies into Fortune 500 industry leaders; and competitive change for market-leading organizations. His focus on collaboration and facilitation has also provided start-ups and non-profits flexibility and opportunity. Toby runs A Major Consulting, a consulting company delivering higher project success. Toby’s corporate blog can be found at: http://www.amajorc.com/blog.php and he can be contacted via his twitter account @telwin.