Whether your next project is a routine endeavor for your organization or it’s the highest profile effort you’ve ever tackled, your communication strategy will play a key role in moving your initiative to a successful completion.
Delivering clear and concise messages is important at every stage in the project lifecycle. Between your internal team members, leadership-level sponsors, end users, and external business partners, there are numerous groups looking to you for information. But even though your communication strategy may be meeting everyone’s basic needs today, there are some simple steps you can take to make your messaging even more valuable.
Begin by moving beyond one-way communications.
Project teams sometimes get into a communication rut. Reporting and other recurring messages often dominate the scene, and the result is a steady stream of communications that go in a single direction—information is distributed out from the project team to stakeholders, but there’s little motivation (or opportunity) for data to come back the other way.
You can nurture a more vigorous communication channel by encouraging multi-directional information flows across all of the functional areas within the team. Give workers in the field an easy way to submit updates on progress and other issues, for example. Provide a process for your team to collaborate on budget and other financial reports with your accounting department, rather than simply submitting figures without any real-time discussion. Let outside collaborators know that you welcome communications from them any time they have scheduling changes or unexpected availability to begin important activities earlier than planned. Finally, solicit feedback from end users throughout the project so you remain in tune with how activities are impacting them.
Show some love for your previous communications.
Project information can change quickly and it’s important to have the most up-to-date data available for stakeholders. However, there’s some information about your initiative that should persist and it’s helpful if you establish a way to give people easy access to both the latest updates and historical information so they can find the data that interests them.
Consider creating an intranet portal or other accessible repository where your stakeholders can review the project’s details at their convenience:
- Current edition of the timeline
- Drawings and schematics
- A record of past meetings and key agenda items for each
- Contact lists for the various areas of responsibility
- Recordings of presentations, area walk-throughs, tutorials, and other useful information
Step outside your planned communication schedule.
Routine reporting is a core element of most project communication strategies, and a reliable cadence of messages ensures stakeholders at all levels have the information they expect. If you want to elevate your communications further, try mixing spontaneous messages in with your scheduled information flows now and then.
Did your team negotiate a fantastic labor rate or score a big discount on an expensive piece of equipment? Share your win and show sponsors that you’re taking advantage of valuable opportunities. Good news also drums up much-needed enthusiasm, so don’t be shy about tooting your own horn once in a while.
Has an unanticipated window of opportunity opened up to consolidate activities or accomplish tasks early? Alert those who might be able to take advantage of this situation so they can adjust their plans and keep you moving towards your key milestones. Don’t wait to pass along important updates, whether they’re good news or updates on how you’re managing risks and other challenges. A blend of routine and spontaneous communications enables you to keep in touch with stakeholders in a more natural way, and it also encourages ongoing participation from everyone involved in and affected by the project.