Strong communication flows are key to successful project execution. Ensuring those channels remain open and vibrant is a difficult task, requiring ongoing care and attention. A handful of myths can sometimes stand in the way of those efforts, as project teams fall into the trap of incorrect assumptions and lack of information.
See if your project office has been taken in by any of these age-old communication myths. For those teams experiencing decreased efficiency or sagging stakeholder satisfaction as a result of a communication glitch, consider if one of these potential solutions might address your issue.
1 – Executives read the updates provided by the project team. Ensuring the leadership group is aware of the project’s progress consumes a fair amount of effort for many PMP®s. Unfortunately, without framing the information that’s being passed along, the executives could still feel they’re in the dark. Updates could also arrive when the executives are out of town or during a time when they’re focused on other initiatives. Either way, incoming communications could quickly be buried under a pile of newer information.
Solution: Consider offering status updates in an on-demand format, where the execs can access the very latest data when it suits them. They’ll be more likely to review (and absorb) the information and they’ll also be more apt to actively engage with it by asking questions or forwarding key points to other high-level stakeholders. On-demand updates don’t need to replace the periodic updates project teams often send out—the two methods complement each other well.
2 – Sponsors always share project-related news. The role sponsors play—bringing critical funding, support, and other resources—is sometimes the difference between whether a project gets the go-ahead or stays on the wish list. Their influence remains important once the project is under way, such as when they secure the cooperation of other departments. But when developments occur within the organization that could affect the project, those same sponsors may not pass the news along right away (or at all).
Solution: The most common reason sponsors don’t share project-related news is because they simply don’t realize that high-level changes have the potential to impact the project. Provide them with the perspective they need by ensuring they are aware of critical-path activities and what type of environment is necessary for the project to succeed. If market conditions, manufacturing schedules, regulatory pressures, or other top-tier issues could change the landscape enough to affect the project, let sponsors know so they can be on the lookout for harbingers of trouble.
3 – End users always ask the right questions. End users often don’t know what project information might be helpful to them The process may not be familiar to them and rarely are they involved in establishing parameters or developing schedules. During project meetings, end users are likely to focus on events happening right now or on those activities highlighted in the Project Team’s latest communication. It may not occur to them to raise questions about future events or to discuss where they see potential issues.
Solution: Because end users don’t always know what events are coming next, PMP®s should try to focus on project stages that are far enough in the future to allow ample time to address “last minute” concerns or questions. Also, be sure to communicate as much detail as possible with end users, even about activities that don’t impact them directly. This encourages stakeholders to consider the project’s scope in broader terms and also gives them an opportunity to ask questions that may not have come up if the team focused only on narrow issues.