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Collaboration tools offer many benefits, but the most important is improved communication with stakeholders. Your communications strategy can be used to identify and map stakeholders.
Your chosen tools allow the project team to engage stakeholders in a way that suits them, and many people have changed the way they work today to use online tools.
Your project communications can be made easier by using web-enabled technology. Social communications are a great way to communicate with (and not collaborate!) with stakeholders, such as members of the public in a public sector project or third sector project.
You can limit the readership to employees of your company, or share brief status updates with the world via your favorite social networking site. Your project communications reach far beyond email distribution lists or printed newsletters.
Social communication systems are convenient, especially for working with virtual teams. Many tools can be accessed from multiple devices, such as tablets or smart phones.
These products allow you to communicate with your team from anywhere. This can improve collaboration as it is easy to stay in contact. People are more likely to adopt these working practices when they are simple.
The most important thing for a connected project manager is to make sure that there are benefits to using this method of working. If you are unable to identify benefits for your project and your team, don’t use social communication technology.
One example would be a small Agile group that is based in the same place and working together on a software release. A collaboration tool will not bring any additional benefits to the team beyond the face-to-face collaboration that they enjoy every day.
A wiki would be an excellent addition to the team’s toolbox if they needed to have a repository of knowledge. These social collaboration tools may not be appropriate for all teams or all projects. Make sure to weigh the benefits before you make the decision to adopt them.
A policy for their use is essential if you decide to adopt them.
Social communications policies
Once you have decided to embark on a social media or communication/collaboration system initiative, it is essential to set some guidelines for your team.
It is possible that your company has already established policies regarding the use of social media tools. These policies can be modified to allow for the use of the solutions in projects.
If there are no guidelines, your PMO can help you create them. Or, you can simply write a short document that you and your team can agree on. You can search the internet for examples and guidelines on social media: Many companies are happy to share their policies online.
A social communication policy can be replaced by a corporate policy that incorporates the guidelines. Many companies have a set of policies for human resource management that address appropriate behavior. You could request that these policies be updated to include online behavior.
Social communication policies should include:
Online behavior standards such as the official position regarding appropriate language and links to codes of conduct.
Privacy/Data security/Confidentiality guidelines to protect project and personal information.
Guidelines for the use of generic or individual logins
Guidelines for mentioning employees or company business that is not part of the project.
Information about how to use the company logo or project logo.
Clarity around the fact the individual represents both company and project when working on internal projects