In Part I of this series I talked about Weblogs as a source of information for Project Managers for keeping up with the state of the art of PM. Now in Part II I will talk about how I think Weblogs could be used by PMs and by project teams to improve and expand the state of the art.
I picture WebLog software hosted on a corporate intranet and used by Project Managers as a combination of status report, informal issue log and project diary from the perspective of the PM. If done correctly this would become a much more valuable project artifact than the same old weekly status reports. It would be a documentary film in words of how the project was going each day. Post categories could be used to put posts into a specific context of status, issue, work report, etc.
Team members on the project could keep a WebLog to share solutions to problems encountered in the day to day work of the project. These could then be kept as a record for future teams on similar projects. Again post categories could be used to put the posts into context.
RSS feeds for each category in these WebLogs would let PMs, stakeholders, team members on the project or even team members on other projects get updates on the newest entries for those categories. Stakeholders could subscribe to the RSS feed for the Status category on the PM's WebLog to get instant micro-status updates. Team members could subscribe to a category on other team member's blogs that hold found code snippets, solutions to problems or discussions of how problems are going.
Often in a project team there are lots of emails that go out to a distribution list that includes the whole team. In many cases these lists can become jammed with emails that really only needed to go to the Devs on the team or to the testers. Other team members might be interested but not everyone! RSS feeds would help solve this problem. You have a set of standard categories in the Team Blogs. When a project starts you could subscribe to the blogs and categories that you find interesting. Then when a post is made it can be seen by all those that are interested in that subject or in that person's comments.
An app like Movable Type can support custom fields (as I understand it) so each entry could be marked with the project it pertains to so if a team member is working on more than one project it could be tracked in their blog entries.
I think that Weblogs and RSS feeds of their content could really become a powerful tool for PMs and their teams for sharing project information. Will it work for everyone? Certainly not but it does not have to work for everyone. If only 50% of your team decided to use blogs to share information as part of their daily routine it would be a huge thing. Movable Type is $150 so there is not a COST excuse.
The call? I'd like to see a project manager take the leap and use an internally installed blogging app like Movable Type to create a set of team blogs for their next project. If you do this please let me know how it goes.
Part III will touch on "Low Impact" KM tools.