Categorized | Management

The importance of communication in projects

Projects can be complex to manage – they are an amalgam of parts joined together to perform a specific task – inputs include activities and schedules through to people, suppliers and resources. The task of Project Management is often talked about as spinning plates – keeping many activities going without everything crashing to the floor. Given this balancing act it’s unsurprising that the key skill project managers need to possess is one of effective communication.

Why is communication vital? Consider that within most projects there are set of stakeholders these may include

• Project team
• Users of the deliverable
• Senior stakeholders/Decision makers (often those that are paying for the project)
• Suppliers or outside agencies

Firstly consider what would happen to your project if you did not communicate effectively.

• The project team wouldn’t know what to do
• Your steering board wouldn’t know how well the project was performing
• Your user community wouldn’t be aware of the changes that would be made by the project (or also have input into it if that was required)
• External providers would be unable to help you effectively.

These are just a few of problems that would occur in getting the communications wrong. However knowing you need to communicate is not the full answer.

One size fits all?

When considering communications remember that one size does not fit all – different stakeholders will require different communications at different frequency – not everyone will need the same information. Many projects will utilize a stakeholder assessment process which will endeavour to group the stakeholders and then tailor communications to ensure that they are effective.

What underpins effective communication within a project environment is a communications plan – this important document considers how information is promulgated, to whom, in what forms and at what frequency throughout the lifecycle of the project. It isn’t the communication itself merely a guide for the project team to follow during their project.

Getting communications right can bring significant benefits – increasing efficiency and buy in. Its not easy to get right and in large complex projects requires resources and dedicated planning the achieve desired results however for the project to be a success consideration is needed upfront within the project timeline in order that the communications plan can be dovetailed with the project schedule.

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