Communication is at the very core of successful project delivery and a key project manager responsibility. Here are six ways we can improve on our project communication right now.
Improve, improve, improve. If we are not striving to always improve, we can become complacent. I've seen it happen on projects, on large government programs, and on individual project teams. The end result? Poor performance, project failure – and in the case of a large government program was the nearly loss of a $50 million project. The best thing you can do is stay focused on excellence and project success...and that begins with communication.
What I describe here, is six ways we – as project leaders – can improve the communication on our projects and with our project teams today and in the near future to hopefully lead better projects and delivery more successful and accurate outcomes to our project customers. There are many more ways than these six, so please be thinking about what you'd like to add to this list.
1. Use a collaborative PM tool.
First, pick a project management software tool that is collaborative. One that can share documents and knowledge and allows all team members access to update task progresses and respond to assignments will keep everyone instantly informed and accountable.
2. Create a closed Facebook project team group.
Seriously. Everyone is going to be using it anyway. Why not embrace the most popular social media app the world will ever know for your own selfish professional needs, too. It's free, and does the job.
3. Daily team stand ups.
Whether you're going agile or not, conducting daily quick round table meetings keeps everyone accountable and on their toes. A slacker team member can hide behind weekly progress updates, but not daily updates.
4. Review the weekly status report and schedule together before full distribution.
As the project manager, you go through the status report and revise it for the next project status call with the client. Likewise, you do the same thing with the project schedule. Now, instead of just doing that yourself, involve the entire team a day or two before sending the information to the client for the next call. That way the team is up to date on status, and accountable to know the important things that are happening right now – whether it is something they are working on or not. Communication is instantly improved.
5. Conduct an internal lessons session.
Instead of just meeting with the team to discuss project status, meet with them to discuss performance. What has gone well, what has gone not-so-well, and what could you all be doing different going forward to improve on your project delivery and even to improve on your collaboration as a team?
6. Follow-up group communications and meetings with notes to confirm equal understanding.
Communication has failed if attendees walk out of meetings with different understandings of what was just discussed. It happens...someone arrives late, someone leaves early, someone steps out of the room to take a call, and someone is drooling with their head on their MacBook keyboard. Whatever the reason, in most meetings at least one attendee misses a key piece of information. If you always follow-up with meeting notes and distribute them to attendees, you help eliminate that possibility. Just request that all attendees review the notes and send back any revisions within 24 hours and redistribute. Then, everyone is on the same page.
It's not hard to improve project communication. This list is just a few of the ways that you can do that almost immediately. Communication is Job One for the project manager, effective and efficient project communication needs to be at the top of all key stakeholders' lists in order to help ensure project success.