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Social media in a project environment – the results

Earlier this year I ran a survey looking at the uses of social media and enterprise collaboration tools in a project environment.  Thank you, if you participated.  I had responses from 32 countries and nearly 250 people, so I was very pleased with the breadth of data I was able to gather.

I did have a couple of people contact me to say that they didn’t believe social media tools had a place in project management.  The survey bears that out – to some degree.  More people aren’t using social media at work than are.  But those that are get some benefit from it.

The range of tools in use across organisations show that both large and small corporations are adopting social media and enterprise collaboration tools.  From Google Docs to Basecamp, Yammer to Ning, respondents named over 40 tools they used both personally and professionally.  The most widely used tool for business purposes was Microsoft SharePoint, with 48% of respondents saying they use that in the workplace.  It was closely followed by LinkedIn, which is not surprising given that 86% of respondents said that use social media tools to stay in touch with colleagues.  Instant messaging tools were also popular for work and personal use, with 80% reporting they used these.

53% of survey respondents carry out meetings online.  49% use social media tools for project status updates and 43% said they manage their project team with social media tools.

The survey did highlight the fact that companies are not doing enough to quantify the benefits of using social media tools in the workplace.  Although 62% of respondents believe that the use of social media and enterprise collaboration tools have given them efficiency benefits in the form of improved communication, 10% say their companies have realised no financial benefits at all.  Over a third of companies are not tracking financial benefits and a quarter of companies are not tracking efficiency benefits either.

The lack of interest in benefits implies that the 46% of companies who have formally adopted social media and enterprise collaboration tools have taken a punt on the fact that they will receive some kind of pay-off for the effort involved in implementing new technology.  Project managers agree that there are benefits to be had, with 82% feeling that social media and enterprise collaboration tools can/do improve the way they manage their projects.  It seems as if companies are unwilling or unable to work out how to measure the benefits, which is perhaps an enlightened approach – after all, who measured the benefits of text messaging or email?

If you’re interested in reading more from the survey, you can download a .pdf of the results here.

10 comments… add one

  • Francis Norman 26/04/2010, 7:53 am

    Hi,
    Really interesting post, and certainly one that fits with my own field of interest in project communications.

    You might be interested in looking at an article called “hacking work” in the January/February HBR where the authors (Bill Jensen & Josh Klein) discuss how their research has shown that a number of employees are actually going outside of their organisations tools and systems to try to find better ways of working, some of which include the use of social media. These employees are delivering above normal expectations for their employers who are, in many cases, oblivious of the extra curricular work their staff are doing and the level of productivity it is delivering.

    I have a site where I discuss the international aspects of project communications, please feel free to take a look if you are interested.

    Francis

    • Elizabeth 26/04/2010, 8:15 pm

      Hi Francis. I’ll have a look at that HBR article. It’s not the first time that I’ve heard that people are using tools outside the workplace for work purposes – employers are going to have to find a way to cope with that, especially with people joining the workforce now. I’ll have a look at your website too – thanks!

  • iolanda 3/05/2010, 1:41 pm

    Great job! I think it would be also interesting to know tools used depending on
    the company size. Maybe you would conclude if using this kind of tools
    has something to do with big companies or if it’s more related to
    small ones.

  • Mike Haden 4/05/2010, 7:10 pm

    Elizabeth, nicely done – I think the survey results would be of interest to the membership of our local PMI chapter (PMI Southern Alberta). Do I have your permission to turn this post into an article in our quarterly newsletter to be published this week? If so, can you please provide a single paragraph for the article, providing a description of yourself for article credits? E.g. “Elizabeth Harrin is …”

    Thanks, Mike

  • Jessie Warner 17/05/2010, 10:59 pm

    I really enjoyed your article and listened to several presentations about this very topic at the @task User Conference in Salt Lake City. They made an exciting announcement about a new social project management platform called @task Stream. The product “combines the power of social networking with the structure of project management. Stream empowers teams, increasing their acceptance of, and participation in, the project management process.”

    Very cool stuff. As a Facebook addict myself, I really liked the possibilities of using social networking ideas in project management. Here’s a link to the product announcement: http://www.attask.com/stream. I’m excited to see what will happen to the future of project management.

    • Elizabeth 19/05/2010, 6:24 pm

      Hello Jessie. Thanks for your comment. From your email address, it looks like you work for @task. I spoke to one of your colleagues on Monday about Stream and there will be a brief review and post about it on 7 June. Interestingly, the product manager said the social media elements were a by-product of trying to get engagement with customers, and they did not have ‘social media’ in mind when Stream was initially conceived.

  • EcoInteractive 10/12/2010, 10:22 pm

    We are interested to hear your reflections of the author on what is working and what is not in this field.

    Our organization has been very involved in Social Media and we are one of the leaders in the area of environmental social media. There are some things that are working for us and it fact a significant revenue source for our organization.

    However, I know there is so much more we could be doing. It would be so beneficial to have a concept of what is working well elsewhere.

    Thanks for taking the time to do the study and publish your results.

    However, I know there is a lot of things

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