Barriers to Project Communication

Posted by Brad Egeland

I’ve always held that project communication is the number one driving factor behind project success.  I also believe that it is the number one priority for the project manager.  The project manager must be a master communicator to have any hope to succeed – especially when more than 50% of all projects fail anyway.  As PMs, we need all the help we can get.

So what are some barriers to project communications and how can we overcome them?  Let’s look at a few…


Logistics is less of an issue now than ever before, but it still remains a concern.  Manage remote project team members isn’t easy for every project manager.  In fact, efficient and effective communication is even more of a critical need for the remote project manager than for one who is co-located with his team.  That said, communication can sometimes happen even faster in the remote setting because everyone is trained to quickly share info via electronic means.


As we create our teams from skilled resources located around the globe, it’s obvious that we can run into language barriers on some engagements.  Translators, or translation software, may be necessary and this need must be planned for when gathering the team and putting our project schedule together.  Use a tool like Seavus’ Project Viewer to share the schedule with everyone on the team for collaboration purposes, but don’t forget to include any necessary time for these translation requirements.

Technical capability

I’ve always said that IT project managers should come from a technical background in order to better understand the project and to be able to better communicate on technical issues with the project team.  There is also a credibility factor to consider.  Developers who think their project manager lacks technical competence are often going to be harder to lead.


Lack of experience carriers with it a natural communication barrier.  The PM with less experience is not as comfortable leading teams and customers and may not have the experience to communicate effectively when running project reviews and status meetings.  The ideal situation is for junior PMs to shadow and be mentored by more experienced PMs until they are ready to lead larger projects on their own.


Finally, workload can cause communication barriers.  If the PM or the project team members are overloaded on several projects it is harder to engage effectively on each of their projects.  If senior management isn’t doing a good job of managing the workload, then it is up to these project resources to raise the white flag and request that a project or two be offloaded to another resource.  Better to let go of one or two projects than to fail on five of them.


The bottom line is we must do everything we can to communicate effectively with our project team and our customer.  And that communication is a two-way street.  The responsibility also lies with our team and customer to keep the communication lines open.  What isn’t said on our projects hurts everyone far more than what is said.  Speak up, share information, and don’t hesitate to offer new or creative ideas.  If you don’t say it, it can’t be heard.

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One Comment to “Barriers to Project Communication”

  • Hello,
    Really touched by the words as this is the basic knowledge, as PM should be knowing :)

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