Communication in Project Management is important. Here are three things that I always teach:
- Projects fail due to poor, or a lack of, communication
- Communication is the project managers single most important task
- Communication should not be left to chance – it needs to be planned into the project
This blog will explain some project communication tools and show how to plan communication into a project. This blog will also emphasize why communication is important in Project Management.
Importance of Effective Communication
Effective Project Communication is vital. Without it the project – or any daily process involving people – is liable to failure.
Who do we communicate to? The Project Stakeholders and the Project Team. Please see a previous blog on Stakeholder Engagement, although this blog does not tell you ‘how’ to communicate.
Clear and efficient communication to the team and stakeholders is vital. Without this, the project can fail, or certainly be delayed.
Project Communication Tools
So what are the tools? I am going to suggest three matrices that can be used:
- Who to communicate to and when you will communicate it (Who/When)
- How you will communicate and who to (How/Who)
- What you will communicate and when you will communicate it (What/When)
All you need to do is identify ‘Who’ needs the communication, ‘What’ the Communication is, and ‘How’ you will communicate it. Then apply the tools as per the generic and simplified examples below.
Who to Communicate to / When you will Communicate
I have used generic titles in this example, you should use actual peoples names for your project.
This matrix will ensure regular communication to the correct people.
How you will Communicate / Who to
I have used generic methods in this example, you should use specific methods names for your project.
Use at least two methods for each recipient – one method may stop working for some reason.
This matrix will ensure the proper communication methods to the appropriate people.
What you will Communicate / When you will Communicate
I have used generic titles in this example, you should use specific reporting information for your project.
This matrix will ensure regular communication of the precise information.
There are more tools/methods here than are mentioned in either the APM BoK or the APM Competence Framework. I have talked about communication in those documents in a previous blog. Communication and the APM BoK and Competence Framework. Although the APM has a web page about Communication Plans, I believe the APM BoK is sadly lacking on the detail of ‘how to communicate’.
I think I will write another blog in the future on communication methods.
Communication with Microsoft Project
Certainly you now need to add the communication tasks into the project plan. Add them as tasks or milestones in the Work Breakdown Structure or Gantt Chart.
Software can become a distraction. The project manager needs to be talking to people rather than fighting with a project plan. However, there are ways to use Microsoft project as a communication tool. I’ve written a blog on Communication with MS Project.
I cannot overstate the importance of communication in Project Management. Imagine that you are at an interview for the post of a Project Manager and consider how you would answer the interview question: “Tell us how you are a good communicator?”.
Communication takes time and effort. It needs to be planned into the project, and getting it right is not easy.