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Social Project Management

SECOND EDITION

Gilbert Silvius

University of Applied Sciences

The Netherlands


Abstract

The last 10 to 12 years has seen the spectacular rise of social media and online social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yammer, Google+ and LinkedIn. The use of these media is not only growing in terms of active users, but also in intensity of use. Given the importance of communication and collaboration in projects, it can be expected that social media also provide good opportunities for application in project teams and project management. However, the availability of documented experiences, research and ‘best practices’ of the use of social media in projects is still quite limited. This paper reflects on the content and contributions of the book “Strategic Integration of Social Media into Project Management Practice”. This book provides an overview of opportunities, barriers, technologies, limitations and experiences of social media in projects, by a diverse coverage of studies and applications from Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia.

The different contributions and cases show that Social media and Web 2.0 technologies provide great opportunities to enable teams, especially virtual teams, to collaborate and share information, thereby enhancing project collaboration and coordination. However, social media also allows project managers to take this development even further and to make project management truly social. ‘Social Project Management’, recognizing that project teams are part of a broader project community, which is both formal and informal, and that engaging with that community is the key to getting things done.

Keywords: Project management, Social media.

JEL code: M1: Business Administration

Introduction

The last 10 to 12 years has seen the spectacular rise of social media and online social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yammer, Google+ and LinkedIn. The use of these media is not only growing in terms of active users, but also in intensity of use. Especially since the introduction of smartphones and other mobile internet devices, using the social media is literally a ‘finger tap’ away. And although concerns about privacy and misuse of personal data may discourage certain users to engage in these media, the largest social media (Facebook, QQ and WhatsApp) are reporting active users’ numbers of between 700 and 1.400 million people. That is almost 1/5th of world population and roughly half of all people with an internet connection.

The role social media play in the social life of their users can hardly be overestimated. The way people express and present themselves on social media may be considered an inseparable part of their lifestyle and existence (Silvius and Kavaliauskaite, 2014). Also in the professional context, the use of social media is developing. The ease of use of social media, their rapidly developing functionality and their mobile accessibility, make them an efficient tool for team communication and collaboration. Some organizations even redesigned their corporate intranets and knowledge sharing systems as social media. In part replacing top-down structuring of information by bottom up inputs, discussion, personal profiling and ad-hoc collaboration.

Given the importance of (team) collaboration and (stakeholder) communication in projects, it can be expected that social media also provide good opportunities for application in project teams and project management (Harrin, 2010). However, the availability of documented experiences, research and ‘best practices’ of the use of social media in projects, is still quite limited.

This paper reflects on the content and contributions of the book “Strategic Integration of Social Media into Project Management Practice” (Silvius, 2016). This book provides an overview of opportunities, barriers, technologies, limitations and experiences of social media in projects in 18 chapters, that provide a diverse coverage of studies and applications from Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia.

Following this introduction, the paper is structured in three paragraphs. The next paragraph will provide an overview of the content of the book. The third paragraph, Discussion and reflection, will reflect upon this content and discuss the lessons that may be learned from the book. The final paragraph of this paper will provide some conclusions and will discuss the concept of ‘social project management’.

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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 5th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2016.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

 


 

About the author

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GILBERT SILVIUS

Utrecht, The Netherlands

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Dr. Gilbert Silvius
  (1963) is professor of project and programme management at LOI University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands and senior research associate at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He initiated and developed the first MSc in Project Management program in the Netherlands and is considered a leading expert in the field of project management. Gilbert has published over a 100 academic papers and several books. He holds a PhD degree in information sciences from Utrecht University and masters’ degrees in economics and business administration.

As a practitioner, Gilbert has over 20 years experience in organizational change and IT projects. He is principal consultant at Van Aetsveld, project and change management, and is a member of the international enable2change network of project management experts. He can be contacted at [email protected].