Ask any veteran project manager about the most important part of running a project, and they will most certainly tell you it's communication. Utilizing a solid project plan, team contact sheet, organizational chart and establishing regular status meetings will help create a strong foundation for project communication.
The project plan is the schedule that the project team will follow to stay on track. Avoid disagreements about timing by gaining team approval on the project plan prior to publishing. Then post the plan in a central location. Print copies to carry with you and hand out when necessary. If needed, send daily reminders of where you're at in the process to ensure everyone is on track.
Project Team Contact Sheet
A contact sheet is a simple document but critical in project communication. Create a sheet that lists everyone involved in the project. The sheet should include each person's name, title, email address, telephone number and any additional key information such as mobile or fax number. Distribute the contact sheet to the entire team and also have printouts handy at meetings. You'd be amazed at how often having this simple sheet will eliminate unnecessary inquires on how to get a hold of another team member. When someone calls to say,“What is Jen’s telephone number?” just reply (nicely of course) that, “it’s on the contact sheet!”
Along with your contact sheet, the organization chart is a simple yet effective tool in your communication arsenal. When you begin to have more than five people involved in a project it's important to keep track of who belongs where in the process and at what level they should be involved. Make sure to gain approval from necessary senior leaders to steer clear of embarrassments with mislabeling a client's rank or title.
Status, Status and More Status
Status meetings are extremely important during a project lifecycle, but you'll want to make the best use of everyone's time by avoiding long, drawn out meetings. Hold daily, weekly and monthly status meetings covering different topics in each.
- Daily meetings should address immediate needs or concerns that are 1-2 days out and should last no longer than 15 minutes.
- Weekly meetings should be a bit longer, say 30 minutes and cover immediate items and concerns 2-3 weeks out.
- Monthly meetings should be a full hour and be a full update on project progress and items and concerns in the months to come.
A Good Foundation
Once you've established a foundation using a clear project plan, contact sheet, organizational chart and status meetings, consider how you can build on your project communication through additional tools such as a RACI matrix or an online file sharing system.
Part 2> Expanding Your Project Communication Toolbox