Improving IT Project Communication


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Topic tutorial providing IT Project managers and related IT practitioners with guidance related to improving IT project communicatios.

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  • Improving IT Project Communication

    1. 1. Topic Tutorial on Improving Project Communication ARSHAD RIZVI
    2. 2. Topic Tutorial Outline <ul><li>Introduction to Project Communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for Poor Project Communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences of Poor Project Communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Steps to Improve Project Communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Introduction to Project Communication <ul><li>Project communication is the exchange of project-specific information. Effective communication creates understanding of the information given and received. </li></ul><ul><li>Project communication differs from general communication in that it centers on the Work Breakdown Structure (, February 2003). </li></ul><ul><li>Project Communication and information flow within IT projects is crucial to the technical progress and productive working relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>The overriding criterion for effective project communication includes information flow that can be achieved through methods, which are easy to use but highly effective and ubiquitous. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Introduction to Project Communication <ul><li>Proactive communication is important on all projects. The project manager must make sure that team members, customers, and stakeholders have the information they need to do their jobs. </li></ul><ul><li>Communication is also a vital way to manage expectations about how the project is going and who needs to be doing what. This can be as simple as talking to your team members about how they are doing on their assigned work or holding a regularly scheduled status meeting. </li></ul><ul><li>Project management and project communication are becoming more complex as multi-location project execution is coming into the picture. The challenge multiplies if it involves working with vendors. Having vendors globally can make it even more complex (Malladi, April 2007). </li></ul>
    5. 5. Introduction to Project Communication The importance of Project Communication is reiterated by the presence of Communication Management as one of the knowledge areas in the PMBOK. Communication Management describes the processes involved in generating, collecting, disseminating, storing and final delivery of the project information, in a timely and adequate manner (, nd).
    6. 6. Reasons for Poor Project Communication in Project Teams. <ul><li>As the project progresses, open and honest communication between the project managers and the project team and other stakeholders is critical. Communication must occur daily or weekly, and when teams are geographically dispersed, requires onsite meetings on a regular basis to ascertain true status. When such project communication is missing mainly due to the lack of a project communication management plan, it creates significant project risks. </li></ul><ul><li>The management style of a project manager has a major impact on project communication within a team. For example, the authoritarian and coercive management style of a project manager can create a barrier that prevents open channels of communication within the project team. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Reasons for Poor Project Communication in Project Teams. <ul><li>The inability of IT project managers to talk about technology in business terms. Such lack of business perspective often leads to poor project communication between the project managers and the key project stakeholders on the business side. </li></ul><ul><li>Project managers who are poor communicators can result in miserable project experience and low morale for everyone on the team. Project teams with a low morale often tend to have poor communication channels (Mochal, October 2002). </li></ul><ul><li>When the team members each have a different views on how things are supposed to work, it results in misaligned expectations . Most often it is over roles, responsibilities and authority. Such misaligned expectations have a negative impact on project communications. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Reasons for Poor Project Communication in Project Teams <ul><li>Other reasons for poor project communication include loss of project momentum, lack of commitment among the key stakeholders and the project team, dissatisfaction and unconscious incompetence within the project staff. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Consequences of Poor Project Communication <ul><li>Communications failures top the list of reasons IT projects fail, according to poll results from the Computing Technology Industry Association. About 28% of 1,000 respondents identified poor communications as the main cause of project failure, according to CompTIA (Jones, InformationWeek, March 2007). </li></ul><ul><li>Failing to initiate ‘crucial conversations’ may be the single biggest cause of project failure, according to preliminary findings of a study on project management. The study, conducted by training firm Vital Smarts found that the inability of project managers to talk to people about five often-occurring negative situations (, nd): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Setting arbitrary deadlines and inadequate resources that “set up a project to fail”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failing to provide the necessary leadership, political clout or energy for a project. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skirting or manipulating the project priority-setting process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An unwillingness by team members to support projects as required. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failing to acknowledge project problems until it’s too late for remedial action. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Steps to Improve Project Communication <ul><li>What is Communications Planning? </li></ul><ul><li>In IT projects, all communication should take place in the context of an overall communications strategy and plan. </li></ul><ul><li>Determining the information and communications needs of stakeholders: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who needs information? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What information do they need? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When will they need that information? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What options do you have to give them the information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and which way(s) are best? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Developing a structured Communication Management Plan as part of the overall Communication Planning effort is essential to ensure the information and communication needs of the stakeholders are adequately addressed. </li></ul>Communication Planning
    11. 11. Steps to Improve Project Communication <ul><li>Project Communication management is one of the essential functions that can dramatically affect the outcome of a project. </li></ul><ul><li>Project managers must create and effectively use a communication management plan that performs two principle functions: collect the right data and disseminate appropriate information in a timely manner. </li></ul><ul><li>To do this effectively, it is required to identify the appropriate audiences, develop appropriate communication media, establish a communication schedule, and manage the flow of information in and out of the project team. </li></ul><ul><li>Preparing the project communication management plan assists the project team in identifying internal and external stakeholders and enhances communication among all parties involved in the project. </li></ul><ul><li>The project team writes a communication plan to ensure that an effective communication strategy is built into the project delivery process. </li></ul><ul><li>The plan is a framework and should be a living, evolving document that can be revised when appropriate. The communication plan is part of the project management plan. </li></ul>Using a Communication Management Plan
    12. 12. <ul><li>Communication Management Plan: addresses how the project ensures timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and disposition of project information (Brimberry, nd). </li></ul><ul><li>Includes: Descriptions of how project stakeholder communications requirements will be/were determined and met, including its planning methodology, assumptions and decisions. Special attention should be given to earned value management (EVM) as an integrating practice and technique for project control and performance reporting. </li></ul><ul><li>Major Artifacts: Based on a stakeholders’ needs analysis, the major artifacts are the </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Control Data & Reporting Requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performance Reporting Specifications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communications Management Plan. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Management Processes , include 1) communication planning, 2) information distribution, 3) performance reporting, and 4) managing stakeholders. </li></ul>Steps to Improve Project Communication Using a Communication Management Plan
    13. 13. <ul><li>Output: </li></ul><ul><li>A comprehensive Communication Plan to support the entire project management process. </li></ul><ul><li>Champion </li></ul><ul><li>Team </li></ul><ul><li>Customer </li></ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Change </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons </li></ul><ul><li>Learned </li></ul><ul><li>Daily </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly </li></ul><ul><li>Approval </li></ul><ul><li>Presentations </li></ul><ul><li>Meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Reports </li></ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul><ul><li>Blog/Wiki </li></ul><ul><li>Leader </li></ul><ul><li>Champion </li></ul><ul><li>Process Owner </li></ul>Steps to Improve Project Communication Developing a Communications Management Plan Stakeholder/Audience Information Needed Frequency Medium/ Channel Who Delivers The Message
    14. 14. Steps to Improve Project Communication Status reporting as part of a Communications Management Plan Who Reports? To Whom? When? Level of Detail Format? Core Project Team Project Manager Weekly Detailed Meetings via Verbal; + Written reports & e-mails Project Manager Sponsor Monthly Summary Project Status Report Monthly Meeting Sponsor Senior Management As needed Highlights Verbal
    15. 15. <ul><li>A project manager can utilize the following to improve project communication within a project team and with project stakeholders: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication (written and oral) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negotiation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict resolution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mentoring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coaching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewing skills </li></ul></ul>Steps to Improve Project Communication Dealing Effectively with Project Team and stakeholders
    16. 16. <ul><li>Project Communication is critical at levels of all project management. Communication needs to be on different levels such as formal and informal with stakeholders and within the project team. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to ensure that project communication is controlled a communication management plan should be produced at the start of the project as part of the project plan. This communication management plan should identify who needs what information, when they will need it and in what form it will be given to them. </li></ul><ul><li>The communication management should include the collection and filing structure, reporting structure and the frequency of reporting. This ensures that all parties know what information they are due to receive during the project. </li></ul><ul><li>A project manager can also utilize other attributes like conflict resolution to improve project communication within the project team and with the stakeholders. </li></ul>Conclusion
    17. 17. References <ul><li>, “Project Communication Handbook”, (February 2003). Retrieved on May 17, 2007 from . </li></ul><ul><li>Malladi Suresh, “Fostering Project Communication – is about planning, process and people!”, (April 2007). Retrieved on May 17, 2007 from . </li></ul><ul><li>Mochal Tom, “Turning around a dysfunctional project team”, (October 2002). Retrieved on May 18, 2007 from . </li></ul><ul><li>Jones K.C, “Poor Communications, Unrealistic Scheduling Lead to IT Project failure”, (March 2007). Retrieved on May 18, 2007 from . </li></ul><ul><li>, “Poor Communication is Killing Projects”, (nd). Retrieved on May 18, 2007 from . </li></ul>
    18. 18. References <ul><li>Brimberry Will, “The Project Plan”, (nd). Retrieved on May 19, 2007 from </li></ul><ul><li>, “Project Management Body of Knowledge”, (nd). Retrieved on May 19, 2007 from </li></ul>