There continues to be debate around how best to implement social media and collaboration tools on projects. The Shift Index Report that I read recently from Deloitte University Press while I was writing a book chapter said social network use in a professional environment is declining. People are struggling to get the best out of online project management tools.
Here are 5 common mistakes that are made when implementing collaboration tools and what you can do to fix them.
1. Missing your audience
What if your target audience isn’t on social media? There’s no point spending a lot of time preparing a project blog or sending out Tweets if there’s nobody listening. However, just because your stakeholders don’t log into the project wiki every day doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t. You can still use social communication methods but make sure that you support your users and introduce them slowly, stressing the benefits.
Fix by: Find out what forms of communication your audience is already using and tap into those. If they aren’t using social media tools at the moment, introduce them slowly with a programme of training and education as well.
2. Implementing technology for technology’s sake
Oooh, look at the shiny new widget. We definitely need a downloadable project status reporting dashboard enhancing plugin for our intranet. I am so guilty of this.
If you are more interested in what the tool can do than how it will help you manage your project then you probably don’t need it.
Fix by: Making sure that you only implement technology solutions to problems that actually exist!
3. Assuming technology will fix poor communication
If Janet and Jared don’t speak to each other now, they certainly won’t speak to each other when you introduce a layer of social communications technology. Social media won’t solve your communication problems – if your team members don’t share information at the moment, there is something more fundamental to fix, and throwing technology at it isn’t going to be the answer.
Fix by: Creating a culture of sharing and open communication. Then add technology to the mix.
4. Taking on too much
A new project management tool with a suite of social features? Plus a wiki, blog, intranet site, and you’ve already set up an email mailing list for your online newsletter?
Think carefully about how sustainable all this is. Project management is a full-time job, and adding too many new activities into what you are already doing could create an overload that sees you doing nothing well. If you can’t commit to seeing through your project social media initiative, then don’t take it on in the first place – or at least scale it right back and introduce new features slowly as you have confidence that you can manage them properly.
Fix by: Introduce new technology in a measured, controlled way so that you avoid taking on too much.
5. Being too boring
Social media is about engagement and personality. No one wants to read status updates on your internal microblogging tool that sound like they’ve been computer-generated. Let project team members write their own updates and contributions, even if you then have to apply a light-touch editing to ensure that what they are saying is on message.
Fix by: Writing in an authentic voice, even for short status updates. Be yourself!