When I started researching my new book on social media in a project environment, I had a couple of project managers contact me and say that they couldn’t see it working – and didn’t believe it was working anywhere. It’s not for everyone, I agree. But I wanted to conduct my own research to see whether my anecdotal evidence about the uses of social media tools for project management was in any way representative of wider usage. Here are the results.
Over 70% of survey respondents believe that social media and enterprise collaboration tools are a key issue for project managers this year. 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.
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?
This wasn’t a particularly scientific study, but it has shown that social media use at work is more pervasive than those doubters thought. And that for the project management community, social media adoption is happening, and improving the way in which we manage projects.