Winston Lawrence

Project Manager & Occasional developer

Why you should NOT use twitter for project management.

I have been running across quite a few articles lately on why project managers should use twitter as a management tool. The rationale usually goes something like this:

  • Communication - keeping stakeholders informed.
  • Coordinating teams
  • Coordinating resources
  • Managing the work stream progress.

Essentially the (correct) takeaway is that a large part of the day to day project managers job is to communicate and that the best way to do that (incorrect) is through Twitter. I also have an underlying suspicion that these Project managers are not tasked with or worrying about little things like confidentiality and risk management (as it relates to information security not the project risks)?

In general, the project Manager will create a project plan - identifying the milestones and tasks and the communications artifacts for the team and stakeholders. Part of the effort that the Project manager puts into establishing the communications vehicle is to ensure that the communications have been received, understood and when required, acknowledged. Sending out Tweet's ensures none of these things.

If the company or project does not have a formal content management system or other repository requirements in place I find a simple wiki like Dokuwiki works very well for two way communication and to store project artifacts.

Twitter can be useful for non-critical communications, for note-gathering, for obtaining consensus at large meetings and conference calls but I don't buy it as a general Project management tool.

Twitter is also not entirely new, remember AOL instant Messaging (AIM)? There was a time when every email messaging system and web portal on the planet was falling over themselves to ensure that the subscriber status was noted (Green- I'm online or at my desk; Red - Not online don't 'IM' me) and potentially available for instant communication.

Most people quickly realized that they liked the store and forward delay of email just fine and did not want to be interrupted at any given time of the day by colleagues needing an immediate response to a instant message where that expectation would not have existed if an email was sent or a voice-mail was left. Twitter does not change this and I suspect that a large number of the folks that wax ecstatic over Twitter today never had business AIM (or the IBM and Microsoft equivalents) inflicted on them in a business environment. As a project manager I would be more concerned when my development team were constantly updating their Twitter 'status' instead of the 'code' repository.

Winston Lawrence

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