IPMA International Project Management Association
15 March 2019 / 9:00

P’elfies (project selfies): Can they be useful for project management?

Selfie-storm has gripped the world in recent times. From nobles to nomads, from officials to ordinary folks; everyone seems to be lovin’ the idea to capture and share the life moments on-the-go. Even the robotic rovers have caught-up with the trend, regularly sharing ‘mars moments‘ and ‘moon moments‘ of their life from extraterrestrial habitat – in hindsight confirming that living-beings are surely coming up with nice little trends which even artificial intelligence devices are happy to follow.

Project management being kind of an in-the-moment profession cannot remain aloof to these developments. In fact, project management provides a lot more opportunities to capture the developments and milestones on an ongoing basis, justifying the need for P’elfies (project selfies).

We define P’elfies as “the record of key instances and moments captured during the project delivery for the purpose of lessons learned management, knowledge sharing and digitalization of project life-cycle.”

P’elfies management is similar to other managerial actions taken during the project execution for archival, documentation and record keeping purposes. Given the amount of time and effort that could be involved in P’elfies management, the question is: Can P’elfies be useful for project management?

The answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’

‘No’, if P’elfies becomes a distraction for the project work, and one may end-up doing distraction management rather than project management.

If the effort is handled in a contained and deliberate manner to record project moments, then ‘Yes’, capturing P’elfies can be useful from multiple perspectives. We discuss below some of the possible areas where P’elfies can actually be useful for project work.

Possible areas of P’elfies’ usefulness for project management

  1. Project moments capture

P’elfies can be used to capture key moments in the projects such as milestone achievements, deliverable acceptance, project team(s) formation and disbanding moments, project team happy moments, and client visit moments, just to mention a few.

Capturing project moments will not only serve to keep a record of the key instances but will also help in team binding and staff development activities.  Recording project moments through P’elfies can also help in building a positive work environment and provide intrinsic motivation to people working on projects.

  1. Project lessons learned through Project photo-stories

Lessons learned is one of the key activities in project management. P’elfies based visuals can be added to the relevant text content of lessons learned information making it easy to understand lessons learned, particularly when referring to the lessons learned of past projects. P’elfies can also help in making people feel more interested and inclined to read the lessons learned, thus enhancing the utility of lessons learned documents.

P’elfies will help people relate to lessons learned information as they can see real-life photo-grabs. In fact, lessons learned for a project can be recorded as a series of P’elfies, with each photo followed by some text. P’elfies can thus enable development of project photo-stories.

  1. Project record/archives:

P’elfies can be used for keeping a record of project habitat, project assets, project infrastructure, project start and end sessions, physical project documents (e.g. files, drawings) shelving showing the quantity and coding/naming conventions of project documents (useful for large projects), project document storage, and any other important happenings that can be captured ensuring privacy, dignity and respect for the people involved in the happening.

The digitalization of project record through P’elfies can help in sharing, consolidating and analyzing records from many projects to identify improvements for future projects and their management processes.

  1. ‘Good cop, bad cop’ examples

A picture is worth a thousand words. As such, P’elfies records can be analyzed for good and bad project examples. Such analysis can result in identifying improvement opportunities and avoiding problems in future. Good project examples can be useful for best practices development too.

Overall risk management and quality management of projects can potentially improve through P’elfies records and associated information.

  1. Project History of an organization or an industry

P’elfies management can help organizations maintain their own history of projects and project management. The same thing can be done by industrial bodies to keep a record of key projects within industry for knowledge sharing and industrial growth purposes.

Organizations keeping a record of projects using P’elfies will be able to identify gaps in their project management maturity and development versus their competitors, thus being able to put in place strategies for their future growth.

  1. Global Project Life book

P’efies can help project management professional organizations to develop a Global Project Life Book showing the development of project management as a profession over a period of time across countries and regions. Such an effort will also help project management bodies to examine the compatibility of their standards, guidelines and professional advisories and align their standards to the needs of industries and organizations.

By developing a digital Global Project Life book using P’elfies, the professional organizations will be able to understand their contributions towards development of project management profession as a whole. Such an effort will also help these bodies to take cognizance of past and lead the profession into the future.

Concluding thoughts:
Keeping-up with the trends is often a debatable matter and eventually comes down to personal choices. Taking selfies has become very common these days, both in personal and professional settings. As discussed above, P’elfies seem to have potential utility for project management knowledge development. Hence, taking a formal, deliberate approach to P’elfies management can be useful for the profession in near and far terms. Needless to say, the above list of potential areas is neither complete nor exhaustive, but just provide some early thoughts on the subject.

Authored by:
Professor Jiwat Ram
© 2019 Jiwat Ram, All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment

  • Heather says:

    Article does a nice job of laying out the pro’s and cons of product selfies, interesting to see how using selfies can help in various ways.

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Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments such as Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Australia, among others. Over his career, he has provided leadership in establishing, designing, and delivering Executive education / Master’s, Training, and Research programs.

Jiwat is currently serving on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project Management.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community by speaking at various events and writing on emerging issues. His work has been published in top scientific journals and Four of his published papers have remained in Top25 most downloaded papers. Additionally, two of his papers have been ranked as the Most Cited article published since 2012, one in the International Journal of Production Economics and the other in Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. More recently, he has published a number of articles on some of the issues confronting project management in various industry based outlets.