How social media changes project management

Andrew Filev, who blogs at Project Management 2.0, and I are exchanging posts today. We came up with the loose topic of project management and social media. Andrew is a wealth of knowledge in enterprise 2.0 and social media. I’m happy to have him as a guest writer today. You can find my thoughts on the topic on his blog.
During their presentation at PMI Global Congress, Cornelius Fichtner, Josh Nankivel, and Bas de Baar raised an interesting question. The question was “Why should you care?” Social media in project managing is a hot topic. I decided to expand on the question and tell you about two project managers.
The Story
SuperSonicTeams, Inc., a U.S.-based company, was extremely lucky last year. It acquired two very large projects at once. Both projects were from overs clients (the first was from London, and the second was from Barcelona). This required the involvement of SuperSonicTeams’ three offices located in San Francisco and Orlando, as well as the Dallas office. Both projects were started simultaneously. The first was led by Jake, and the second by Simon. Simon and Jake are both experienced project managers who know how to do their jobs well.
Jake’s Project
Jake is always busy. He wakes up in the morning to check his e-mail and look for updates on projects. He then spends hours calling and e-mailing his team members to gather all the information they need and ensure everything is on track. As a manager, Jake must then merge these updates into his project plan. The updates must be communicated to the top management later. Jake must prepare reports and give them to the executives of the company to keep them informed about the progress of the project. Jake must also follow up on any feedback from the London client or partner. How? You can do it via e-mail, phone calls, and meetings. He wishes he could visit his client more often from London, but he knows how important personal relationships are in project management.
He is constantly tasked with solving problems through a series of e-mails and phone calls. Jake is also responsible for managing matters such as confusion between different versions of the same Word and Excel documents or helping his team find the documents that are relevant to their project.
Jake’s team members are also very busy. They receive between 50 and 100 e-mails each day that they need to review. They don’t have direct access to the project plans, so they must e-mail Jake to report on progress. They may miss important items occasionally, but it is not a major problem as Jake always reminds them to check their email (unless he is too busy or forgets).
Although it sounds difficult, Jake is a great manager who loves his job. He keeps everything on track, even though he has very little time to think about his project management strategy and his team’s motivation. He also often has to work overtime. It’s not easy, but Jake seems to be able to complete the project on time and successfully, despite all the challenges. He will likely feel exhausted and stressed due to the crazy schedule.
Simon’s Project
Simon views the project routine in a different way. He opens his email inbox every morning. However, the number of messages is only 10-15. This means that he can quickly check all the messages and send his replies. He believes that e mail is a great tool as long as it doesn’t become too overwhelming with messages. Simon’s team doesn’t have to exchange dozens upon e-mails. They use a Web-based system for project management. This allows everyone to check the progress of the project online, including customers from Barcelona and corporate executives. Simon’s team members can also update their tasks online so that the project plan is always up to date.