Formal and Informal Communications

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Formal Communications

Project managers and members of their project teams are frequently required to make formal presentations to their managers, their customers, and various other stakeholders in the project. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary for them to have good presentation skills.

Today we are fortunate that there is much in the way of computer software for presentations that makes this formerly expensive chore easy and inexpensive to accomplish. One of the most popular software packages is Microsoft PowerPoint. This software package makes formal presentations easy. Digital photography is now widely available, so that photographs can be easily inserted into the presentation to make it more meaningful. Video projection is also widely available, so that the tedious process of making presentation graphics on transparencies is no longer necessary.

Distance conferencing is now widely used. Video and audio connections between conference rooms eliminate the need to have people travel to distant locations to attend meetings. This not only reduces the cost of travel but significantly saves time that can be devoted to more direct project work.

The Internet as well has proven to be a great communication tool for project management. Project data from various parts of a project located in remote parts of the world can be easily shared and combined with other project data through the Internet.

E-mail has already changed the way we communicate. For most of us, the use of e-mail has changed the way we do business. Unlike telephone calls, which are almost always an interruption in what we are doing, the e-mail we receive is looked at when we want to. This allows us to pay close attention to what is being communicated and carefully respond to inquiries. Many decisions made quickly during a telephone call may soon be regretted.

Informal Communications

I have a good friend who is now retired from the U.S. Navy. He was a captain and had a large command of some 1,200 people. We often have discussions about the Navy way of doing things.

One of the problems in any military organization is the structure of the military chain of command. The strict chain of command is required because, when fighting a war, it is critical that legitimate orders be carried out. There is usually no time for discussion, and commanders do not usually have time to explain things to the subordinates who are to carry out the orders. It is important that each subordinate communicates to his or her superior officer and not deviate from that order. It would lead to confusion if an officer would go directly to a subordinate three levels below the officer.

The problem is that the military are not always engaged in war and fighting. Most of the time they are engaged in the business of keeping the forces ready to fight. This part of the military function is more like an everyday business. As we have seen, in a company having free and open communications is a better way to communicate than having a strict chain of command. It is not possible to have an organization work two different ways.

In the military, the problem is solved by having parties. The U.S. Navy has frequent cocktail parties. When I attended such parties, I noticed that very few people were drinking. I also observed that very few people were sitting. This was because the party allowed people to circulate regardless of rank and order in the chain of command. If one person needed to get information from another, he or she could do it this way without going through the formality of the chain of command.

Often in project management there is a need for formal communications. The normal method of communicating between the project team and the stakeholders should be open and free, but there are times when formal communications are necessary. When major milestones in the project are being passed and agreement must be had from all the stakeholders, formal communications are necessary. When authorized project changes are made, it is necessary to have formal communications. As the number of persons involved in a decision is increased, the need for formal communications increases.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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