Experts say that up to 90% of a project manager’s time is spent on communication either with stakeholders, project team, suppliers or upper management within the organization. That volume speaks about the importance of communication to any project. Experienced project managers can relate to this, when communications is done properly, the project is more likely to achieve its objectives.
Easy formula! Not really. Managing communication is one of the most challenging tasks for a project manager. Daily, you might receive and send hundreds or thousands of emails and IM messages. Some issues start on email but get concluded on IM or vice versa. Keeping track of communication, and most importantly the sequence and relation between messages is really a hectic process.
A proper tool should be available to help. Ironically, available project management applications overlook this fact. However, they significantly concentrate on scheduling and reporting, which make them not of great help in this matter. Relying on web 2.0 applications to enhance collaboration and communication was introduced as what is called Project Management 2.0. However, the down side is that you still have to rely on too many applications e.g. twitter, email, IM…..etc. There is no real integration between different applications especially email and IM.
So what exactly we are looking for as project managers? What are the characteristics of the tool that will help manage communications at ease? I think we want the option to communicate in real-time, but also the ability to communicate at our leisure at times. We want a “passive-aggressive” method of communication. Passive communication is when you are just listening, not waiting for nor expecting a prompt response i.e. email, while aggressive communication is about getting a response promptly i.e. IM. We want both approaches in a unified tool.
Wave! Yes Google Wave is the answer. Google Wave is both a platform and a new communication standard. A wave is:
- Equal parts; conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more. A wave can be embedded in a web page as well
- Shared; any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback; anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when. You can send to everyone in the wave or select a subset of users.
- Live; with live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.
From project management perspective, you can keep track of all communication and documents related to the project. You can track and follow up on issues till conclusion, you can coordinate with your team members and you can communicate with stakeholders using the same wave, awesome!
It is worth mentioning that Google Wave is still not finalized yet, it has been recently released to a limited group of developers for feedback and bugs reporting. However initial indications promise great potential and a mindset shift in our understanding of communication.
So will Project Management 3.0 be based on Google Wave? Most probably.
Update 1: May 22, 2010: Along with Google announcement to make Wave public, a new project/work management extension is annouced; Unawave.
Unawave builds task management and project management into Google Wave, providing a level of functionality to manage work and project teams. It has crowdsourcing elements that allows people to add videos or images, for instance, to give projects and tasks more context. A real-time dashboards gives insights into how work is progressing.