Every individual in a team contributes to the progress of the project. The Project Manager is responsible for organizing their efforts. Communication is key to organization and coordination, which involves gathering and disseminating information depending on several factors. The absence of communication might result in redundancy, misunderstanding, misallocation, or impractical expectations. Let’s understand the importance of communication in project management.
What Is Communication in Project Management?
Communication is exchanging information, ideas, and suggestions resulting in effective and efficient projects. It is a method for conveying the desired results from project members and the expectations of their seniors and the organization. Communication aids in the judgment of the capability of team members and the planning and workflow designed by Project Managers and seniors.
Why Is Communication in Project Management Important?
Effective communication with wisely chosen words holds the potential to achieve milestones, while ineffective one may yield poor results deteriorating the quality. The latter might occur due to the presence of resources with diverse skill sets and requirements in a project. The inability to indicate the requirements or the inability of team members to grasp the needs will provide undesired results leading to discrepancy and failure of the whole project and team.
Types of Communication in Project Management
The highly preferred communication type is verbal and written communication due to the transparency and reliability of the method. The clarity removes uncertainty and further leads to appropriate actions. The significance of favored communications is described further.
Gathering intellectuals with ideas and deciding powers brings valid points worthy of argumentation to the table. Such effective communication is a better method for reaching a conclusion or decision regarding new ideas, projects, or problems faced during the projects.
Email is another official source of communication in project management that is completely reliable. It can be used in both formal and informal information segregation and is a preferred source due to ease of access, immediate outreach irrespective of geographical boundaries, and the facility to attach proper and innumerable references per the requirements.
Phone calls bring more clarity to the topics over written emails due to the spontaneous exchange of words. Leading the individuals directly to the point conversation also provides the facility of conferencing, which can be synonymously used in place of meetings. However, lacking face-to-face communication might not be completely reliable. Absence of reference materials while discussion often leads to misunderstanding.
Discussion boards or group chats are a great platform for interaction with seniors, team leads, and their members. Providing the opportunity to understand each other's talents, attitudes towards work, and dedication, discussion boards help exchange information and allow bonding among participating individuals. In addition, the collaboration and assistance in the discussion board aid in problem-solving, decision-making, and understanding of the hidden skills of members.
Based on non-verbal communication, surveys aim to accumulate information on public opinion on certain issues or topics. Then, taking the opinion by various methods, the organization uses the data for better insights to resolve problems or suggest a new idea based on current trends and needs. Being completely anonymous, they are also used within the organization for a fair decision regarding the project or people.
The utilization of technology such as presentation provides detailed insights into productivity and efficiency with a clear indication of points needing improvements. The method leaves room for suggestions and questions that bring more clarity to ideas and opinions. Ease of sharing and communication, irrespective of the mode, makes it a highly utilized mode of communication.
Memos are utilized for very short communications, generally regarding updated information. Communicated via email or offline on a slip, they provide highly concise points directing the targeted individuals for a task.
The organization's principal document is the project plan, which acts as a guide to carry out the project. They provide direction and require regular updates for reliability. In addition, project plans carry detailed information on objectives, workflow, and resources, including human and material resources.
How to Ensure Effective Communication in Project Management?
Effective communication begins with project planning and ends with efficient communication and planning accordingly.
1. Plan for the Project
The involvement and communication of participating individuals provide:
- A platform for diverse ideas
- A sense of involvement
- A better understanding of the capability
Performing this from the beginning, which is from the project's planning phase, is a method of effective communication. The details and discussion for steps of each method can be decided through it.
2. Establish a Communication Method
Once the duties have been assigned, the communication method must also be designed. Multiple communication modes help divide the channels based on types of information. For example, group chats and written communication are effective for discussion, interaction, and dissemination of information. Meetings and phone calls are great for detailed or very short technical interactions.
3. Share Project Goals
Updating the latest project goals based on previous achievements makes the objectives lucid. Moreover, it makes an effective mode of communication as it provides room for suggestions to provide more time-efficient methods by team members.
4. Listen to Your Team.
The team members are in direct contact with the problems faced and can show the best analytical and problem-solving skills. Thus listening to them is an important part of communication. Being heard and their suggestions accepted encourages the members to provide more such resolutions easing the task and helping the progress.
5. Keep Everyone Updated
Regular updates are significant in effective progress and saving human resources time and hard work. An update on any methods, procedures, policies, risks, and problems is crucial. In addition, it aids in involvement, thus making each responsible rather than playing blame games.
6. Monitor Employee Performance
This helps comprehend the problems faced by employees. Through communication, the problems can be sorted, or responsibility can be transferred to members with different skill sets. Communication, in this sense, increases the dedication of team members and assists managers in deciding new suitable roles based on the talents of each member. The cause of the inability to achieve the target may also be analyzed, and the lack of communication can be further rectified in this way.
Benefits of a Project Management Communication Plan
The project management communication plan holds a strategy for communication. The easy implementation and trust build-up are some benefits with others listed.
1. It Helps Your Team Set Clear Expectations
The clear indications of handled responsibilities make the person accountable. The person understands the expectations and has to respond with the proceedings according to them. Prior communication of inability in such a scenario can be helpful by reallocating the responsibility while not hampering the work status. Authorities can make fair decisions based on the assigned and completed responsibilities.
2. It Streamlines Project Planning
The communication plan will be accountable for proper completion, update of status and requirements, and progress of the project. Furthermore, the specific information on time will leave no room for unnecessary follow-ups and meetings, which ends up a waste of time (practically seen in most organizations).
3. It Enhances Communication With Clients and Stakeholders
An effective communication plan is required to provide updates to clients and stakeholders. They need short, precise, and accurate follow-ups in concise meetings rather than small details. So a communication plan should include the details designed as per their relevance and communicate it to them through a meeting with a responsible and accountable person to answer each of their queries.
4. It Creates a Document Your Team Can Always Reference
A reliable and official source of information to resolve conflicts. With each specified task and details on the flow of work and responsibilities of individuals, it can be used as a reference for misguided members and participating individuals.
How to Create a Project Management Communication Plan?
The strategy for creating a project management communication plan can be devised in five steps.
Step 1: Set Out With a Defined Goal(s)
While not going into detail, defined goal(s) need to be set for communication. The goals must state what needs to be communicated to whom in general terms. It may also include the reason for communication for ease of understanding. Some examples can be: introducing communication channels to participants in the project, notifying stakeholders regarding issues and plan change, and informing the client about benefits from their perspective.
Step 2: Choose a Format That Assists in Visualizing the Plan
Presentation is a part of communication and needs to be devised very carefully as it may change the complete meaning of the information portrayed. Division and assignment of goals can be completely sentence-based. Still, the inclusion of visuals in the form of timelines, charts, like Gantt charts, and Kanban boards indicating each individual's share eases the task load on everyone. The equal and rightful division will make individuals feel capable and correctly utilize their skills.
Step 3: Add Your Timeline, Channels, Roles, and Any Other Important Details
After deciding the goals and visuals of representation, start adding specific details to the communication plan. The format must include key details with headings such as who needs to be updated and the quality and frequency of updates. Also, decide who will update and its regularity based on the category of targets like members, stakeholders, and method of update.
The method of updating is crucial to convey the message. Being aware of which participant(team members, stakeholders) is active on what platform(group chat, emails) will ensure direct communication. Similarly, the mode of communication decides the meeting platform, which needs to be devised beforehand. For instance, project members present their meetings and share control while stakeholders only listen and provide suggestions. Thus, the platform has to be decided accordingly.
Step 4: Communicate With Your Stakeholders
The single project might involve different stakeholders, requiring specific information based on their preferences. Based on the expertise level, frequency of updates needed, and preferred communication channel of each, the communication must be established.
Step 5: Share Your Communication Plan With the Full Team
Share the communication plan to inform each individual on what and how frequently they should expect the updates, along with holding them accountable to respond with necessary details. Make sure to welcome feedback for flexibility and efficiency of communication.
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