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How to Improve Project Communication

By Bisk
How to Improve Project Communication

Effective communication is often the foundation of successful projects. Good communication can unite team members and stakeholders to a project's strategy, objectives and budget. It can also enable everyone involved in the project to understand his or her roles, which may make them more likely to support the project. Without effective communication, projects can incur more risk and fail to meet desired outcomes.

Research by the Project Management Institute (PMI® supports this assertion. The PMI reported that among companies with highly effective communication, 80% of projects met their goals, compared to a 52% success rate for those with minimally effective communication. The more effective communicators enjoyed much higher rates of on-time and on-budget performance, as well (72% vs. 37% and 76% vs. 48%, respectively).

Organizations who take steps to improve project communication can reap the benefits of more successful projects, which is especially important in this complex and competitive global business environment.

Tips for More Effective Project Communication

Project managers and C-Suite executives often agree that effective communication to stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle is an essential core competency. Here are some tips to communicate more effectively:

  • Make communication a priority – Communication should be front and center in all project planning. Make a conscious effort to engage in a communication strategy.
  • Don’t assume you know everything – If you’re struggling in a particular area, seeking help from others with more experience is advisable. Emphasize that communication is a two-way street, and allow stakeholders to offer their views when appropriate.
  • Keep things positive – Don’t hide negative news, but avoid gloom-and-doom updates to stakeholders who may already be nervous about the project’s progress. Share information that tells them what they need to know. Explain problems or setbacks clearly, but be sure to include the solutions, as well.
  • Switch up the communication channels – Weekly emails are great, but also include face-to-face updates and phone calls, or new charts, graphs and images to keep communications fresh, and help recipients pay attention to the details.
  • Keep updates timely and concise – Don’t overwhelm stakeholders with details. Instead, keep project updates clear and concise. But, make sure stakeholders know what they need to know in the appropriate time frame.

Develop a Communication Strategy

The PMI report concluded that companies that communicate more effective were more likely to use project communication plans on every project. When developing a communication strategy, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Who needs to be informed? Project team members, executives, stakeholders or clients?
  • What kind of communication will be required? Team and management meetings, project updates?
  • How frequently will communication be needed? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?
  • What details must be communicated? Meeting notes, progress, problems, successes?
  • Who needs to know what? For example, does the CEO need to know about a delivery hitch? Who needs to know about budget overages?

When preparing communications, continue demonstrating how the key project deliverables are benefitting the business and/or stakeholders. Tailor your message to the various stakeholder groups, and limit the fine points to those on a must-know basis.

Project Management Metrics for Long-Term Value

Research has shown that improving project communication increases the likelihood of achieving objectives. As a project manager, your success depends on successful projects. It makes sense to implement a sound project communication strategy for each project. Be sure to demonstrate your understanding of project deliverables, its impact on the business and the quality achieved for each deliverable. Modify your communications to each audience so they can remain engaged, supportive and confident in the outcome of your project.



Category: Project Management