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Communication management

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Software Project Communication Managment

Software Project Communication Managment

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  • 1. Project Communications Management Mohammad A. Rob
  • 2. Importance of Good Communications The greatest threat to many projects is a failure to communicate Our culture does not portray IT professionals as being good communicators Research shows that IT professionals must be able to communicate effectively to succeed in their positions Strong verbal skills are a key factor in career advancement for IT professionals
  • 3. What is Project Communications Management? The goal of project communications management is to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and disposition of project information It provides the critical links among people, ideas, and information that are necessary for success Everyone involved in the project must understand how the communications in which they are involved can affect the project as a whole
  • 4. Project Communications Management Processes Communications planning: determining the information and communications needs of the stakeholders Information distribution: making needed information available in a timely manner Performance reporting: collecting and disseminating performance information Administrative closure: generating, gathering, and disseminating information to formalize phase or project completion
  • 5. Communications Planning  Communication planning involves determining the information and communication needs of the stakeholders, when they will need it, how it will be given to them, and by whom  The main input to this process is communication requirements, which includes information such as: – project organization and stakeholder responsibility relationship – disciplines, departments, and specialties involved in the project – number of people involved and their location  The main tool for this process is a stakeholder analysis for project communications  The main output is a communications management plan - a document that guides project communications
  • 6. Communications Management Plan  A description of a collection and filing structure for gathering and storing various types of information - organizing documents  A distribution structure describing what information goes to whom, when, and how. Do executives receive different formats of status report?  A format for communicating key project information. Is there a template for preparing status report? Hard copy or e-mail?  A project schedule for producing the information. Do stakeholders know when to expect status report?  Access methods for obtaining the information - who can see what documents, what information is online, etc.  A method for updating the communications management plans as the project progresses and develops. Who will update?  A stakeholder communications analysis. What kinds of information will be distributed to which stakeholder?
  • 7. Sample Stakeholder Analysis for Project Communications Stakeholders Document Name Document Format Contact Person Due Customer Management Monthly Status Report Hard copy Gail Feldman, Tony Silva First of month Customer Business Staff Monthly Status Report Hard copy Julie Grant, First of month Customer Technical Staff Monthly Status Report E-mail Internal Management Monthly Status Report Hard copy Bob Thomson First of month Internal Business and Technical Staff Monthly Status Report Intranet Angie Liu First of month Training Subcontractor Training Plan Hard Copy Jonathan Kraus 11/1/1999 Software Subcontractor Software Implementation Plan E-mail Barbara Gates 6/1/2000 Jeff Martin Evan Dodge, First of month Nancy Michaels
  • 8. Information Distribution  Information distribution involves making needed information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner  The inputs to this process include work results, project plan, and communication management plan  Tools and techniques include: – communication skills (oral, written, formal, informal, etc.) – information retrieval systems (drawing, presentation, test plan) – information distribution method (hardcopy, e-mail, intranet, etc.)  The outputs include: – project records (correspondence, memos, documents - all organized – project reports (formal project reports on status an/or issues) – project presentations (formal or informal, and per audience)
  • 9. Information Distribution  Important considerations for information distribution: – using technology such as e-mails, telephones, Web. Intranet can be used to make available form templates, project documents (design, schedule, etc.) – Formal method of information distribution: includes a PowerPoint presentation or a status report. – Informal method of information distribution: includes a discussion over a cup of coffee – sending e-mails often to a large number people normally have adverse effect on a project, creating a complexity in communication – e-mail is also not a good communication mechanism for expressing ones feeling
  • 10. The Impact of the Number of People on Communications Channels  An important aspect of information distribution is the number of people involved in a project  As the number of people involved increases, the complexity of communication also increases  Number of communication channel increases with the increasing number of people  A simple formula to calculate the number of communication channel is: – number of communication channel = n(n-1)/2 – where n is the number of people  Thus two people will have one communication channel, but four people will have six channels  Thus, large projects need to break into smaller parts
  • 11. The Impact of the Number of People on Communications Channels
  • 12. Performance Reporting  Reporting keeps stakeholders informed about how resources are being used to achieve project objectives – Status reports describe where the project stands at a specific point in time. It addresses where project stands in terms of meeting scope, time, and cost. How long did it take to complete a task? – Progress reports describe what the project team has accomplished during a certain period of time. Team members often submit weekly or monthly reports and tem leader consolidates those reports for upper management – Project forecasting predicts future project status and progress based on past information and trends. How long it will take to complete a task based on the past performance – Status review meetings are used to have face-to-face discussion, exchange project information, motivate people, and empower people to be accountable for their work. It can be a battleground to explode conflicts between team members
  • 13. Administrative Closure  A project or phase of a project requires closure  Administrative closure consists of verifying and documenting project results  It also allows time to collect project records, ensure that the records reflect final specification, analyze project effectiveness, and archive information for future use  The main outputs of administrative closure are: – project archives: A complete set of organized project records that provide an accurate history of the project – formal acceptance: a document that the project sponsor and/or customer signs to show that they have accepted the project’s product – lessons learned: statements written by project managers and team members about new experiences through the project
  • 14. Administrative Closure  Project archives often become handy many years after completion of the project. When is system is upgraded, it is important to look at the design of the system  Formal acceptance helps to end the project and avoids dragging out project termination  In a contract situation, the buyer must legally accept the products, so the seller can receive payment.  The project team members should prepare a lesson learned report that should contain items such as causes of variances (in scope, time, cost), reasoning behind corrective actions taken, new tools and techniques used, and personal wisdom based on the team members’ experiences
  • 15. Suggestions for Improving Project Communications Good communication is vital to the management and success of a project Applying few methodologies can improve communication. They are: – Resolve conflicts effectively – Develop better communication skills – Run effective meetings – Use templates for project communications
  • 16. Conflict Handling Modes  Project issues such as schedule, priorities, staffing, technical matters, administrative procedures, personalities, and cost - all contribute to conflicts  When the stakes (salary, prestige) are high, conflicts arise; when the potential for conflict is high, good communication is necessary  There are five basic modes of conflict resolution: – Confrontation: directly face a conflict and allow the parties to work together to resolve the problem – Compromise: use a give-and-take approach – Smoothing: de-emphasize areas of differences and emphasize areas of agreement – Forcing: exert a viewpoint over another – Withdrawal: retreat or withdraw from an actual or potential disagreement. It is least effective
  • 17. Developing Better Communication Skills  Most information technology professional enter the field because of their technical skills, however, most find that communication skills are the key to advancing their career  Most companies spend a lot of money for technical training, some other do for both technical and communication skills  Senior management needs to have high standards for presentations, reporting, and behavior towards others  Allocation of time for report or presentation preparation, meeting with customers, and assisting when necessary, are important  Communication can be improved through proper planning, support, and leadership form management
  • 18. Running Effective Meetings  A well-run meeting can be a vehicle for fostering team building and reinforcing expectations, roles, relationships, and commitment to the project.  A poorly run meeting can have a detrimental effect on a project  Some guidelines for improving meetings: – – – – – Define the purpose and intended outcome of the meeting Determine who should attend the meeting Provide an agenda to participants before meeting Prepare handouts, visual aids, and logistics Run meetings professionally: have ground rules, control time, encourage participation, summarize key issues, clarify decisions and actions, and have minutes takes – Make meetings fun with some activities – Avoid meetings when not necessary
  • 19. Use Templates: Sample Template for a Monthly Progress Report I. Accomplishments for Month of January (or appropriate month): • Describe most important accomplishments. Relate to project's Gantt chart • Describe other important accomplishments, one bullet for each. If any issues were resolved from the previous month, list them as accomplishments. II. Plans for February (or following month): • Describe most important items to be accomplished in the next month. Again relate to the project's Gantt chart. • Describe other important items to accomplish, one bullet for each III. Issues: Briefly list important issues that surfaced or are still important. Managers hate surprises and want to help the project succeed, so be sure to list issues. IV. Project Changes (Date and Description): List any approved or requested changes to the project. Include the date of the change and a brief description.
  • 20. Outline for a Final Project Report I. Cover page II. Table of contents and executive summary (for a long report) III. Need for the project IV. Project description and letter of agreement V. Overall outcome of the project and reasons for success or failure VI. Project management tools and techniques used and assessment of them VII. Project team recommendations and future considerations VIII. Final project Gantt chart IX. Attachments with all deliverables
  • 21. Outline of a Final Project Documentation I. Project description II. Project proposal and backup data (request for proposal, statement of work, proposal correspondence, and so on) III. Original and revised contract information and client acceptance documents IV. Original and revised project plans and schedules (WBS, Gantt and PERT charts, cost estimates, communications management plan, etc.) V. Design documents VI. Final project report VII. Deliverables, as appropriate VIII. Audit reports IX. Lessons learned reports X. Copies of all status reports, meeting minutes, change notices, and other written and electronic communications
  • 22. Developing a Communications Infrastructure  A communications infrastructure is a set of tools, techniques, and principles that provide a foundation for the effective transfer of information – Tools include e-mail, project management software, groupware, fax machines, telephones, teleconferencing systems, document management systems, and word processors – Techniques include reporting guidelines and templates, meeting ground rules and procedures, decision-making processes, problem-solving approaches, and conflict resolution and negotiation techniques – Principles include using open dialog and an agreed upon work ethic
  • 23. Using Software to Assist in Project Communications  One of the biggest problems on large projects is providing most recent project plans, Gantt charts, specifications, meeting information, change requests, and so on to all or selected stakeholders  There are many software tools to aid in project communications  Microsoft Project Central is a companion product of Microsoft Project, which helps facilitate collaboration and communication between project stakeholder over the Intranet