Risk and Communication Management

Risks and Communication Management

A significant portion of successful project management is due to communication, so it should stand to reason that ineffective communications can be a significant source of project failures.  Everything from evoking scope and requirements, prioritizing objectives, to team building requires effective communication.

Communication is used in keeping the project team in step with the project objectives, as well uncovering previously unknown constraints and adapting to the situations that are presented to the project.  That includes articulating and taking advantage of opportunities as they come available in the course of project execution.

Communication is used in our progress reporting to the project sponsors, we must communicate with our team to and ask questions, define and track metrics to ascertain the progress, and then report that in such a way that the sponsors can understand and take actions we believe are necessary for the project team to remain successful.

We provide a brief list of things that can go wrong in communication management below:

  • undefined areas of responsibility
  • unidentified stakeholders and sponsors
  • false stakeholders acting as stakeholders
  • no or poorly articulated communications plan
  • poorly executed or no escalation plans
  • poor project reviews
  • poorly executed and insufficient project reviews
  • team dispersed across the globe without remediation
  • poorly conducted project meetings
  • no note taking during the meeting
  • no decisions made as a result of meetings
  • unidentified communications channels
  • misuse of (or unaccounted for) informal communications
  • too many communications channels
  • organizational structure complexity
  • no connection between sponsor and areas of priority
  • multiple sponsors
  • no defined method of communication (leaving it to chance)
  • poor listening skills
  • poor recording skills (notes)
  • meeting management
  • team hygiene
  • excessive politics
  • political speak (obfuscation communication)
  • closed environment to open discourse
  • unspecified status reporting periods
  • unknown status report contents (metrics)
  • command and control environment that inhibits open communication

Experience suggests, the complexity of communication often found in conventional projects can be remedied by adopting an agile approach.  Using the an agile approach, the communication channels are reduced and typically collocated.  There are frequent opportunities for communication and the metrics are monitored and constantly reviewed. Additionally, the communication is much more open and subjected to less political pressures, at least if it is done reasonably well.

Many things can derail a project or lead to project failure, and communication is one of them.  Poor communication also exacerbates the risks in the other knowledge management areas.

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