At one time the notion of a communication program in project management consisted of whatever the project manager was willing to share with you. Back inside the days when project management was synonymous with project scheduling and the main industries that used project management had been construction and defense, and heavy industry, the project manager’s word was law and whatever he (or she) decided to report, that was it. Output from the scheduling department might be a straightforward list of key target dates or maybe a summary bar chart written by a draftsman and annotated all over the page.
Of course those had been also the days prior to cell phones, e-mail, faxes along with the Net.
Project management in today’s world is expected to be as extensive as probable, and technology can go a lengthy way towards producing the project manager’s life a whole lot less complicated.
For new project managers, they may well not have even thought of performing a communication plan but some preparation just before your project gets going can save you enormous suffering later.
Begin by identifying who will must be communicated with. Project stakeholders is an easy way of saying every person who has some interest inside the project but these may well consist of: The executive sponsor, the client, the project management team, the leaders of resources included in the project, sub-contractors, prime contractors, the end users and, obviously, the project team.
Next consider what you might must communicate with these folks about. I tend to divide this by: period, by incident, by key milestone. For example, you may have to talk to your team about your weekly project meeting. You might also set up informing the executive sponsor about project progress at a summary level on a monthly basis. Those are per-period kind of communications. You may commit to updating the client as well as a steering committee about status at a stage-gate point, like at the end of a phase or you might do a team project review at the end of each major deliverable. Those are per milestone communications. Lastly, you may commit to communicate using the executive sponsor or the client if the project exceeds threshold levels for example more than 10% late or much more than 15% over or under budget. Those are per-incident communications.
This can be completed on a easy grid on a spreadsheet. You will find lots of examples on the internet.
If you are thinking that is already plenty of communicating, fear not. Technology can now play a hand to make an enormous difference in executing that communication.
Email obviously is really a excellent method to get information from 1 person to another and also gives some audit of communications delivered. Nowadays many company men and women are reading their emails from intelligent phones on their hip, so if the data is urgent or if it calls for a rapid response, e-mail is the obvious choice.
A great deal of reporting nevertheless can be carried out by means of one-to-many communication tools. Setting up a Google Group takes a couple of minutes and supplies a place to store documents and make brief announcements, and even offer a place for men and women to update you with comments for example a evaluation of a draft design document. Google is hardly the only service to present such group setups but it is totally free, comes with several gigabytes of storage and may be kept private by defining the group as by invitation only.
Keen to go a bit further? Both Google and Microsoft provide Application areas that are either free or offered at extremely low cost. They usually contain a location to create lists of points, store documents and display calendars for the participants, to which they are able to subscribe. Users can generally also set up alerts for new info posted to either a Group or Application area which will then appear in their email.
In some environments, one tool that has become increasingly more common is setting up a blog from a key team member such as the project manager or a key developer. The blog is closed normally, but it is a great way for team members who may well not be located nearby to maintain up with short news about how the project is progressing from that person’s perspective, and even to comment on developments as they happen. Blogs may be set up in dozens of places but blogspot.com and wordpress.org are frequent and no cost destinations. Blogs may also be set-up internally with almost no technical effort at all.
When there’s a lot of technical info that must be documented as well as the documenters is going to be a varied group, then producing a wiki is an outstanding option. Most of us have stopped by Wikipedia to look up details at 1 time or another. Wikis, however, are not restricted to that one site. The technologies could be installed or utilised as a free service from dozens of locations. What makes a Wiki intriguing is that a shell of subjects could be developed by a central authority and then anybody using the suitable rights can contribute to the actual content. Imagine, for instance, that you’d like to produce a document of best practices for the new application you are writing. You create a private Wiki and put as headings the functional menu selections of the whole application. Now Beta Testers, Documenters, Developers and ultimately the end users and customers can contribute their thoughts to the Wiki and enrich the entire user community with practices, guidelines and tactics that have been learned. We’re performing some thing like this ourselves for our own product TimeControl right now.
When it comes to meetings most of us appreciate making use of video conferencing from folks like GoTo Meeting, WebEx or others and sharing our PowerPoints whilst doing so. You’ll find, nevertheless, some wonderful technologies for producing meetings more successful. As an alternative to a static one-to-many PowerPoint that every person speaks to from their speakerphone, how about employing a far more dynamic on-line screen that includes the agenda, commitments that had been created at the last meeting along with who made them, decisions which are taken at this meeting and documents that every person can see at the identical time. I know that the totally free version of Windows SharePoint Services that comes with Windows Server has a template specifically like this which might be activated whenever you generate a “worksite” to a recurring calendar item. People’s jaws normally drop when I show off this no cost feature and they’ve had it offered to them prior to I even arrived.
Having chosen whatever technology is suitable for your organization, your communication program may be rounded out by creating some templates for typical communication in advance, so you do not need to invent it on the fly when under the pressure of a project that’s underway.
Whatever your communication program along with the tools you are going to make use of to deliver it, set expectations of the stakeholders before you begin. If men and women know and agree on a frequency of a particular kind of communication long in advance, it can save a tremendous quantity of grief and misunderstanding later.