Social Project Management Reduces Communications Overhead

As we’ve all heard, based upon Fred Brooks’ monumental book The Mythical Man-Month, when you add new people to a late project, it makes the project later. The basic premise that drives this “law” is that communications overhead and ramp up time for the new person(s) will reduce the productivity of the team, and make the project even later.

However, is this true in the world of the activity stream and the Project WallTM? Rather than the typical picture of multiple communications paths between team members, with social project management, much of the project communication is between a person and the project, via the activity stream, a phenomenon we call peer-to-project communication. When project team members communicate via the project wall, two key phenomena emerge. First is visibility, as the project team is made aware of things as a group, rather than having to wait until a communication reaches them through an individual path. Further, this visibility is preserved over time, meaning that a new team member can actually “replay” the project by reviewing the project wall.

Giving new members a resource through which they can be brought up to speed without needing a person to replay the history of the project is a key feature of social project management, and it will reduce the ramp up time of new members, and the impact of the ramp up on the team. Further, because everyone on the team is “subscribed” the project wall, adding another person doesn’t add to the number of communications paths in the team in the manner in which Brooks described. Rather than a non-linear increase in communications paths as new members are added, each new member is simply a new connection to the project wall. This minimizes any new communications overhead in the team and reduces the impact of new members on team productivity.

We will have more on both of these phenomena in our upcoming blog posts.

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