Blogging is an important aspect of Clearspace and we regularly get questions about the value it can provide when used inside an organization. The first exposure many people have to blogging is in a more public context on the Internet that delivers the blogger's thoughts and opinions to the rest of the world. As a first impression this doesn't give many hints as to the value of blogging inside the enterprise. Last week CIO published an article on How to Use Enterprise Blogs to Streamline Project Management which did a great job of covering one use of blogs in the enterprise: project management. CIO also provided some great tips on adoption and how blogs can play nicely with email.


While blogs are typically most useful when many users participate, analysts and practitioners say you're better off to start small. Blogs work well when they catch on virally, and you need to introduce the idea to the right test group, who will then evangelize the idea to the rest of the enterprise.The CIO article reminded me of a Clearspace customer who is using blogs for project management. The 150-person consulting group (inside a larger company) is using Clearspace to manage the documentation and conversations associated with specific projects as well as provide better visibility into the projects for their managers and executives. To drive this visibility they are using a blog for each project that communicates updates and status so that project members have a focused place to post their information. The project blogs then roll up into aggregate views across multiple projects. During the project anyone can see what's been going on by reading the blog, and after the project there is a nice self-contained bundle of information about what happened in the project along with the documentation and other deliverables. Clearspace hasn't replaced the project planning side of projects, but it has consolidated and improved the source for information about the project for the rest of the company.


Dennis McDonald has recently released a spurt of posts on blogging in a project management capacity. He conducted an informal survey for exploratory purposes, which he has made available via a shared slide deck like the one embedded at the end of this post.


He makes a great point about the types of organizations and their projects make an impact on the role a blog could play in project managament stating:


it is clear that, just as organizations differ widely in terms of their willingness and ability to change processes and procedures to more collaborative models, the same can be said about project management. There are certain types of projects where the size, complexity, and time dependency call for heavy-duty task- and resource-management tools that are well integrated with corporate management, HR, and time reporting systems. In such cases the communication and publishing functions of the blog would take precedence by making the availability of reports and data from the more structured tools more accessible.


In other types of projects that are more development or innovation oriented, the collaborative and information sharing features of blogs and wikis might be much more important while the formal chart and task dependency management features of more traditional project management tools might take more of a back seat. In such processes where innovation, collaboration, learning, and mentoring take precedence over a set timelines and task dependencies, the core features of the blog might provide major benefits, especially if use of the blog can be tied to a reduction in inefficient email attachments and meetings.Blogging is a valuable communication tool that improves productivity inside companies and project management is a great example of how this value can be realized. I should add the same caveat that Dennis pointed out, it's really about leveraging blog-like functions; such as file management, discussion, tagging, and RSS feed management; rather than a strict blog. Even better, when "blogging" is well integrated into a suite of other collaboration tools, as is the case with Clearspace, you get a tremendous boost in value by focusing on the topic (in this case a particular project) rather than the tool being used.