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The 5 Questions You Should Ask Any Social Project Management Vendor – Part 1
By John Tripp

Social Project Management is increasingly being recognized as a dominant future trend in the evolution of Project Management, and “social project management” software vendors are multiplying rapidly. But are they all selling Social Project Management? There is already a distinction emerging between “Social Project Management” and “Social Task Management”, but even these categories, along with many vendors’ pitches, are doing little but muddying the waters. We think that there are five questions that you should ask any social project management vendor to identify what their offering really is.

First and foremost, ask your vendors “How does your tool allow me to leverage the expertise of my entire organization?” As we’ve noted here, here, and here, social project management isn’t really about collaboration per se (although that is a key part of it). Collaboration tools have been available for decades. Slapping the label “Social” on a product, or adding an activity stream to a product doesn’t make it a “social” business application at all.

Social business applications, and social project management specifically, need to be integrated into the enterprise social network of the organization. Project Management 2.0 vendors complained that most project tools were only for the project manager. But vendors such as AtTask and Vantage simply widen the scope to include the defined (and licensed) project team members. This is why these and other project team-centric applications are not enterprise class solutions.

For a project management tool to be a social project management tool, it must allow the team to identify the expertise of the organization intentionally, and unintentionally. By this, we mean that the tool must be able to poll the organization for the expertise that the team understands that it needs, and the tool must help the team solve problems for which it doesn’t know what expertise is needed to solve it.

To do this, a social project management tool needs information that has been stored about the experiences and expertise of everyone in the organization. This is not possible in a point solution, but is definitely possible when the application is integrated into the social enterprise application (e.g. IBM Connections, Jive SBS). This is an example of how social business applications both leverage and multiply the value of a social platform investment.

Additionally, a social project management tool needs to enable the team to ask for help – even when the project team isn’t sure who to ask. As such, a social application must be able to crowdsource problems to the entire organization. Again, this is possible only when the tool is integrated into, and accessible by, the entire organization’s social structure.

Therefore, integration into an enterprise-wide social platform is necessary, but not sufficient, for any application to be called a social business application. In the next four posts, we will discuss the key features that a project management system requires in order to be called a “social” project management system.

Original series can be found here.

John Tripp is Chief IT Evangelist at Trilog Group, one of the foremost providers of Social Project Management software.

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