The Project communication management assists in determining who needs what information, when and in what form to give it to him, while all projects have a common imperative to implement effective project communication, information needs and dissemination methods vary considerably. Project Communication management must be included in the overall planning of the project. We must determine the frequency of required meetings. For effective project communication management, it is necessary to evaluate
Things to Evaluate Project Communication Management
- The responsibilities of relationships between stakeholders and organization responsible for the project
- The disciplines, services and specialties involved in the project
- The geographical location and geographical mobility of the project stakeholders
- The need for external information (eg communication with the media)
In the case of projects involving many actors and services, it is recommended to establish a communication plan at the beginning of the project to facilitate communication during the project. The Communication Plan, also sometimes referred to as the “Communication Management Plan”, is a document which presents:
- The methods used to collect and retain different types of information. Procedures should also specify the procedures for collecting and disseminating updates and corrections to previously disseminated documents.
- The recipients of the information according to the nature of the information (progress reports, data, calendar, technical documentation …), the methods used to disseminate the various types of information and the disseminators of this information.
- A description of the information to be disseminated: the format, content, degree of detail, conventions and definitions to be used.
- The transmission schedules that specify when each type of information is issued
- Methods for accessing information between two planned communications
- A method of updating and redefining the communication plan during the project
The communication plan can be formalized or informal, little or very detailed, depending on the nature of the project.
Communication Technologies and Media
Achieving effective communication during the project depends on the choice of tools and supports adapted to the project. In order to do this, several points must be raised:
- The urgency of the need for information: Does the success of the project depend on regularly updated information available at all times, or are regular written reports sufficient?
- The technology available : they are enough technologies already in place to communicate or does it develop new means of communication (Intranet, tele-conferencing software installations …)
- The qualification level project stakeholders: Are the proposed communication systems compatible with the experience or skill level of the participants. If this is not the case, training in communication tools is to be expected.
- The duration of the project: For longer projects, it must be asked whether the current technology is not likely to evolve and requires no updating during the project.
Several types of communication can be used:
- informal meetings between two project stakeholders,
- Formal meetings between project managers.
The documents produced can be simple Word documents written and distributed by e-mail or made available on a part of the Intranet dedicated to the project. Communication on the project can be continuous through the use of Groupware tools (eg Lotus Notes). The geographical spread of project actors requires the use of specific communication tools such as teleconferencing tools or video conferencing tools.
For example, software such as Microsoft NetMeeting or SameTime (IBM Lotus Instant Messaging & Web Conferencing) will allow an interlocutor to present slides to the project, while remaining at his / her workstation. Netmeeting and Sametime can also be used for remote training at the end of the project by allowing the trainer to share applications and to show the apprentices the practical use of these applications.
While Netmeting and SameTime are subject to licensing, SKYPE, free software that allows remote video conferencing. However, SKYPE does not have application sharing capabilities.
Example 1: At the end of the project to set up a new European inventory reporting tool for a large computer manufacturer, the training of the different users of the application in Germany and Spain was done from France (in English) thanks to Netmeeting which allowed the trainer to take control of the computers of the people to be trained and for them to see on their computer the course of the training and the demos around the new tool and to hear the voice of the trainer in their helmet. They were also able to ask questions at the end of the presentation and take advantage of questions from other participants.
Example 2: At the end of the project to deploy an accounting management tool for a large bank, SameTime trained the various users of the Hong Kong subsidiary. Users were grouped in a meeting room and watched the trainer’s actions on the image restored by the overhead projector.
Relevant Project Information
The determination of the relevant information of the project to be communicated requires an analysis of the communication needs of the project stakeholders.
The information to be communicated depends on the nature of the interlocutors:
- General direction
- Piloting bodies (heads of mission, project managers)
- Actors of the “functional” type project (project manager or MOA )
- Actors of the “technical” type project (project management or MOE )
The Directorate is concerned with the overall progress of the project, the main lines of the project, the major risks, potential obstacles that may arise during the project.
The steering bodies bring together the various persons in charge of the project. Each manager collects information from his or her team regularly, either orally or in writing. They meet in steering committees to provide an overview of the progress of the project; the major difficulties encountered and take decisions on possible corrective measures. At these committees, they adopt a summary communication on the project.
The steering committees then communicate the minutes of the meeting to the other actors in the project. Oral points are held between the team leaders and their subordinates regarding the decisions taken, the possible consequences of the interactions between the project teams, and gives them an overall visibility that they do not have on the advancement, the difficulties which may have an impact on them or on the difficulties that may affect all the project teams (for example, delays in the delivery of work stations essential to the progress of the project).
The actors of the MOA and MOE project may be able to communicate with each other, while they are not part of the same teams to compare their working methods, their functional solutions with a given problem for the “functional” ones, their programs (for techniques), difficulties encountered or tricks found to save time.
The actors of the functional type and the actors of technical type are called to communicate throughout a project. The actors of the first category write a preliminary study and then functional specifications to meet the objectives of the project. The players of the second category, after reading these documents, draw up a technical specification, which is the answer in terms of technical development. All these documents are validated by the project managers.