Okay, now that I’ve gotten weddings out of my system (see the previous post), it’s back to project management communications (see the post before the previous post).
If your project communications are going to be good, you’ve got to have a plan. The plan can be fancy, with grids of stakeholders and what to send them and when, anticipated noise factors with mitigations, you name it, or it can be as simple as a few notes scribbled on the back of an envelope and thumbtacked to your cubie wall. It’s a matter of your style, your boss’s style, and your organization’s requirements.
But regardless of form, there’s one thing all communications plans should have in common: a goal.
Well, duh. The goal is to provide information about the project, right?
Of course. But there’s more to it than that. What do you hope to accomplish by disseminating that information? The answer will affect the tenor of everything you send out and can make the difference between acceptable and great communications.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
Goal: Provide information about the project. If this is all you’ve got, your various missives are likely to be full of information and as exciting as a bucket of wallpaper paste. In your zeal to “provide information,” you may also end up providing too much detail and causing your materials to trip over their own feet, meaning that nobody will read it. The result? Communications that are merely acceptable, at best.
Goal: Build relationships. With this goal in mind, your information is likely to be targeted to particular individuals, or at least particular groups. You might send a steering committee status report to each member individually, with a cover note saying something like, “Sebastian, you’ll be interested in item 3. It is yellow now but with Kham and Andy working it we should have it green in a week. I’ll keep you posted.” Who knows? You might even find yourself picking up the phone and actually talking to somebody. The result? Smoother working between the members of the team, the stakeholders and you.
Goal: Maintain or boost morale. Every project, no matter how troubled, has some positive aspects (yes, I’m an optimist—so shoot me). If you’re interested in spreading a little joy, the good stuff will probably come at the top of most communications. You might add little touches like whose birthday it is that week. The result? A more motivated team.
Goal: Get a promotion. This doesn’t mean you make everything look like it couldn’t have happened without you. Your project reports, etc. are one of the best ways you have to showcase yourself and your skills to the people who could help you move to the next level. With this goal in mind, your communications are going to be crisp, timely and suitable for executive consumption. You’ll throw in some extras that are genuinely useful and also attract attention. The result? When the opportunity for promotion comes around, you’ll be more likely to get support and consideration.
Think about your own projects and what you want to accomplish through your project communications plan. You may have one goal or several, but whatever the case, with that vision in your head, your results will improve.