How are we going to communicate project information to a far flung group of stakeholders? There is a synergy between advancing communications technology & a growing number of tech savvy information consumers. The last time something like this happened was when Guttenberg invented the printing press & mass produced media became available at the same time that a growing number of literate people were in existence. The result was the Enlightenment. The spread of ideas generated more ideas. Something similar is taking place now. And we can use it in applications development to ensure that our stakeholders are well informed & up to date. We can also use it to obtain the necessary feedback without the necessity of onsite consultations & demonstrations. I must be pretty hard headed, because it’s taken me a long time to come to this realization.
What happened is that the author of one of the blogs I follow (Project Shrink) attended the PMI EMEA Global Congress in Amsterdam & posted an interview with Dave Prior, the author of the Drunken PM blog and the ITT SIG Podcast. I thought this was an important interview in that it was on the growing cross acceptance between the Agile Development Community & the Project Management Community. As an advocate of both, this was very close to my heart, & I thought some of my colleagues would be interested, so I e-mailed the info to several of my PMI acquaintances. It happened that one of them, Ricardo Triana, was in Amsterdam & attended the first day. He had just given an interview to Jorge Dominguez of Experiance about the South Florida Chapter of PMI (of which Ricardo is the current president & of which I am happy to be a member). Jorge’s blogs are widely published & cited. The South Florida Chapter currently has over 1500 members, a growth rate of 6%, compared to an average 3-4% for chapters of similar size & has 60% of its membership as certified PMPs, compared to 50% for similar chapters. It also has over 40% of its members in LinkedIn & 700 members registered on its website. The Chapter is actively promoting & creating a virtual arena for the transmission of ideas & opportunities among local PM’s. So it has a large & growing virtual footprint. This has resulted in increased numbers of volunteers & 270 users of its successful Job Opportunity Program.
Another recipient of my e-mail was to Teresa Colon a past president of the South Florida Chapter & current chairperson of the PMI Information Systems Special Interest Group (ISSIG). Here’s where the synergy starts to kick in. PMI had mandated a Virtual Communities Project, VCP. (Google that & be prepared to spend a couple of days reading). Not surprisingly, the ISSIG is actively working on the VCP. Teresa had 2 ISSIG members, Thangavel and Sanjay, at the EMEA congress specifically to talk about VCP & LIGs. Teresa had asked Yong Li, the ISSIG Technical Lead, to get familiar with LinkedIn & work on the ISSIG’s own reconstituted virtual community there, PMI-ISSIG. The previous ISSIG group on LinkedIn, which had over 9k members, is now being replaced by the new one. She included Shea Heaver & myself in her e-mail to Yong Li & volunteered us to help. (Thanks a lot Teresa). Shea is Vice President of Technology for the South Florida PMI Chapter.
If this is getting confusing, to you, welcome to the club. The point is that a virtual community can be set up to serve any common interest, whether it is global, local, project or internally based. I personally know only Teresa & Ricardo from all of these virtual interconnections, but a ton on information has just passed between us & several virtual teams have just been set up.
I’m going to tell a little story about communications by a not especially technical user (myself). I had to take my car to the dealer for some work & while there I noticed that there was a wireless network, but that it did not allow customers to access the web. I spoke to the Service manager about that & the next time I needed to bring my car in, the network was now open to the customers. Not one to waste an opportunity to get some work done, I connected & was going through my e-mails when I got a Skype call from my son Erich in Iraq. I quickly plugged in my mike & we had a nice live conversation, he from his laptop at his FOB in Iraq via Skype to Skype to my laptop in the service lounge at the car dealer. I got an idea & called my 87 year old mother on my cell phone & by putting the receiver of the phone next to the microphone; my mother got a chance to talk to Erich also. She hadn’t talked to him for a year. All in all a successful adventure in technology that wouldn’t have been possible even 5 years ago. Now the pace of technological change is accelerating even more, & bringing with it new possibilities & challenges.
As a final thought, I just want all of us to remember that, as wonderful as all of this is, the technology is just a tool; it’s still people who get the work done.