Effective communication is essential in project management as poor communication is the main reason for project failure. This is because humans are involved at every stage of the project, and humans are fallible. In large projects external consultants can be integral to the success of the project. Project management consultants such as Milestone UK provide effective solutions for project managers based on key operational requirements including training and software.
The stakeholders have requirements which must be ascertained and understood in detail and communicated to everyone else who is involved in the project. This includes the team, the Project Board and third-party vendors. It is vital that everyone knows what the client's expectations are and what the goals are for the project.
The project team will comprise a diverse group of people who all have different responsibilities, skills, and roles to play. It is essential that the project manager keeps the team well informed so that they know what is expected of them, and, specifically, what their tasks are and how to accomplish them. They also need to be aware of when they need to deliver their part of the project as well as the budget, time constraints and their objectives.
A communications plan is vital. Before the project begins, careful thought needs to be given to communication and the processes it will involve. The plan should give details of the type of communication that will take place during the project — who will receive such communications and in what format and where the information will then be stored. Examples are face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, email, video conferencing, presentations and the intranet and so on. The methods should be varied to ensure that the message reaches its intended audience.
A schedule of communication should be formulated to include status reports and project team meetings. Processes for addressing problems and queries also need to be put in place and communicated to all who are involved.
As work begins on the project, face-to-face communication with the project team as a first step enables all members to know who they are working with and to more easily form good working relationships.
The project manager can utilise team-building techniques and possibly suggest communication skills training in order to create a cohesive group of co-workers. She or he can also set ground rules for the project, and close observation of any non-verbal communication, such as body language, will reveal if any member of the team is unclear about objectives, roles or rules. At this stage it is easier to avoid ambiguity and confusion by addressing problems and queries quickly, as well as asking specific pertinent questions of the team as a way of checking understanding.
Team members need to be made aware of the communications plan and the schedule. Both documents should be closely adhered to, as deviation will cause confusion and can be to the detriment of the project’s success.
The Project Board needs to be kept informed of progress so that any risks can be assessed or changes taken into account. There should also be regular status reports between the project manager and the client, so that if either side need to institute changes, the potential impact can be assessed and everyone can be made aware of those changes.