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10 ways to use blogs for managing projects

Blogs aren’t just for marketing - there are many areas of the business where they can help improve information flow, reduce clutter and avoid the dreaded “but I didn’t know about that” situation. Here’s ten ways that we’ve used blogs for managing projects - both internally and with our clients.

Communicating with project stakeholders

Keeping your stakeholders up-to-date with the progress of the project is vital - but if they’re busy people with other things to worry about, how do you keep them informed between major milestone reports with bombarding them with email?

One way is to post regular intra-milestone updates to a blog. It can be updated weekly, daily or even hourly without drowning your stakeholders with emails - and if they use RSS webfeeds to keep updated, they only need to scan the webfeed summaries to know if it’s something they’ll need to respond to.

Replacing paper

Anyone who’s used a methodology like PRINCE or the PMBOK will have wondered if they were designed by people with shares in paper mills. A well-documented project will fill entire shelves with dead trees over the course of it’s lifecycle. But with the right categories and a customised template or two, much of the paper can be replaced by web pages built of blog entries. They’re accessible to all who need them, there’s no problem of version control and search functions come built in.

Building issue logs

Anyone involved in a project should be able to raise an issue - whether it’s a question, request for change or an off-specification. And every issue should be captured in the project issue log. But unless you’ve got an automated system, that usually means an email to the project manager, with all the attendant problems.

By providing an open blog into which anyone can post, project issues can be raised immediately and be visible to all straightaway. By using the search functions, you can check if someone has raised the issue beforehand. Then the comment functions can be used to capture the discussions, actions and conclusions relating to each issue - and provide an automatic audit trail.

Capturing information snippets

There’s usually a huge amount of miscellaneous snippets of information generated in the course of a project - from shared passwords to useful URLs to code snippets. The more organised members of the team will have their own personal filing systems to capture the snippets that they create - but how about capturing these for the benefit of all in the team?

By posting the information onto a blog, it can be easily captured, categorised, searched and retrieved - and built into a knowledge base for subsequent projects.

Publicising the project progress

If your project is going well, then why not shout about it? By posting news, updates and status reports to a blog that can be seen organisation-wide, you can keep everyone informed as the project progresses. This can be very useful if you’re managing something with a big end-user impact - and it’s a great reason for driving the use of webfeeds in the organisation.

Reducing email overload

Email is both a blessing and a curse - great for quick communication with colleagues or clients, but sometimes it’s just too easy to bash off an email copied to all and sundry. Rather than sending emails with huge cc lists, why not post these kind of messages to a blog instead?

Not only is there a single, searchable and archived copy of the message as a result, but you can use webfeeds to quickly scan new postings and decide if they’re worth reading further or acting on in a fraction of the time that it takes to deal with a new email.

Capturing requirements

How often do the most important end-user requirements come to light after the requirements capture workshops have taken place? An open blog can be used to capture new requirements - and discussions about existing ones - before, during and after the main workshop period. Together with good use of categories and archives, blog entries can be a good way of documenting the system requirements as well - online, searchable and archived.

Circulating screenshots

Got screenshots or pack shots of new products to distribute? Rather than annoy your remote workers - or bury the image files away in shared directories - why not post them as blog entries? Many blog engines have built-in image manipulation tools that can create thumbnails and galleries on-the-fly. If a picture says a thousand words, why type?

Keeping team members up-to-date

It’s becoming increasingly common for teams to be spread across organisations or even timezones? How can you keep members up-to-date with what others are doing without contributing to email overload?

Create a private team blog and encourage your team members to post their status updates (or even project gossip) and you’re created a shared, searchable repository of news about how the project is running. Combine this with webfeeds and you’ve got a powerful way of avoiding the cluttered inboxes and keeping people up-to-date with progress as it happens.

Provide an automatic audit trail

Hopefully your project will run to time and budget - but what happens if there are problems along the way? That’s when an audit trail can become vital - particularly if you end up in an inquest scenario. One advantage of blogs is that they’re public - and another that they’re automatically timed and dated. It’s very easy for pro

And best of all…

These benefits - and more - can be had quickly and cheaply. Some of the best blogging software is open-source and free-as-in-beer, and it can be set up in minutes. If you’ve not got the capability of hosting a blog in-house, there are several cheap and secure hosted services that can be set up even quicker - meaning that the benefits of using blogs for project management can be enjoyed not just in your organisation, but with clients, supplier and partners alike.


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About us

We run a marketing & technology consulting business that helps smaller companies in the UK.

A lot of our work is now centring on using social software technology to reduce information problems in business. So this blog is designed to share our knowledge and first hand experience.

If you are interested in developing an enterprise social software strategy and setting up an easy-to-maintain weblog for your business, Infosential is the company who can help.

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