Keep Your Project on Track with Effective Communication
Good communication with all stakeholders is critical to building an atmosphere of transparency and trust that will in turn make it much easier to ensure that your project stays on track. As project manager, it is your job to establish the standards and methods for project communication early on, setting the tone for what you want to see throughout the project life span.
During the project planning phase, it is a good idea to put together a rough communication plan then gather input from all team members and external stakeholders. Be sure they know what you expect in the way of communication frequencies and modalities, as well as your objectives for communicating with each group. Get their feedback, take what you learn, and incorporate it into a comprehensive communication plan. Portions of your plan may be standardized, but be ready to adapt to the needs of your stakeholders as well as changing requirements that arise as the project progresses. Also be sure to consider any aspects of the overall project environment that might influence communication procedures and purposes.
Components of a Good Communication Plan
At a minimum, your plan should include information about the goals and objectives of project communication; communication methods and tools; frequencies of communication; high-level project management communication requirements and methods; and information about the target audiences for communication. You may also want to include performance indicators that will support evaluation of how well the communication plan is working as the project goes forward. Other items to consider are methods to ensure consistency in frequency and content, details of archiving and access to past messages, and means for stakeholders to present feedback and solve problems they may be having with communication.
In the early stages of developing your communication plan, it may be a good idea to establish a standard for messaging. Many projects run into problems due to mistakes and misunderstandings that can be blamed on poor communication techniques. Particularly in the case of text communications that may take place via email, forum or chat room, or text message, it is important that all team members understand what constitutes clear and complete communication.
Choose Convenient, Accessible Channels
Communication tools will likely vary according to the purpose of the communication, the nature of the message, and the roles of the parties involved. Along with the standard emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings, there is likely to be a need to support specific types of communication. For example, project managers will need a standard method for submitting resource requests and sending reports. Resource planners will need to receive information about resource availability and send out scheduling information to team members. Employees may need to use a tool like the Timewax mobile app to have a quick and easy way to enter progress reports from the field.
Clear Communication Leads to Successful Project Completion
A good communication plan will help you keep everyone on the same page and working well together for the duration of the project cycle. Be sure to make note of what works well, and capture useful feedback along with ideas for improvement that will help in refining your approach to communication for the next project.