This post is the first of a short series of posts on good communication. This first post will look at the value of good communication when managing a project and in general.
The value of Good Communication
CEO’s and other top managers clearly understand the importance of good communication in general. The Forbes Insights 2010 Strategic Initiatives Study “Adapting Corporate Strategy to the Changing Economy”, found that 92% of CEOs believe that communications is critical to the success of their strategic initiatives.
Good Communication is Essential in Project Management
Good communication is the lifeblood of a project. The need for good communication is far higher than in an operational environment where procedures have been implemented to support the flow of work being done.
According to PMI’s “Pulse of the Profession™ In-Depth Report: The Essential Role of Communications”, highly effective communicators are also far more likely to deliver projects on time (71 percent versus 37 percent) and within budget (76 percent versus 48 percent).
So, what are the factors that create effective communication?
- Let people know what the project status is
- This will ensure that the next task can be planned properly
- Will enable quicker and more informed decisions
- Having the project team wait for a decision is one of the easiest ways to slow a project down
- Good coms will make sure that all the information required to make a decision is available at the right time
- Keep people aware of the importance of the project to the organization. This will
- Help keep people committed to the project
- Help to keep the support of influential stakeholders
- Keep everyone involved in the project working together
- Projects are all about having people to work together to achieve a common goal.
- Good coms keep everyone aware of the common goal, the path being taken to get there, and where the project is today
These points may seem obvious, but they are frequently missed, not done well, or are no longer done well because the PM (project manager) needs to focus on solving issues. PM’s doing these tasks well are likely to be top performing PM’s.
Unfortunately, I often see projects where poor communication is causing wasted time and money.
How do you spot communication problems? Some projects simply have a chaotic feel about them. Even though the project tasks are well structured and are clearly understood, team members may only vaguely understand why they have been given the task or why the project is being run. In other projects, delays are common because the work between the teams is not properly coordinated. Quite often, the executive management team is frustrated because they do not know what is going on inside the project.
These kinds of issues point to communication issues. One of the main causes of poor communication is that the communication was not planned.
As an example, I recently took over project where the project manager had set up a series of meetings with all the important stakeholders and project teams. The meetings had not been planned and, unfortunately, many of these meetings were at the same time. The exiting project manager obviously could not attend all of them and jumped into meetings based on the current most urgent topic. Needless to say, the result was less than ideal and many people did not attend the meetings at all. After I restructured the project communications, the project started to make some real progress again.
In my next post I will look at developing a communication plan for new projects.