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Project Communication Management

What is Project Communication Management?

Project Communications Management is the systematic planning, implementing, monitoring, and revision of all the channels of communication within an project, and between project and external enviroment.

In project management, communication management must address the following questions:

  • What information needs to flow in and out of the project?
  • Who needs what information?
  • When is the information needed?
  • What is the format of the information?
  • Who will be responsible for transmitting and providing the information?

Project Communication Management Process

Project Communications Management includes the processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval, and ultimate disposition of project information. Project managers spend the majority of their time communicating with team members and other project stakeholders, whether they are internal (at all organizational levels) or external to the organization. Effective communication creates a bridge between diverse stakeholders involved in a project, connecting various cultural and organizational backgrounds, different levels of expertise, and various perspectives and interests in the project execution or outcome.

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Figure above provides an overview of the Project Communication Management processes, which are as follows:

Identify Stakeholders—The process of identifying all people or organizations impacted by the project, and documenting relevant information regarding their interests, involvement, and impact
on project success.

Plan Communications—The process of determining the project stakeholder information needs and defining a communication approach.

Distribute Information—The process of making relevant information available to project stakeholders as planned.

Manage Stakeholder Expectations—The process of communicating and working with stakeholders to meet their needs and addressing issues as they occur.

Report Performance—The process of collecting and distributing performance information, including status reports, progress measurements, and forecasts.

Importance of Effective Communication

Communication is the glue that holds a project team together. It is not just talking, it is also listening. Without clear, timely, unambiguous communication, even a small team working together will have major problems. In the case of a virtual team, poor communication will render an already challenging situation nearly impossible to control.

The project status needs to be tracked and monitored effectively using various tracking tools. He/she should ensure timely and appropriate generation and collection of information. He/she should follow email ethics during formal written communication. Being precise and clear while communicating helps achieve better understanding. The law of success says:

35% Hard skills + 65% soft skills = 100% success

(Statistics courtesy – Harvard Business School).

As a project manager, one should know there are potentially hundreds of communication channels. The larger the project, the greater opportunity for communications to break down. Here’s a nifty formula to find out how many opportunities there are for communication to fail:

(N*(N-1))/2.

That’s N times N-1 divided by 2. N represents all the key stakeholders.

Effective communication includes a well-designed infrastructure and the processes, messages, and documents that use that infrastructure to exchange information among project stakeholders and keep them aligned with the project goals and informed of the project’s progress.

Who you should comminicate with?

Communicating within the Team

Internal communications happen primarily through team meetings, memos, voice mail, and e-mail. Project managers need to be able to write, speak, and listen well, lead meeting and resolve conflicts effectively.

Communicating with Upper Management and Customers

External stakeholders, such as sponsor, customer and resource manager, must be kept informed of progress and their inputs solicited. “The communication plan should detail the strategy not only for informing these stakeholders, but for actively managing their expectations as well”.

Communicating with other External Players

Every component and every stakeholder in your project, however a minor role he or she may play, is important. Even minor role players have the potential to come out large if they fall behind schedule, eventually affecting your critical path. So, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all players outside your department or your company, nominated as contact persons, are already on board psychologically. Be proactive in making them a successful part of your project through making personal contact, establishing some rapport face to face, asking for their help, providing them with all necessary information timely, and sending thank-you notes acknowledging their level contribution to them personally and their supervisors.

Best Practices for Project Time Management

Most communication skills are common for general management and project management, such as, but not limited to:

• Listening actively and effectively,

• Questioning, probing ideas and situations to ensure better understanding,

• Educating to increase team’s knowledge so that they can be more effective,

• Fact-finding to identify or confirm information,

• Setting and managing expectations,

• Persuading a person or organization to perform an action,

• Negotiating to achieve mutually acceptable agreements between parties,

• Resolving conflict to prevent disruptive impacts, and

• Summarizing, recapping, and identifying the next steps.

Conclusion

Communication is among the more important factors for success in project management. Communication is the fuel that keeps the project running smoothly. As a manager, one must take a contingency approach to communicating with their employees and communicate on a personal level.

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