Project Management Communication Techniques
Without good communication, very little of quality can get completed, as it is the foundation of a strong and healthy relationship, partnership or friendship. In particular, within the realm of Project Management it is the way projects work as well. For without good communication, things can become over complicated. Even with an airtight project plan, it will be difficult to achieve the first milestone without proper communication management.
Project communication is the process of identifying key information that will be shared with team members and stakeholders throughout a specific project. This includes listing out stakeholders and identifying team members that will be on project communications. It’s key to outline out how communication recipients will receive project updates, the frequency they’ll receive it, as well as the points during the project they’ll receive it.
As the project plan is developed, the communication plan should also be developed along with it so everyone has the necessary context and can do their job effectively at each step. The points of communication, along with the contact list, will be in between each of those steps as they would need to get edits, comments and ultimately, approvals.
Communication management is everything, a project plan cannot be created and then hope everyone sticks to it. Once the plan is created and everyone is on board, a resource should be allocated as the key contact to manage the plan throughout the entirety of the project. This could either be the Project Manager or another resource, normally someone who has a good sense of communication. For example, a project manager can manage the deliverables on the agency side, and an account manager can manage all communications on the client-side, working as a tag-team to make the project successful.
To ensure solid communication management throughout a project, a communication management plan should be created. The benefits of a communication management plan are five-fold:
- A written framework that both client/stakeholders/team members can reference. This can help in case there is any need for mediation. There is a written paper trail which can be referred to, should it be needed. It can also be beneficial for accounts payable to reference in case there are gaps in time tracked for the project.
- The plan itself will manage expectations from stakeholders to not anticipate a finished project before the deliverables have been tested for quality assurance.
- The points at which communication is shared allow both stakeholders to provide valuable feedback to the project process as well as the final product, and give team members a chance to brainstorm ideas together, bridging the divide between the two groups.
- It allows all involved to better discover risks and issues early on.
- It helps to eliminate the need to hold unnecessary meetings on the books, saving both time and money.
Understanding why communication management matters might sound like a normal requirement for any organization, it’s not always accomplished well.
Communication can be bolstered by having an online project collaboration tool, like the ones found at Projectmanagementcompanion.com. Online Project Management tools allow managers to roll out project plans, and then disseminate information to team members at the right time for the right task. Tasks allow for comments, attachments, embedded links, descriptions, to-do lists and more, so everyone gets the directions right the first time.
How is communication achieved in such a way that it effectively cuts down on lost productivity time?
The following are some tips and techniques to ensure communication management plan is performing at optimal levels.
- Include a description of the project landscape in the original plan: Give the project a background including the organization’s short-term and long-term goals, who the stakeholders are, who the team members are, how much budget will be involved, what resources will be needed and how much time the project is expected to take. Include objectives as well as the project vision to ensure that the background isn’t just an outline, but a robust, fully-developed and communicated plan so that it can better generate project buy-in.
- Assign an owner of the communication process: Depending on the size of the organisation, this could be divided between the Project Manager who is focused on delivery and the Account Manager whose job it is to communicate.
- Include a review process: Setting up a formalized review process will ensure that no one will miss a beat when it comes time to assess the project.
- Set up a system for messages to be delivered: Determine if a project management software or Microsoft Excel is to be used. Is communication occurring via Slack, Skype, or just email? Include all of this in the plan so that everyone knows the best way to make contact.
- Meeting Management: This pairs along with creating a stakeholder management plan. Meetings can be a waste of time (and a lot of the time, they can be better said in an email). Make sure meetings only include the stakeholders who will be involved in the decision-making process and then create an agenda for each meeting for everyone to follow. This will help the group to stay on task and on topic.
There are many ways in which good communication management can save a project from disaster and keep everything working at optimal levels. But what happens when leadership (or the project communication owner) displays ineffective methods of communication? The project can quickly fall into peril.
Here are some communication management mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t be passive-aggressive: Refusing to speak directly to a co-worker, team member or stakeholder can limit the project’s progress entirely. Passive aggression can also look like one is avoiding a task or a project because of the people involved. Passive aggression in the workplace can be the cause of missed deadlines, wasted time, lost revenue and more.
- Don’t micromanage the project process: Micromanagement is damaging for any work environment in a myriad of ways; it increases health risks, affects employee turnover, decreases productivity and slows down project progress. Trust team members and stakeholders to deliver results on time and on budget, this should make for a happier, more effective product outcome.
- Don’t rely on electronic communications: A lot can be lost over text or email. As facial expressions, tone of voice can be missed, and can thus misunderstand what is being requested. Additionally, while meetings slow down workplace productivity, a deluge of emails can have the same effect. Remember that the best ways to communicate, especially during project milestones, are face-to-face.
- Don’t forget to document everything: The only way to properly review the success of a project is by looking back at the data via documentation. With documentation, it can be determined who did what, which tasks were delivered when, and how much the project cost overall.
Managing communications for the duration of a project is never an easy task. The assistance of a reputable project management software tool can assist in helping teams collaborate effectively across multiple platforms. Sign up for a free 30 day trial and see for yourself.