When you start a project management course, one of the first things you’ll hear is that project management is, at its core, all about communication. In fact, 57% of projects fail due to “a breakdown in communications.” With this in mind, project managers must make it their mission to continuously improve project communication (and mitigate the potential for communication breakdowns) when conducting their job.
Below we share three suggestions to improve project communications.
How do you improve communication in projects?
1. Know your project stakeholders
In project management, the term “stakeholder” refers to anyone with a vested interest in the outcome of a project. This will include anyone working on the project team, executives whose bottom line will be affected by the project, and resource managers whose teams’ workloads will be affected by the project.
When engaging stakeholders a project manager should have a clear understanding of who their stakeholders are for every project. It is vital to keep a steady and straightforward line of communication. Before the first portion of any project is started, including a list of stakeholders and what level of project communication is required for each of them.
For example, the project team executing the project will likely need more frequent updates than stakeholders who are more interested in the overall project outcomes.
2. Leverage meetings
There are a few different types of meetings and more formal types of project communication that you can utilize to improve communication on your team.
Kickoff meeting: This is a one-time meeting that typically occurs at the beginning of the project process after the project has been outlined. You can utilize this to confirm the project objectives, goals, and to go over the deliverables that will be produced by the project.
Project team meetings: These meetings occur regularly throughout the life of the project. You can use these meetings to touch base with the core project team and review the project’s current status.
Check-ins and meeting notes: These are less formal communications that can occur over instant message or email, and can either involve asking the project team to provide updates asynchronously or simply recapping project team meetings in an email sent to the project team. They’ll usually involve the core project team members but can have supervisory stakeholders copied if they prefer to have more visibility on project communication.
Status meetings: Much like how check-ins are primarily used for communicating with members who actively make daily or weekly contributions to the project, status meetings primarily concern stakeholders with a more distant perspective to the project, like leadership. Use these to give more goal-oriented updates.
3. Use project management communication tools
Active communication such as meetings is a great tool, but don’t underestimate the value of passive project communication. Project management communication tools are a great way for you as a project manager to see the details of every project and for stakeholders to “help themselves” if they need to remember when an individual project task was completed.
Project management communication tools can range in breadth; you could use something as simple as a Slack channel devoted to a project or get really granular and use a project tool like Asana. These are great ways to improve project communication because they reduce the number of one-off project questions that will come in from stakeholders.
For example, where a graphic designer might have to ask a project manager when they can expect to get a piece of copy for their design, with a project management communication tool the designer would only have to look up the copy task record and see when the copy was scheduled to be ready.
Honing your project communication skills and more.
Whether you’re just now breaking into a project management career or have a couple of years of experience, you’ll likely always be working to improve project communication. But rest assured: when you make these improvements, you will see a jump in efficiency, stakeholder satisfaction, and, most importantly, project completions. And while every team has different communication norms, it’s important as a project manager to encourage everyone on your team to be on the same page regarding project communication.
If you’re ready to improve your project management skills or learn new project management tools, consider taking a project-based program like Pathstream’s Asana Project Management Certificate. In this program, students will be introduced to the foundations of project management. You will have an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the role of a project manager and the leadership skills they need to become successful.
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