Good communication without doubt is one of the most important project manager skills that you can have. With one survey suggesting that productivity improves by 20-25% with connected employees the statistics certainly back this up!
But good communication is more than just sporadically picking up the phone to your remote workforce or arranging another team meeting with no clear focus. You need to have a plan. One that details exactly what needs to be communicated, by who and by when. This is perhaps unsurprisingly, called a project communication plan.
Why do I need a project communication plan?
It’s not easy keeping on top of all your communications. If you were asked now to list all of these off the top of your head, would you be able to do it? I would guess not.
Even if you did manage to, (well done by the way,) what happens when your stakeholders and team members start going on annual leave, take sick leave or move onto a different project? With every change, it becomes harder to keep track of who should be doing what and who is the new point of contact.
There is also the economic impact to consider. The PMI, (Project Management Institute,) have stated that 56% of money spent on a project is at risk due to ineffective communications. A definite recipe for project failure.
That’s why putting together a detailed plan is so important. Here are some of the questions you will need to ask yourself.
What needs to be shared?
Sounds obvious, right? However, it is not enough to just know generally what information you should share.
You need to be specific. Each stakeholder group have different priorities and therefore must be supplied with only the details that they are interested in.
For example, your high-level executives will be particularly interested in the ROI on your project. But providing this information to your team is not likely to resonate, as they will probably be more interested in the status of the project.
Takeaway: List all of your different stakeholder groups that need to be informed and note for each one the information that they need to know.
How often should it be shared?
Now you know the information that needs to be shared and who to, you now need to decide who is responsible for each communication and its frequency.
Have you ever felt like you are bombarded with unnecessary daily meeting requests? Or not been given enough opportunities to provide important feedback about your project? I think we have all been there!
It is important to get the right balance between giving too frequent feedback and not enough. More importantly, you must provide each stakeholder group with the appropriate amount of communication that THEY need. For example, you might have weekly meetings with your team to review the status of your project, but have monthly status report meetings with higher management.
Takeaway: Look at your stakeholders and consider how often you think they need to be informed about the status of your project.
How will it be communicated?
I know what you’re thinking – email. With an average interaction worker spending an estimated 20% of their workweek managing their emails, that is certainly the most common method alongside meetings.
Things are changing however. Project management software is quickly becoming essential for managing small and large projects alike. In fact, two-thirds of companies are communicating with clients using project management software.
But why are companies choosing to use this software? Some reasons include:
- Simple and secure file sharing – Share files in a secure online repository and allow members to add to or comment on the same document. No more multiple versions of documents!
- Collaborate anytime, anywhere – You don’t need to wait for the next scheduled meeting to make comments or changes. Internal and external stakeholders alike can log in and collaborate from any browser equipped device, anywhere in the world.
- Security – The leading software vendors are security tested to government standards so you can guarantee that all your information is secure at all times.
- Easy task management – See in one place what tasks your team members are working on. You can also assign them tasks, set reminders and deadlines to ensure they stay on track.
Takeaway: Conduct research and find the right software for your project. To help you, read our guide to finding the best collaboration software for your business.