Implementing Social Project Management: Approach and Lessons Learnt by Francesco Bellifemine, Pietro Casanova

Implementing Social Project Management: Approach and Lessons Learnt by Francesco Bellifemine, Pietro Casanova

Speaker: Francesco BellifeminePietro Casanova


Exprivia and independant consultant - Italy

Tuesday, 8 May - 9.00–11.15 - 1 hour, 15 minutes

Summary: A practical implementation of social project management in a large ICT services company. The approach, its implementation steps and lessons learnt are presented. Learning objectives

laforest-valerie.jpgReport by: 

Valérie Laforest, PMP

France Sud Chapter


Implementing Social Project Management: Approach and Lessons Learnt by Francesco Bellifemine, Pietro Casanova


1- The global village in a connected world

Thanks to modern tools, communication has become cheaper, easier, mobile and probably more effective. This progress has made multi location projects possible and more cost effective. Social relations have been stimulated by this situation and entreprises strategies now include that component.

A Social enterprise is an organization that uses social approaches broadly for both their client-facing social conversation and providing robust social collaboration functionalities to their internal users for business purposes.

The use of social media as promotion tool or to achieve any business goals is referred to as social business.

According to a survey conducted in 2011 by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), 21% of companies don’t use social business, 24% have ad hoc usage, 38% are moving to an enterprise wide strategy and 18% have an active and coordinated use of social busisness.

The first reason for use of social enterprise and social business is to share knowledge and expertise, the second to facilitate communication with distant teams and different business units.

However, lack of leadership, poor change management and a tendency to share non-business content might delay the implementation of social tools in companies.

A McKinsey GI study from 2011, showed that the industries that use the most social media are High tech and telecom, followed by legal and professional services.


2- From traditional to social project management

Projects are becoming more and more complex and expectancies in term of efficiency have gone higher and higher in the last decade. Nowadays, in any kind of industry, only a small number of projects hits the target according to plan. As demonstrated by “The underlying theory of project management is obsolete” (Koskela 2002), control methods, availability of resources and planning flexibility conditions have changed.

The speakers propose that “projects are considered as temporary social systems where a temporary knowledge organization comes together to work toward a common goal”.

In such case, the success of a project depends on the alchemy that makes people work together in an efficient and collaborative way. Project teams are complex adaptative systems which are reacting and adapting to constraints and conditions, rather than being planned or controlled. The system is able to organise itself, to adapt to its changing environment and to improve continuously. From the outside, it could be perceived as chaos but at the edge of chaos where optimal conditions of variety and creativity may be found, new possibilities may arise. Project management 2.0 uses collaborative social tools from web 2.0 and gives the PM role to the team. Social PM recognizes the role of PM to be more a coach and an organizer, rather than a planner who uses directive communication.

The role of leadership in social PM has become essential. The PM has to seek relations with experts to create networks as it is much faster and much more efficient than using dedicated tools. The social intelligence and leadership model  show how team behavior , from team work to empathy, applies in case of social PM.


3- The CNOS platform

The speakers showed that Basili’s Quality Improvement Paradigm and experience factory is based on knowledge and learning both at corporate and project level. The Shewart & Deming cycle Plan Do Check Act sequence could include the learning aspect.

In practice, the project organization and the experience factory interact in harmony to develop the product, perform analysis, learn and implement changes.

The CNOS web 2.0 portal integrates tools such as wiki, chat, forum, blog, FAQ, news and surveys. It interacts with the workflow management system, the PMS, the Document MS and the knowledge MS. The information may be stored in a structured way and is searchable, but this requires a lot of efforts.


4- Towards a true social PM platform and lessons learnt from CNOS

  • The development of knowledge packages which can be reused is a very demanding effort. Knowledge should be available without requiring the KM role.
  • The Product Breakdown Structure approach is very effective.
  • The CNOS based architecture is appropriate.
  • Workflow as frequently perceived as a burden and making them socially oriented could improve the perception from users.
  • Leadership aspect is key to succeed in such a model: Empower people, relations based on trust, social network becomes central.
  • The planning no more needs to be done in depth, but until a certain level to let the people in charge figure out the details by themselves and leave room for creativity and more efficiency.
  • The PM should be trained to develop their social skills.


Further investigations: Crowdsourcing

This is the capability of a social network to accomplish a goal by autonomous interactions. In a project, such technique may be used for beta-testing, designing or product building.

This was a very rich analysis of the shift communication and social media have been operating on PM techniques and the feedback from the CNOS experience was very convincing. An excellent presentation!