Maintain Ongoing Communications

More projects have probably failed due to poor communications than from any other factor. Ironically, while everyone recognizes the contribution of good communications to success, it still remains in a dismal state.

One reason is that people confuse the medium with communication. A medium is the vehicle for communicating, acting as an enabler of communication, rather than a substitute for it. With the growing presence of email, videoconferencing, and World Wide Web technologies, many people assume that they will be good communicators.

All too often, the medium simply gives a poor communicator a louder voice. At least from a project management perspective, the medium is not the message.

The other reason for poor communications is the lack of team members' distinction between data and information. While data is unprocessed, information is data that is converted into something meaningful. When team members confuse the two, they send data rather than information, whereupon the recipient must go through the data to derive the information. Because this confusion manifests in electronic as well as paper format, many project team members generate countless data files and emails, and build innumerable Web pages replete with data but not information.

By contrast, good communication is providing the right information at the right time in the right amount to the right person. When that occurs, people operate on the "same wavelength." They take part in better dialog, reducing the number and magnitude of misunderstandings. As a result of good communication, team members are also better able to adapt to change.

To realize the benefits of maintaining good communications, team members can perform three actions. The first is to concentrate on generating information rather than data. This requires focusing on the needs of the audience, in terms of format and level of content. The second way team members can improve communications is to ensure that data and subsequent information are current and relevant. In fact, all too many projects produce data and information that are outdated and irrelevant. The third method of improving communications is to use the chosen medium as the principal means of communication to obtain the necessary data and information. For example, while a project might establish a Web site for this purpose, some people might be intimidated by the technology. In such cases, good communications cannot occur, despite the best technology.

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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