When Project Management meets Communication
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The art project management is many times not seen as one of communication. Yet, try to figure out project management without meeting minutes, follow up discussions, task assignments and (too many) emails.
As weird as it sounds, project management is all about communication.
Example: I am currently supporting a student lab where teams have to produce a blog every other week; at first, this task might sound like a burden, like something that is not useful for the team. After a couple of blogs, the team realizes that it is helping them understand the work that has been done and what lies in front of them. It also forces communication within the team to produce a document that is understandable by the audience at large, thus breaking some potential internal communication barriers.
This is why it is important to ensure that project management is heavily supported by a good communication process and that it is being taken seriously.
Action 1: Create a communication plan
As you embark in your project, as important as building a solid team, understanding how communication works inside and outside of the team is critical for the success of the project. To do so, start by creating a table that highlights the responsibility of each member of the team, it’s interaction with other members and the tools that would be used to communicate information resulting of the work being done. Each team member has to comply with the communication process to ensure smooth progress of the project. Basic communication tools such as WhatsApp or as complex as Microsoft’s Sharepoint are all good tools to consider for you team. The use of a central data repository is now easy with cloud tools such as Google Drive, Box, iCloud or OneDrive (just to name a few).
|Electronic engineer||Weekly project update, team meeting, GitBook updates||Weekly|
|Mechanical engineer||Weekly project update, team meeting, GitBook updates||Weekly|
|Project manager||Sharepoint site maintenance, meeting minutes and central posting||Weekly and monthly summary|
|Financial support||Shared spreadsheets on cloud site, weekly updates||Weekly and monthly summary|
Action 2: Establish a schedule
There’s nothing worse than having a communication plan and not having a good way to verify that it works. A clear schedule over a period of 2 to 5 months allows for good planning and ensures better participation of the team members into the communication process. It is important for each team member to set a high priority in attending communication meetings and producing meeting minutes that are understandable to all. Here too, book your meetings ahead of time by creating email groups in your favorite email client software and use them to communicate to the whole team (or sub-teams depending how large your project is).
About meeting minutes
I really do not care for a specific template on meeting minutes; as long as they are clear and structured, the formats does not really matter. Most important is to ensure that all members of the team are addressed into the communication so nobody is left out or isolated into the project. This inclusion of communication also applies to extend teams and external resources, they shouldn’t be excluded from your communication as they also have to manage time and resources to support your project. Not doing so would increase your risk in not getting the required support at the time you need it per yours project plan.
Important rule: be honest
I am going to be straight and blunt: communication that shows only the positive and the success of the project is usually not valuable and is suspicious.
If challenges and difficulties are not being tackled, you can consider that you will quickly fail at your task. For this reason it is important to address each task with honesty and face the reality of the moment. A good project manager is one that is aggressive and, most of all, realistic about the difficulties ahead. Good clarity and positive attitude will be your best allies to resolve difficulties.
I did not mean to make a drama about everything happening: you must ensure that every detail of the project is being documented and communicated accurately. Not only it avoids missing on some items but it also ensures that all the parties working on the project have a clear understanding of all the tasks being worked on. It also ensures that you have valuable content for future communications to your customers and eventual shareholders about the details and value of some of the features of your product. After all we know that content is king and that it isn’t easy to come by.
Remember that project management without communication will fail and that all stakeholders are hungry to know the status of the project. Don’t make it a secret, keep the progress and challenges posted at all times to promote ownership, creativity and team work. Your project will run smoother and your team will enjoy the collaboration.
Find other useful articles on the Stiffan Consulting website. I love supporting startups and established companies to link with universities and other education institutions to foster innovation and create valuable content via team assembly and partnerships. By assisting you in reviewing your goals, understanding the potential markets and validating your approach, I help create a winning strategy to ensure sustainable growth. For more information, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.