Project
Communication
5 areas that can provide project teams a sense of purpose.

Project Communications is critical for their success. Whether information is in general conversation, by email or in a report it is the foundation of decision making and action taking.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) states that "One out of five projects is unsuccessful due to ineffective communications"

Communication comes from, and is made to, the leaders and managers, team members and project stakeholders including clients.

Communication can change opinions, provide a sense of purpose and gain support. It can make a difference in whether a project meets it's objectives or not.

The communication made by each person from manager, team member to stakeholder can make a difference.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
– George Bernard Shaw

About Communication

Communication

...is a two way street

It is important to remember that communications is in two parts, with messages constantly broadcast.

It involves

  • Sending messages
  • Receiving messages

Project Management Communication

Project Communication

In projects there are a number of key areas for communication, within the control of the team, that can impact the probability for success.

Below are 5 areas within the scope of project team controls that can provide project teams a sense of purpose.

  1. The Business Case

    The business case contains the justification for the project. Sharing this information on a regular basis can help ongoing decision making. Decisions relating to , for example, scope, requirements and risks. Having this information validated and re-communicated at regular intervals can keep a project on track to meet the business case. It can also highlight risks to the validity of the business case and/or business case achievement

    It can also be motivating to understand where you are against meeting the business case. Whether on or off track, energy can be forged, focus shaped and engagement maximised.

  2. The Vision

    Communicating how the project will meet the business is important for a number of reasons.

    For the Project Manager, it is an opportunity for the project manager to set expectations, to validate the approach, to get buy in from the stakeholders.

    For the team, it provides the picture that allows them to plan the work that needs to be done. It allows them to see how the work that they do fits in to the overall approach and where dependencies lie.

    For the sponsor, a chance to understand how the business case to be met and when and where they would like to be involved in activities.

    For the management and reporting structures, the information that will allow progress and quality to be reviewed and challenged. It also allows identification of where they can provide support.

  3. Key Milestones
  4. Communicating key milestones, whether they are on track and/or whether they are at risk has many benefits.

    It highlights information to allow the prioritisation of work.

    It allows celebration of milestones reached or action plans for milestones off track.

    Provide a culture that supports highlighting when team members do not believe that they will achieve their milestones and may put key milestones at risk. Have actions that support fixing problems not blaming the messenger.

    Maintain project communication in both directions.

  5. Checkpoints
  6. Communicate the information that is required for the next checkpoint, the information that is reported and any actions that are highlighted from a checkpoint.

    Expectations will be clearly communicated to the team.

    The team have an opportunity to formally and /or informally raise issues and risks that they identify from understanding where they contribute.

  7. Status
  8. Provide information of status information to the team. Let them know what is being communicated in reports that will go outside the team.

    Highlight where urgency is reported and whether the contribution of team members is being highlighted.

    Create visibility to nurture ownership and responsibility.

    Provide a mechanism for team members to highlight anomalies and / or misunderstandings in these reports in addition to a mechanism for identifying issues and risks.

Project Communication is both formal and informal.
Both methods are important and it is important not to forget the impact that informal project communication can make.

Formal Methods

  • Team Briefings
  • Presentations
  • One to one / face to face conversations
  • Reporting
  • Status Briefings
  • telephone - one to one or conferencing
  • video conference
  • web conferencing
  • email
  • messaging
  • Knowledge databases
  • Use of a Wiki
  • Videos

Less Formal Methods

  • body language
  • time and method of responding
  • actions - they are louder than words
  • 'the grapevine'
  • training
  • ideas boxes

References:

PMI  - The essential role of communication

Hutchinson's book: 
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships



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