Project Communications

Project communications are perhaps the single most important aspect of your project management plan. It is also one of the most overlooked from a planning perspective. This could be because project managers have a tendency to think they know what to communicate to whom and when. The truth is, communication is something that has to be talked about and planned in advance.

The PMBoK Guide – Fourth Edition (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) breaks communications management down into five sub categories:

  1. Identify Stakeholders: Identify all people and organinzations that will be impacted by the project as well as their specific involvement and impact on project success
  2. Plan Communications: Determine what each person or group actually needs to be made aware of and in what form. For example, you will perhaps send daily detailed communications to the project team via electronic communciations, but only a weekly wrap up via staff meeting to a project sponsor or executives
  3. Distribute Information: This means that you actually do what you said you were going to do in the previous item.
  4. Manage Stakeholder Expectations: Pay attention to your stakeholder’s needs. You don’t want to give them too much or too little information. Give them only what they need which may mean removing or even add to the information identified in step 2.
  5. Report Performance: Periodic analysis of baselines versus actuals during the project. This includes analysis of performace, risks and issues, work completed, upcoming tasks, summary of the approved changes, and others.

Communication is a critical piece of the project health. We are always communicating with our teams and other stakeholders. If we neglect to plan the communciations up front, it is almost guaranteed that something will get missed. When things get missed, we lose out on opportunities to make vital corrections, learn of a new direction, or even a pat on the back every now and then.

I know I have simplified things a bit, especially as they relate to the PMP exam, but for daily business, these are the basics. Sometimes, the projects are small and greatly simplified. This doesn’t mean that these steps should be overlooked. It merely means that the steps are that much easier to follow.

Happy Communicating!

The Project is Done . . . Now What?

It has been 18 long months since this project started, and now it is done with just a few small details waiting to close out. There is only one remaining question, now what?

There is one thing that I’d like to focus on for this post, the closing meeting.

After so many days and weeks and months on this project, it seemed anti-climatic to just end the project by simply stopping work. Besides, I would not be doing my part to really wrap it up the right way. So, I invited all 25 team members and other stakeholders to a long, but not grueling, meeting to finish things up. The agenda looked like this:

  1. Welcome
  2. Project Overview (we also had a pot-luck to break it up a little during this time)
  3. Accomplishments (including value adds)
  4. Lessons Learned
  5. Awards
  6. Final Thanks

Now this meeting lasted all morning, but after 18 months, 3 more hours was not going to hurt anyone and produced a GREAT pay-off. One important note is that I ended the meeting on-time. What was so great about it? Well, for one, everyone got to see what the team accomplished in a relatively short amount of time for the work that we did. Also, they got to see what their “extra” efforts did to produce values added that were unexpected. Lastly, and almost most importantly, was the lessons learned portion of the meeting. Beforehand, I had asked everyone to brainstorm lessons learned, including the good along with the bad. What we found out were some things done very well, and some things that will actually result in some departmental changes.

Lastly, I took a little time and fewer than $30.00 US and created a little momento of my own appreciation to each and every team member for their individual contribution. It was small, but the entire team walked out with their heads held high and a small token to remind them of what they accomplished.

It is important to hold a project closure meeting with the entire team. It is important to recognize the projects celebrations as well as what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future. Most importantly, it is critical that you show your team appreciation for what they’ve accomplished. Your people are the ones who make you and your projects successful. I spent just over a dollar a person and it made them smile. It doesn’t take much, just some thought and a little time.

Congratulations on finishing your project on-time and under budget!! Now go wrap it up and put some closure on it!!