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The best and worst communication methods in project management


Poor communication in project management is a big problem for organisations.

A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of £47.31 million per year because of inadequate communication between employees.

That’s even before you discuss your communications with external partners. Using incorrect methods is likely to lead to collaboration failure and a breakdown in your relationship with them.

In this blog post, we’re going to list some of the best (and worst) communication methods in project management.

The worst

Let’s start with the worst ones, shall we? If the statistic about the huge amount of money lost concerned you, I would recommend reading on to discover the types of communication in project management you need to avoid.

This is even more important when you consider that poor communication is a key reason for most project management failures.

Taking a closer look at the common tools you use every day, it’s clear why these are now inadequate for 21st Century project management.

Email

Email

Since exploding onto the scene in the 1990s, email has become the norm for communicating inside and outside of the workplace.

However, opinions are starting to change. It is now known as one of the biggest productivity killers and project managers are increasingly looking for alternative ways to communicate with stakeholders.

Firewalls are also causing major issues. These are set up to provide a barrier between a trusted network and an untrusted network.

However, problems begin to surface when you try and send an important document and it is blocked from reaching its recipient.

Only hours later do you realise this has happened and by then, a deadline might have passed or you may have upset a stakeholder who was expecting to receive it hours earlier.

However, stopping people using email to collaborate on documents is easier said than done.

Video conferencing

Video conferencing was first introduced to bridge the gap between people in the office and others based remotely.

On the surface, this works well. It’s more personal than a phone call as you can see their face and be more interactive compared to sending an email.

But there are issues with video communication. For one, ‘halted’ or ‘broken’ conversation is common.

What do I mean by this? Well, when multiple people are on a conference call, voices tend to overlap and individuals can’t be sure if another person is talking or going to start talking. This ‘lag’ in video conferencing is problematic as the conversation then becomes disjointed and key points are missed.

This creates a barrier to collaborating effectively and leaves all your stakeholders disengaged with the project, as they feel they’re unable to contribute fully.

Meetings

Meetings

How many meetings do you hold a day? A week? A year?

According to a European survey of 2,000 employees, the average worker spends an equivalent of 23 days a year in meetings. With the claim being that 56% of those meetings are generally ‘unproductive’. That equates to a lot of wasted time!

This includes meetings with your external partners. However, they have the added inconvenience of having to travel to your office.

Putting aside the environmental issues, this can also lead to a loss of productive hours as they are spending it on a train or in a car, as opposed to their usual place of work.

OK I know what you’re thinking, meetings aren’t all that bad. To some extent, I would agree. When it is well planned, with a clear agenda and is engaging to attendees, they can work well.

However, more often than not this isn’t the case. Incredibly, 34% of staff fall asleep during meetings and 63% of them don’t even have a planned agenda. All of which makes you wonder why people bother attending them at all?

The best communication method

A well thought out communication strategy – with the right tools – is critical for the success of your project.

There is a much simpler way for you to communicate with internal and external stakeholders – via project management communication tools.

Both private and public-sector organisations have benefited greatly from using them.  This is shown in the results of a survey by Frost & Sullivan which found the companies investing in collaboration technologies increase productivity by as much as 400%. Sounds great right?!

Here are a few reasons why this is the best communication tool for project management :

Centralised access

Collaboration is built on effective communication. By utilising a platform where your team has centralised access to up-to-date information at any given time, the process becomes more efficient.

Any ad hoc requests can be managed and completed at a faster rate,asas your team members don’t have to log into multiple tools to find the information they need to do their job.

Greater transparency

Transparency is the cornerstone of successful project management. It allows project managers to maintain a good relationship with stakeholders by being clear and honest about differences in expectations.  

It’s important throughout the project duration, stakeholders are informed of any changes in circumstances as it may affect the project’s final outcome.

Additional Features

What makes project communication tools so good? They offer all the functionality you need in one place, rather than spread across numerous different tools. This ensures important information doesn’t get “lost in the cracks” which is often the case when using multiple tools such as email, video conferencing and meetings.

Here are just some of the additional features:

Surveys – Gain instant feedback from your stakeholders in a private online environment.

Task lists – Manage your own task list or assign important tasks to team members.

Databases – Record key contact information of customers, (CRM) or important people within your organisation.

Calendars – Create separate calendars for meeting room bookings, your personal schedule or to monitor team activities.

Forums – Create forums to engage your stakeholders and encourage discussion around a variety of topics.

Are you currently assessing online collaboration tools? Our guide contains 10 key questions you should ask potential suppliers. Download it here:


 

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