Project Management

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Topics: Organizational Culture, Organizational Project Management, Strategy
Project Management in the era of Slack
In our company, the team and leader hash out a lot of details for large, complex projects in Slack. It's helpful in the time of Covid. The downside for me is that all communication about a particular project is open all the time. All details, developments, and though processes are written there in a conversational way. I need to sift through it all to make a functional project with action items, timelines, dependencies, etc. Does anyone have any advice for Project Management in the era of Slack?
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Drea -

I'd suggest putting some structure around the Slack conversations. For example, you can set up a few channels related to specific deliverables or project management areas of interest such as scope or schedule.

You might also see if the team is open to tagging you on any threads that are likely to be important for you to be aware of.

The important thing is to be able to get the info you need without stifling the conversations within the team or making them feel micro-managed.

Appropriate, consistent usage of tools falls within the domain of working agreements which the team should develop for themselves (with your input).

Kiron
It's not that much different than if you are trying to facilitate a discussion among many parties in a conference room, or you're in an environment where emails are flying around all day on many topics. While you don't want to stifle the conversation, sometimes you need to take a step back and summarize what was discussed because there is a lot of information being exchanged.

As the PM, you can't necessarily follow all the threads yourself. I received over 1000 emails last week, most of which don't particularly involve me. I meet with a few key teammates 3 days a weeks so we can all share where we are at, and set up other quick conversations with others as needed on evolving issues. Since you can't constantly read every thread, you need to identify who is on top of the discussion so they can give you the bullet point version.

Others will have the same problem, so by gathering the key information and figuring out who the key stakeholders involved, you can help tie the many separate conversations together, at least at a high level.
There has to be a balance in the amount of 'conversation'. Stifling the conversation is not good but neither is excessive conversation.

In an office environment there are a lot of conversations that are necessary but are not recorded and distributed, typically involving two or three people.

In today's culture of less personal contact, communication is mostly emails. Emails that are copied to everyone.

Emails consume a lot of time - the author, the addressee, all those that are cc'd. Responses are then required, questions asked, clarifications requested and provided, curiosity expressed, need to show interest encouraged, opportunity for micro-management presented. Keith, you wrote you received over 1000 emails, you probably read most if not all, determined if you needed to get involved or respond, ultimately passed on most, but all that took time. Was it time well invested?

It is my opinion that we need to manage communications not just let it happen. Software, like Slack, can be overwhelming - everybody does not need to know about all communications all the time, or even have access on the off-chance that they will have something significant to add. Don't let your communications be an erupting volcano with uncontrollable debris flying in every direction.
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1 reply by Keith Novak
Dec 08, 2021 2:29 PM
Keith Novak
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No, most of the email traffic is a gigantic waste of my time. With so many, I end up creating rules to organize them for later reading rather than try and follow every thread all day, and scanning subject lines to see if anything jumps out at me as urgent. It results in less timely responses and lost actions buried inside a lot of spam.

I know some people disagree with my approach, but I often see them as constantly distracted and overworked while lacking the focus to put out quality work. They tend to provide the appearance of being on top of everything by spending all day in meetings and dropping everything every time an email pops up. When everything is the top priority however, then nothing is and performance drops off.
Dec 08, 2021 10:59 AM
Replying to Peter Rapin
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There has to be a balance in the amount of 'conversation'. Stifling the conversation is not good but neither is excessive conversation.

In an office environment there are a lot of conversations that are necessary but are not recorded and distributed, typically involving two or three people.

In today's culture of less personal contact, communication is mostly emails. Emails that are copied to everyone.

Emails consume a lot of time - the author, the addressee, all those that are cc'd. Responses are then required, questions asked, clarifications requested and provided, curiosity expressed, need to show interest encouraged, opportunity for micro-management presented. Keith, you wrote you received over 1000 emails, you probably read most if not all, determined if you needed to get involved or respond, ultimately passed on most, but all that took time. Was it time well invested?

It is my opinion that we need to manage communications not just let it happen. Software, like Slack, can be overwhelming - everybody does not need to know about all communications all the time, or even have access on the off-chance that they will have something significant to add. Don't let your communications be an erupting volcano with uncontrollable debris flying in every direction.
No, most of the email traffic is a gigantic waste of my time. With so many, I end up creating rules to organize them for later reading rather than try and follow every thread all day, and scanning subject lines to see if anything jumps out at me as urgent. It results in less timely responses and lost actions buried inside a lot of spam.

I know some people disagree with my approach, but I often see them as constantly distracted and overworked while lacking the focus to put out quality work. They tend to provide the appearance of being on top of everything by spending all day in meetings and dropping everything every time an email pops up. When everything is the top priority however, then nothing is and performance drops off.
Would it be possible to grab the main issues, create a doc in Google drive for example under the relevant headings, and pop the link into the chat with a note saying "so that I don't miss the key points I've created this doc etc..... it might nudge them gently to transfer points there and less likely to be a chat.
Drea,

similar to PM in the era of whatsapp, or Kanban Boards, or zoom.

Tools should not drive the application of project management.

If you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

I recommend to step back, exercise divergent thinking and take different perspectives on your situation / problem.

Thomas
Slack is just for discussions, not documentation in my opinion. We also have slack channels for each large project as well as for different resource groups/teams/process needs.

In the project slack channels, you may try pinning to a project repository where documents are stored (link to action/risk registers, schedules, etc). Maybe post/pin a weekly status update where everyone can see it to keep everyone in sync.

Just a couple suggestions of things we are trying in this arena as well!

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