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You are here: Home Blogs Communicate Proactively Based on Your Project Size
Thursday, 04 February 2016 15:51

Communicate Proactively Based on Your Project Size

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You all know the drill. You are juggling managing a project, solving problems, providing leadership to the team, and trying to get all the work done on time and within budget. However, when your manager or your customer asks how the project is going, you simply reply “fine”.

Many project managers try to communicate with the minimum possible effort. Part of this hesitancy is a lack of comfort with written and verbal communication in general. It could also be that most project managers simply do not understand the value that proactive communication provides on a project.

Like it or not, communication is one of the core project management processes. However, the communication process can be scaled based on the size of the project. For small projects, the level of communication might be as simple as making sure the business customer understands that the work has begun, and notifying them when the work is completed. Nothing fancy there.

Status Reports Satisfy Basic Communication Requirements

Problems can occur when you apply this small project model to much larger projects. As you get into larger projects, you will need to get into status reporting. Status Reports provide information to the key stakeholders on the current status of the project and what work has been completed since the last communication. These are also forums to discuss outstanding issues, scope change requests, risks, etc. The main purpose of the status reports is to manage expectations and make sure there are no surprises. Delivering bad news is not a communications problem. Not effectively managing expectations is a problem. Lay it all out in the status report, and don’t surprise your stakeholders.

Create a Communication Plan for Large Projects

On larger projects, especially those that impact a wide variety of people, the basic status report is no longer enough. The communication needs to be proactive, multifaceted and targeted. This is the time for establishing a formal Communication Plan. In a Communication Plan, you think about your major stakeholders, their information needs, and the best way to satisfy those needs. Then, you can tailor specific types of communication to meet the particular needs of each audience. In a Communication Plan you identify and plan for three types of communication:

Mandatory communication such as budget and status reports.

Informational elements such as an online repository of project documentation, lunch and learns, and frequently asked questions.

Marketing elements such as pep rallies, success stories, testimonials, and posters to display in the company lobby.

Communication - Just Do It!

Project managers must get over the fear and reluctance to communicate proactively. There are some projects where the project manager thought he had done a good job, but the client was not satisfied because he or she did not know what was going on. There are also projects that went badly overbudget and deadline, but were still viewed as a success because the client knew what was going on and the expectations were managed well.

You have all heard the simple saying, “communicate, communicate, communicate.” Project managers should take this to heart. There are many aspects of a project that are not totally within your hands. Communication, however, is something that is directly within your control. You might be surprised how smoothly your project progresses when you communicate proactively to the team, customers, and stakeholders.

At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Read 1468 times Last modified on Thursday, 04 February 2016 15:54
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