Blogs have been around for a long time now! In the age of social media and web 2.0 they have not become obsolete. In fact, they are complementary to other social media tools. Blogs allow you to post news, updates and ideas with team members, as well as other information, links and attachments related to your projects. They not only provide information about projects but also generate and encourage discussion, therefore improving collaboration between project team members. Launching a blog for your project is a good way to document the progress of your project, especially if your team is dispersed.
Project managers often document projects with excel sheets, reports, power point presentation which provides a dispersed view but a project blog can help you to document day to day activities and immortalize the challenges and success of a project on a consistent and daily basis. Thus, providing a continuous analysis of what actually happened.
A team member with a journalistic flair or someone who has a knack for writing can do the job. The idea is not to write something sophisticated or an editorial column but to just produce an update of what actually happened in simple terms. It is a good way to inform senior management or distant stakeholders who are often busy or based in another corner of the world. In other words, it is an excellent reporting tool! In project management, a blog can be a complementary tool to other project collaboration tools.
So, what are the different ways a project team can use a blog? Project blogs can be used in many ways. For example:
Provide Information and important insights about your projects
You and your team can produce blog posts announcing project news or updates to which your team members can respond in comments. If you use other communication tools such as websites or newsletters to provide official and serous updates, you can use a blog to provide behind the scenes information, updates or project progress in a laid-back manner.
Project blogs can be useful to provide a bird-eye view about the project progress to project sponsors and senior management. The type of blog posts on the blog and the tone of various comments will reflect the motivation of the team. If the team is eager to publish posts regularly and comment them with enthusiasm, then you can assume your project will be successful. If not, then you might want to course correct or infuse enthusiasm in your project teams.
Encourage collaboration by using it as a project discussion forum
Project blogs can be used as a discussion forum around the project. For example, a collaborative blog can be set up where team members can write about their progress on tasks, their accomplishments and their challenges. This can encourage debates and discussion contributing to the collaborative efforts of the team. In other words, a collaborative blog can act a catalyst for project collaboration.
Monitor project progress
You can track the progress of your project through dedicated project blogs. Post daily activity reports that your team will be able to subscribe to and read. If your messages are well written, team members will be able to track the progress of certain project elements that are relevant to them.
In addition, maintaining regular reports allows you to keep track of each step of the project. If something goes wrong, it is easy to refer to the blog post progress report and identify where the issue started. This also allows you to keep an eye on patterns that may repeat, you might be able to spot a problem before it occurs.
Storing and managing project knowledge
A blog is very useful for institutional memory or project memory. Any information relevant to the project can be stored and maintained as a blog. The blog posts can be archived and filtered using tags which makes it easy to sort and search for the right information when you or your team needs it.
In case you have problems with your current project you can refer to the previous or past project blogs to learn from it in order to solve the current project challenge. A blog of past projects is an excellent display of your company’s project success.
Manage and forestall scope creep
A project blog can help you against scope creep. If someone requires changes over the life of the project or if a senior manager, project sponsor or client makes a new request that was not decided in the beginning, then ask them to submit a blog post explaining their reasons. This has two advantages: first the new request is detailed, on record and centralized on a common tool visible to all. Second, team members and other stakeholders can respond to it via comments. This can lead to a healthy debate on why or why not to approve the new changes. Thus, contributing to efficient and transparent decision making.
You can use a project blog in all the above ways or one of the above way!