#elthack: Using Twitter as an ELT Project Management Tool

We at eltjam are always looking for a more innovative, intuitive way of doing things. One such ‘life hack’ that works incredibly well for managing or collaborating on ELT projects is good ol’ twitter. It can be used as a very slick (and free) platform for communicating and coordinating with your project team. As any PM will tell you (or ought to); once you’ve got your communication strategy licked you’re all set for an easier run through the project. Here’s how you do it:

1. Set up a new, project-specific account (for example, @newcourse) and set it to private/invitation only. Follow your project team on their accounts and make sure they follow @newcourse back. 

2. Register the new account with a GroupTweet  or another service that allows multiple users to tweet from the same twitter account.

3. Create and add on a bit.ly account to shorten links and file names. Bit.ly also enables you to track the number of click throughs on the links you send out, so you can actually monitor who opens what and when.

4. As long as anyone in the project team sends out a tweet with the @newcourse handle in it, all (and only) the project team will see it.

Ermm … What’s the point? Good question.

1. As the project kicks off you don’t want to be glued to the keyboard constantly sending update emails to all and sundry. The twitter character limit provides a concise, direct format in which to deliver the information. There’s also the option of sending links to files you’re working on(google docs, for example) or other sites that you’re using to host and coordinate your content. All you need is a smartphone and your whole team knows what you know.

2. Thanks to the wonder of hashtags you can create an entirely searchable project ‘dialogue’. By assigning different phases or activities of the project specific tags you’ll be able to filter through your twitter feed to get a snapshot of where any particular aspect of the project is. Be creative with the tags so that they allude to your specific workflow: #authorteam, #editorial, #production. Or, tag it by component to create a twitter/gantt hybrid: #sb1 (Student Book 1), #audio, etc. Encourage team members to share ideas/suggestions for realising hitherto unseen efficiencies by using something like #brainwave. It all depends on how you want to work.

3. There’s always the option of sending direct messages (DM) to team members, so it doesn’t always have to be open exchanges. This makes the platform a slick email/ticker tape combination that you can use from your chosen device anywhere.

4. To the opportunity to include other stakeholders in the process to keep them in the loop, like authors or suppliers. By being part of the private group they will get a regular, detailed view of the project which might help to cut down those weekly update meetings to the bare facts. Encouraging these stakeholders to participate in the process would also be immensely beneficial.

Tried it? Going to? How else can twitter be utilised as a PM tool and how can it be integrated into team working?

6 thoughts on “#elthack: Using Twitter as an ELT Project Management Tool”

  1. Like it. But in most companies, isn’t there likely to be a system for PM, maybe using Jira or Redmine or suchlike? Therefore, I think this would work well as a way of sharing and documenting ideas and innovation within the company, and may work well to organise projects with people from different departments or even companies, who you may not sign up as users on your PM system. It might also encourage some new ways of interacting and working which would suit innovation and creativity. Will give it a go.

    • Hi Jonathan,
      Thanks for the comment and great ideas about how this platform could be used as a way of promoting interaction and idea sharing across teams or companies. It would certainly be a great way for companies to encourage people to share thoughts/experiences on certain aspects of their operations under specific hashtags. If you do give it a go, let us know how you get on!

  2. Nice idea but I’d need some convincing. I’ve just spent the last 18 months project managing a multi-level, multi-component ELT course for a major international publisher. I’ve been involved with authors, editors, designers, software developers and plenty of others but could count on one hand the number of those on Twitter (as far as I’m aware). The sheer volume of information sent through emails, FTP-ed and Sharepoint-ed files would soon have exhausted the 140-character limit, whatever anyone’s best intentions. Maybe something for smaller projects, but we’d need to have some training sessions first. Perhaps there’s a gap in the market there…

    • Hi Karen,
      Thanks for the comment. There will definitely be a ‘tipping point’ at which the twitter PM approach will no longer be feasible, and I think you’ve just described it! A project like that (and its substantial volume of information) would certainly be better coordinated using more robust and sizeable tools. You also make a good point about the assumptions made about how many people actually use twitter; it’s not a given that all team members will be users.
      In terms of the project you described, do you think that the twitter approach would have been potentially useful in keeping only the key stakeholders informed (assuming they were users themselves)?

      • Hi Tim
        I’m struggling to think why anyone would use Twitter to keep even the key stakeholders informed when a clear subject line in an email, which can then be archived and searched for in various ways if necessary, does the job and we know everyone will see it. Sorry not to be more enthusiastic – I’m sure there are circumstances where Twitter could be a useful PM tool. I’ll let you know if I find one!


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