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Can we use Facebook to manage projects?

“What about Facebook for project managers?” is a question I’m asked a lot when I talk to people about social media tools for project managers.

As you know, I’m a big believer in the benefits that social media tools can offer project managers.  But when I’m asked about Facebook I always say that I don’t think it is a good tool for project managers trying to run projects.

I have always been sceptical about the role that Facebook can play in running projects.  I don’t talk about it in my book, Social Media for Project Managers.  It’s just not business-y enough.

But it isn’t good enough to have an opinion – I wanted to test out whether or not I was actually right.  So I got on Facebook to check.

The project management community on Facebook

A search for ‘project management’ brought up the PMI page which appears to be the most popular, with over 41,900 people ‘liking’ it.  I also found The International Community for Project Managers and Projects@Work.  These sites, and others like them, had no original content – they simply aggregated content from their ‘normal’ websites and posted it to Facebook.

Facebook does give users the opportunity to comment on articles without going to the organisation’s website, and some of the comments were interesting, although I saw nothing that would make me rate Facebook above an organisation’s own website. I couldn’t find a presence for APM or IPMA.

There are also groups on Facebook, but I found the search results confusing. The results were not alphabetical and I wanted to display the largest groups first so I could see which one would be the best to join.  Once I looked into the groups I found the discussions were not recent.

Is it worth it?

If you want to take part in discussions about project management, the discussion groups on LinkedIn are more up-to-date and more active.

The benefit of Facebook is in consolidating your social media experience as a user, and bringing together all your favourite project management reference sources in one place.  It would save you time, and it means you don’t have to remember to check every site, as you can see all the updates in one place.

However, this is only useful for networking and reading up on the latest news.  It is of no help with actually doing the business of running a project.  I still don’t think that Facebook is a tool that project managers can use to manage a project and work collaboratively with a team.  Do you think differently?

Want to learn about tools that really will make a difference to how you use social media for project management?  Buy a copy of Get Started Using Social Media on Your Projects, a 16-page, 6-step guide to help you get your social media initiative off the ground at work.

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.

Comments

  1. This notion that social media tools are the “management” of projects is troubling.

    When you “manage projects” with social media as a headline, what actually do you mean by the verb “manage.” Cost management, schedule management, technical performance measures, programmatic and technical risk measures?

    I have no issue with social media as a communication channel for the project team. We use IM (secure tool) nearly 100% of the time for short messages, we live on Skype – both video and conference calls, we live on BOX.NET. We don’t tweet that much because it’s not secure. We have extensive SharePoint Team Sites.

    But NONE of these are the processes of “managing” the project. They are enablers of the management process. Along with the other tools – MSFT Project, the EV Engine, the Monte Carlo risk tools, the cost management tools, subcontract management tools.

    I see how Facebook can be a place where project members meet to exchange ideas. But if you look at the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups of PMBOK (just for a start, you pick you own poison – space PRINCE2) what exactly would be the contributing benefits to each of the processes in those models?

    • Glen, by “manage” I mean to organise, facilitate outcomes and be in charge of. Franklin and Tuttle describe management as “achieving things through the motivation and coordination of groups of people who are tied together by a common aim.” Communication is a large part of motivating, coordinating and organising people.

      To give you some examples of how I think social media tools can help with the specifics of project management, PRINCE2 suggests the use of a Daily Log in the Progress theme: this could easily be a blog. The Starting up a Project process has a step, “Capture Previous Lessons”. This could be done by interrogating the team wiki. A project blog will never replace a tool like Microsoft Project for scheduling, but you do need to gather input from the rest of the team to complete product-based planning (including defining and scheduling tasks), and social media tools can help with that.

    • Glen, by “manage” I mean to organise, facilitate outcomes and be in charge of. Franklin and Tuttle describe management as “achieving things through the motivation and coordination of groups of people who are tied together by a common aim.” Communication is a large part of motivating, coordinating and organising people.

      To give you some examples of how I think social media tools can help with the specifics of project management, PRINCE2 suggests the use of a Daily Log in the Progress theme: this could easily be a blog. The Starting up a Project process has a step, “Capture Previous Lessons”. This could be done by interrogating the team wiki. A project blog will never replace a tool like Microsoft Project for scheduling, but you do need to gather input from the rest of the team to complete product-based planning (including defining and scheduling tasks), and social media tools can help with that.

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