HIT241 - COMMUNICATIONS MANAGEMENT Introduction. The greatest threat to many projects is a failure to communicate. Our culture does not portray IT professionals as being good communicators.
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The greatest threat to many projects is a failure to communicate.
Our culture does not portray IT professionals as being good communicators.
BUT, research shows that IT professionals must be able to communicate effectively to succeed in their positions.
Strong verbal skills are a key factor in career advancement for IT professionals.
Communications planning: determining the information and communications needs of the stakeholders.
Information distribution: making needed information available in a timely manner.
Performance reporting: collecting and disseminating performance information.
Administrative closure: generating, gathering, and disseminating information to formalize phase or project completion.
Every project should include a communications management plan to guide project communications. A Communications Management Plan should contain:
Getting the right information to the right people at the right time and in a useful format is just as important as developing the information in the first place.
Important considerations include:
A well publicized example of misuse of e-mail comes from the 1998 Justice Department's high profile, antitrust suit against Microsoft. E-mail emerged as a star witness in the case. Many executives sent messages that should never have been put in writing. The court used e-mail as evidence, even though the senders of the notes said the information was being interpreted out of context.
Some companies, such as Amazon.com, have established policies to encourage employees to watch their use of e-mail and delete it often. Their "Sweep and Clean" program instructed employees to purge e-mails that were no longer required for business or legal purposes. They even offered free café lattes to employees who complied immediately.
Harmon, Amy, "E-mail comes back to haunt companies," November 29, 1998
Performance reporting keeps stakeholders informed about how resources are being used to achieve project objectives.
A project or phase of a project requires closure.
Administrative closure produces:
The following are important issues that project managers and team members must address if they are to deliver effective project communications:
There are five basic Conflict Handling Modes. In preference order these are:
1. Confrontation or problem-solving: directly face a conflict.
2. Compromise: use a give-and-take approach.
3. Smoothing: de-emphasize areas of differences and emphasize areas of agreement.
4. Forcing: the win-lose approach.
5. Withdrawal: retreat or withdraw from an actual or potential disagreement.
Projects rely heavily on leadership, teamwork, cooperation and mutual understanding. Empathy, a vital ingredient of communication, is influenced by the attitude and example of project managers and their ability in interpersonal communication.
It takes leadership to help improve communication. Senior management must set and lead by example.
Information technology professionals must have the opportunity to develop communication skills. They need to be able to gain experience in drafting reports, making presentations, and managing important business relationships.
A well-run meeting is an important means for encouraging team building and reinforcing expectations, roles, relationships, and commitment to the project.
However, a poorly run meeting can have a detrimental effect on a project. In particular, many people complain about the time they waste in unnecessary, or poorly planned and poorly executed meetings.
To make the preparation of project communications easier, project managers need to provide examples and templates for common project communications - eg: project descriptions, project charters, monthly performance reports, oral status reports, etc.
Good documentation from previous projects can be an excellent source of examples.
Samples and templates of both written and oral reports are particularly helpful for persons who are preparing or presenting reports for the first time.
A communications infrastructure is a set of tools, techniques, and principles that provide a foundation for the effective transfer of information:
There are many software tools to aid in project communications. However, organisations will need to adjust existing communication systems to meet the special needs of a project.
Microsoft Project 98 (onwards) include an increasing number of features to enhance communications within projects (for example - publishing project data as a HTML file).
MS Project 98 Information Saved as HTML File
It is becoming more difficult to be a successful project manager.
Projects are becoming more complex and project team members more demanding.
Traditional management approaches have been replaced with those that depend on mutually beneficial linkage and relationship.
To develop these relationships, the project manager must be a skilled communicator -