Friday, August 12, 2011

How to create a free social project management environment using Facebook

Will ever happen to coordinate in a rush for a small initiative, perhaps in a short time and with the need to include some people? What happens is a big waste of time just to agree on thinks to do and maybe with no planning and with the risk of forgetting important details. Morover if working group is physically distant things get even more complicated between confused phone calls and cross communications. The Result? Initiative is successful anyway, but we get tired, we lost a lot of time and we have surely forgotten something important! I'm not just talking about work projects but also in real life: for example, organize a party, write a book or an article or organize a trip with friends and have little time and lots to do! The anser to all problems is Social Project Management: with the help of Facebook and online tools you can organize small projects using online tools accessible from their mobile devices and completely free.

I considered the following characteristics in choosing the right tools for Social Project Management:

1. Use of online tools 
2. Use of the tools on mobile devices 
3. Ability to share the use of instruments with friends 
4. No cost 
5. No registration tools but use of a single email and password to work
Here are the steps:

1. Create a group on Facebook
 It's possible to create following groups: open, closed or secret. In open groups, everyone can see group members and read all posts; in the second case you can only see members groupbut not read the posts and in the third case the group is visible to members only. There is the possibility of creating a fan page if you want to make the project fully open and receive the help of all friends.What type of group created depends on the type of project: If you arrange for a vacation might be nice to show everyone the project and maybe get the contribution of others who have had the same experiences. Or if you project is top secret you can choose the latter group.

2. Add friends to the group

It can be done during or after creation of the group as shown in the image below.

Adding a friend to the group

3. Brainstorm and plan the solution.  
Before leaving the solution you need to discuss and plan activities, gathering around a virtual table. To guide the discussion is important to focus on the following questions:
What? What you want from the project i.e. what are the objectives: complete relaxation? exploration? culinary vacation?

How? How will you achieve your goals? Organize car tour? Book a holiday resort all inclusive? Making the tour on foot or by public transport alone?
Who and When? After you decide to do the things you also must determine who does what and then distribute the tasks with a clear date to completion.
The annunced videoconference in chat window

To carry on brainstorming I reccomend the use of videoconference software like Skype and a mind mapping software named Mindmeister. For videoconference at the moment it's possible to use Facebook with with version Skype v. 5.5 to meet friends and share with them voice and video. Also Facebook annunced that will integrate videocall in chat window. 
Using Mindmeister to plan the projects
While for mind mapping  Mindmeister that allows you to collaborate online with your friends building mind mapping diagrams. It is also possible to schedule and assign tasks for which it is the ideal tool to start. Unfortunately Mindmeister is not integrated into Facebook but you can authenticate using your google email without registering to the service.
As you can see from the picture above, MindMeister allows you to use different icons and colors but also has the ability to assign tasks. The tool uses iCal to publish list of activities for which you can import calendars from their well to MindMeister (Only in premium version though), in addition to sending the e-mail notification prior to the completion of the activity.
Sharing online docs
4. Share documents 
In three simple steps we started a project. Now remains only to understand how to share documents in a common place. If we do not have documents locally but we want to create new ones in a collaborative way we can use the service Docs.Com that allows to create on-line Office documents and also permits to download them locally: Doc, Excel and Power Point. After we cretaed a document it's possible to share it in Facebook using a simple URL. User can sets different permissions to different users.
If the document to share isn't a Doc, Excel, Power Point, then you can use the cloud-sharing service DivShare, which provides free 5Gb of space. DivShare also doesn'r requires a registration if you want to use your Fabcebook login.
We've done! With four simple steps we have put together a project, share ideas, plans and documents. All that remains is to work using this little Social Project Management plaform!

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