Project Language Translation

Now we have a conversation going…

Dennis’s response to my last post:

Lee, there is no way that you are going to convince me to manage a multimillion dollar project with hundreds of employees and multiple vendors without a formal, structured budget, a schedule, a defined set of tasks, or a defined set of responsibilities that can be communicated. I will also insist on an appropriate set of formal tools to efficiently keep track of all the “moving parts” — including the budget.

First, let me disclose, the majority of my PM experience has been with smaller projects than the ones Dennis is referring to. Therein may lie part of the difference of opinion.


As I pondered this post over lunch, I realized that Dennis and I maybe talking apples and oranges. My issue is not with the use of traditional PM tools for their intended use. No, what bothers me is when we try to use those tools “as is” to communicate to stakeholders. Think about it, if you are a Project Manager, what happened the last time you showed a 1000 line plan to your business sponsor?

The trick is for the project manager to find some mechanism to present the project content in a more consumable format, and to allow the stakeholders to effectively respond without having to learn the “syntax”. Enter Social Media.

As I look at Dennis’s “wish list”, most of the items deal with this translation from the inner jargon to an understandable conversation, and do it with a social media mentality.


2 Responses

  1. What you describe here is not specific to project management. Every profession has its own language. Take IT Architects for example. A good IT architect is the one who can communicate his knowledge in a form that his customer can understand and respond to it.
    The same holds true for project manager, health professionals, IT Developer, all sorts of scientists and engineers … you name it; it holds true for any profession.

    Thinking about the 1000 line plan this is more a question of what level of detail you need to communicate. Microsoft has realized the challenge when developing MS Project where you easily can come up with a multi-level structure of tasks and show / hide sub tasks depending on what level of detail you need.

  2. Amagard

    I fully agree, this is not something limited to PM. This is an issue with almost any professional area. The use of social media by any functional area can bring benefit. The trick is finding the best way to engage in a 2-way conversation with stakeholders. This point is exactly what I am basing my consulting practice on.


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