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15 February 2011

On blogging with Elizabeth Harrin of PM4Girls

In 2006 Elizabeth published a book called Project Management in the Real World. It was also the year she started publishing her blog, A Girl's Guide to Project Management.  I discovered her blog via the Carnival of Project Management.  This is also where I learned the acronym OTOBOS.

What's the most important thing you've learned in the last 5 years of blogging?

I can't please everyone, but in the main, people are lovely. And 'if in doubt, ask.' Online people are very generous with their time. Blogging has enabled me to meet lots of wonderful people, attend brilliant events, and review dozens of management books. I'm very fortunate to have been able to create a network of people as a result of blogging, but interacting with readers is the best thing.

Why are you still blogging on project management?

Because it's still important. The skills of project managers are in increasing demand. Project management remains high on the agenda for many organisations. Reform of project management practices is also a priority for the UK Government, and forms a section of the November 2010 Cabinet Office Business Plan (pdf), demonstrating the UK Government's ongoing commitment to improving efficiency in the public sector.

This is further cemented by the introduction of the Efficiency & Reform Group. Doing projects is a growing area, still. We continue to see the impact of outsourcing and off-shoring work, and the recent economic crisis has only highlighted the value of doing the right projects in the right way.

What do you think you'll be blogging about in 5 years? (And will you still be going?)

A Girl's Guide to Project Management was 5 in January, and I hope I'll still be going in another 5 years. I'm a writer, so I can't help it - I think I'd be writing in some form or another even if no one was reading. Over the last few years my blog has changed from centering on my personal stories to a larger focus on reporting on project management news and events. I still write about my experiences, but I think there are a number of blogs that focus directly on project management opinion and explaining techniques, so I like to think that by offering readers news and reviews I have a unique take on the project management blogging world.

I expect I'll be writing about the same communication issues as we see now. As much as I'd like to think human interactions will get a lot better with another 5 years practice, I don't realistically think they will. 

Projects are about people, and people are always going to have challenges dealing with each other in workplace settings: that's just how we are. I expect I'll be writing more about virtual teams, managing remote workers and as I am often inspired by my own career journey, more about portfolio management, which is what I'm doing now. I hope I'll be an expert videographer by then (I got a tripod for Christmas so new videos should at least be less shaky). I might even have learned podcasting!

What's the biggest social media mistake you've made?
I'll give you two: Not having a Facebook page for my blog. I've been asked several times how people can 'Like' my blog posts but I've never got round to setting one up, partly because I guard my profile on Facebook fiercely as it is the only domain I have not populated by project managers and business analysts. I have to have somewhere online that is just for me and my non-PM friends.

And last year my blog database disappeared and wiped out all my posts. I tried to sort it out and ended up posting the standard Wordpress test post (the one that says "Hello World") to my blog, which automatically got Tweeted out from a number of people who pick up my feed. When I got the database back I deleted that test post but was then contacted by people saying the link they had was broken. I learned never to delete posts. And also the value of doing regular backups