Project Management Communication: Tools & Methods

Instructor: Saranya Ramachandran

Saranya has a Bachelors in Science focused on Electronics and Telecommunication and a Masters in Business Administration. She has 8 years of Project Management Experience and is PMP Certified.

A major part of project management is using tools and methods in order to communicate effectively. This lesson describes how to start thinking about tools and methods employed for project management communication purposes.

The Role of Communication in Project Management

From the outset, communication seems to be a very easy part of any job. However when it involves human beings with different interests, ideas and personalities it can be quite challenging. A project manager spends most of her time at work communicating with the team, client, and various other stakeholders (a stakeholder is someone who has an interest in the outcome of the project and is affected by it), and she uses a host of tools and methods in order to communicate effectively.

Let us take an example of a website development project. The company ''Angry Websites'' is developing a website for their client ''Happy Umbrella Corporation''. Sally is the project manager. She communicates various items such as:

  • The status of the project
  • Deadlines and deliverables
  • Risks and issues

Sally also keeps her communication lines open with the entire team to make sure that there aren't any roadblocks.

There are two ways Sally could communicate.

  1. Sally could procrastinate and then put in last minute requests to team members to request status updates and other items
  2. Sally could be in constant communication with the team members and produce reports and status on an ongoing basis using various tools that could help her do this better.

Let us see which communication tools and techniques Sally could use to communicate effectively (as in the second item listed above).

Communication Techniques

Let us look at some of the communication techniques that a project manager such as Sally can employ.

  • Different information for different stakeholders - The client is probably interested in learning about any delays, risks, issues, what percentage of the project is complete, and some of the financial information. The team members may require more information on the status of the project such as the tasks assigned and the percentage of tasks complete, the overall scope, any changes to the project features, and so on.

In our example, Sally provides a simple status report and includes an appendix with more detailed information.

  • Project Health Indication - In some instances the project team and clients are interested in learning about the health of the project. The health of the project may include things like whether the project is on schedule and on budget.

In our example Sally indicates the project health to be green due to the fact that the schedule and budget are on track. If the project was slightly behind track she would have indicated yellow, and if it was way behind then she would have indicated it as red.

Communication Tools

A project manager uses various tools to communicate with the team.

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