Project management teams work hard to be transparent in their actions. They’re well aware that stakeholders and the executive team are watching each project, and sometimes outside partners and even the public may also be observing. This transparency occasionally encounters challenges but there are sure fire strategies Project Teams can use to stay on track and maintain clarity in every task, recommendation and decision they undertake.
Communication. This is by far the most powerful tool the Project Team has at its disposal when it comes to maintaining transparency. Communicating with stakeholders is crucial, whether it’s disseminating the schedule for work disruptions or providing an update on material availability. But communications need to be a two-way street. Stakeholders must have a way to ask questions, express concerns, and request additional information.
To streamline communications coming into the Project Team, it’s often a good idea to provide a clear mechanism for submitting inquiries. In addition, the team must respond to questions as quickly as is feasible. If the information stakeholders want isn’t available or can’t be released due to confidentiality concerns, say so. It’s better to divulge what you can than to plant suspicion or mistrust in stakeholders’ minds.
Consistency. Assuring stakeholders that your team is transparent in its actions becomes nearly impossible if your team isn’t consistent in its communications and other messaging. Though this may happen innocently enough, such as when updated information hasn’t yet been relayed to all members of the team, the damage it’s likely to inflict on the group will be difficult to repair.
One good strategy to avoid inadvertent inconsistencies or miscommunications is to designate a few key team members to handle distributing information and routing any questions that come through to others in the group. It may also be prudent to have someone in this capacity review materials—graphics, charts, drawings, etc.—prior to release outside the Project Team. This helps to bring the entire range of communications under the same messaging umbrella and also adds another layer of scrutiny for any dates, budget numbers, or other data that may still be tentative or in flux.
Data. In many instances, the data your team uses to make strategic decisions and guide its planning efforts will be key in allaying stakeholders’ doubts and concerns. Everyone from the leadership group to end users wants to know that actions (especially those they may not agree with) are based on sense and reason.
The solution is to make as much information available for review as possible, so others outside the project management team are able to scrutinize—and hopefully understand—why the datasets support the Project Team’s conclusions and recommendations. Remember to provide sources for your information, too. If data is coming from outside the organization, denote this for context.
Determination. No, this isn’t resistance to change or a hesitancy to allow those outside the Project Team to participate as true partners. Instead, it refers to the need for the Project Team to push back against the external pressure that may be aimed at influencing how decisions are made, schedules developed, budgets created, or priorities set. There are often stakeholders—some who hold authorization power over resources the project team requires—who would like to see their needs at the top of the priority list.
Adherence to best practices and a proven planning and control methodology is the best way to resist this kind of potentially destructive pressure. Good project management protocols will keep the team from compromising its efforts or agreeing to compress or skip critical steps. They’re also instrumental in guiding the team on decisions related to where activities can reasonably be compressed or modified.
Project management training tips provided by PMAlliance Inc.