EP2: Poor Communication
What does poor communication mean in project management?
Poor communication is the term used to describe situations when there is a discrepancy between what is said and what is heard and understanding is no longer mutual. This can occur when communication approaches and tools are not well established.
3 Nightmares Caused by Poor Communication
Never-ending meeting is a state of the project team spending too much time on a meeting but getting very poor outcomes. This problem normally occurs when the meeting is not well organized, lack of agenda, key takeaway, supporting information, and key persons. The effect is that the team members may be confused from irrelevant information and have less time for working on other activities.
Rework from Misunderstanding
Rework is referred to as the unnecessary effort of redoing a process or activity that was incorrectly implemented in the first instance. One of the major reasons is that there is a misunderstanding among the team. The unnecessary rework can delay the delivery of each milestone and lead to conflicts within the team.
Team Conflict is an undesirable, interpersonal problem that occurs between two or more members of the same project team, and affects results of teamwork, so the team does not perform at an optimum level. This happens when the team has conflicting or vague information.
3 Ways to Improve Project Communication
- Setup Communication Matrix
Communication matrix is a standardization of how the information will be delivered. It helps the project team understand what information will be delivered to whom and how to communicate them to the audience. The matrix can be set many different ways depending on the type of project. Below table is an example of the matrix that can be used for common IT development projects.
|Project kick-off||Online meeting||One time||Inform project plan, objectives, scope, deliverables, milestones, team members, workstreams, and way of working||Project manager||Working team + Project sponsor + Steering committee|
|Team standup||Online meeting||Daily||Discuss what each member did yesterday, what will do today, and issues||Project manager||Working team|
|Project status report||Online meeting||Weekly||Update project progress and discuss potential issues or delays||Project manager||Working team + Project sponsor|
|Steering meeting||Online meeting||Monthly||Update project progress, major achievements, major issues, cost, timeline, and next steps||Project manager||Working team + Project sponsor + Steering committee|
|Project review||Online meeting||At milestones||Present project deliverables, gather feedback, and discuss next steps||Project manager||Working team + Project sponsor|
|Project closure||Online meeting||At the end of project||Present project result comparing to objective and share lesson learned||Project manager||Working team + Project sponsor + Steering committee|
|Ad hoc meeting||Online meeting||Depend on meeting topics||Present, discuss, or confirm project activities or issues||Depend on meeting topics||Depend on meeting topics|
|Short discussion or task follow up||Online voice channel or Online chat||Anytime||Shortly inform or discuss project activities and issues||Working team||Working team|
|Task status update||Project board||Daily||Update task status and its issues||Working team||Working team|
Above framework can be adjusted to be more suitable with project type and organization culture.
2. Take Minutes and Records
Meeting minutes or meeting notes, created by project manager or someone solely responsible for note taking, are the records of a meeting which consist of agenda, participants, summary of key discussion, proposed ideas, issues, and decisions. These are used for future reference and to inform those team members or stakeholders who are not in attendance and helps the team understand the status of the project through the same information.
Below table is an example of MoM that can be applied for any type of project management.
|Meeting Name||[Meeting Name]|
|Attendees||[list of attendees name]|
|Item No.||Detail||Responsible Person||Due Date|
3. Choose the Right Tools
Each communication and information transmission has a different appropriate transfer method. Choosing the right tool for specific types of communication helps exchange the information smoothly with proper effort. The project team should select the tools that serve agenda, speed, and team culture.
Below table is an example of the tools used in common project management.
|Discord (Text and Voice Channels)||Short discussionTask follow up|
|Decision making or confirmation|
|MS Project||Project planTask assignment and update|
|MS Sharepoint||File transfer|
Poor communication is not a problem that every project or every organization encounters. The most important thing is how the project team can develop a communication plan to prevent and mitigate the problem because these can cause so many issues which affect project outcome and work environment in the company. The above frameworks are examples that can be adapted and applied for many projects. However, there are many more frameworks used for project management, which will be published in the next articles.