By Goke Ilesanmi
Project management is the process of guiding a project from its beginning through its performance to its closure. It includes three basic operations such as planning, organising and controlling. Performing these activities successfully requires information, communication and commitment. The job of a project manager is very taxing (not “tasking”, please). The project manager coordinates technically specialised professionals to achieve a common goal. In spite of his or her own work experience, his or her ability to identify and resolve sensitive organisational and interpersonal issues will go a long way in determining his or her success.
Successful organisations create projects that produce desired results in established time frames with assigned resources. As a result, businesses are increasingly driven to find individuals who can excel in this project-oriented environment. All projects begin with an idea and when an idea is conceived, your project has entered the conception stage. Though project management tends to be process-driven and unexciting, it is where results happen, and therefore project information needs to be professionally managed as part of that process. Consequently, we need to communicate effectively about (1) our own communication plans and to work on (2) communicating effectively about operational projects.
Communication is very critical to coordinating as well as keeping team members and stakeholders informed to be able to realise the objectives of a project. In short, many projects are unsuccessful as a result of lack of a communication plan. It is surprising that in spite of this reality, many project managers do not see the need to communicate the process of their projects. This is worsened by the project management literature, which often places communication down the priority list.
A typical project management framework has three main stages, that is, Project Proposal, Project Management and Project Completion. Often, communication is not accorded prominence in stages 1 and 2 while it may even be left out in the third stage where the sale of the project completion to stakeholders should be happening. To have a successful project management, communication needs to be formally planned and deployed at almost every one of the many stages and their sections.
One of the difficulties with projects is that team members communicate information to others and they tend to assume that everyone involved in the project has that information as well. Therefore, project communication should be planned to ensure all the relevant people are carried along. When a project starts, the project manager should plan the communication activities that are needed. Usually the project manager decides what to send customers. The problem with this is that the project manager may not have consulted with the customers to find out the communication they want in terms of content and timing. In view of this, the project manager should meet with the customers to agree on the content and timing of reporting. This will enable him or her to develop a communication plan that can be sent to all stakeholders (e.g., customers, team members and senior management), containing the agreed information and the channels and timing that will apply.
Having met with the project customers, the project manager can meet with the project team members and other stakeholders to discuss communication planning. The meeting can be used for (1) developing a matrix of the communication requirements of the project and (2) a matrix of the project roles of the relevant people and the various reports they should receive.
Agenda for first team-meeting
All project meetings should have a written agenda prepared by the project manager. The agenda can be written on a PowerPoint slide and kept on a screen visible to the team. If there is no written agenda, the meeting will definitely lose focus and structure, and is certain to waste time. When the team members meet together for the first time, the project manager should break the ice by introducing him- or herself with a little background information on his or her credentials and experience. All the other people should be asked to do the same.
Kim Harrison, a public relations expert says a sample agenda for the first meeting of the group is: Introductions; Meeting purpose and goals; Development of communication requirements matrix; Development of roles report matrix; Communication tools selection; Development of communication plan; Meeting deadline, if needed; and Next meeting. Harrison educates that for the development of a matrix of the communication requirements of different stakeholders, on the vertical axis, write the name or job title of the person, and then along the horizontal axis write down the names of the same people.
For the development of a matrix of the various reports stakeholders and project team members should receive, you just note down on the vertical axis the name of each person. Then on the horizontal axis write the names of the several reports. For instance, some reports may be prepared on demand for key stakeholders; other reports would be prepared daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. It is a simple matter to check the respective boxes for each stakeholder and note the content that should be contained in each report for that person.
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GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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