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Effective Communications in Project Management

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Communications provides the wings for you to fly to success.


Effective Communications in Project Management: What do I know? Who needs to know it? And Have I told them.

Prepared For:

Research Paper: Communications Skills

Statement of the problem:

How do we insure effective communications in the project management environment?


The purpose of this paper is to recommend that Project Management is a concept that focuses on the dynamic characteristics of a multi-facetted organization. In such a changing situation, effective communication is a characteristic that should be stressed and becomes the most important tool for the project manager and team members.


In order to manage in an increasingly dynamic and changing society the business world has ever more turned towards project management, which has been recognized as a way to improve the management system. The Project Managers work through teams, which are dynamic and empowered. Performance is the necessary heart of the team. Managing the veins and arteries of information flow to and from the team as well as with-in the team's environment becomes just as important. Martino, R.L (1964, p13) reinforces this in his book about project management and control - finding the critical path. He describes project management as operating in a "vast sea of data." Throughout PMC 5040 and 5010 we have learned that successful project management must over come obstacles such as:

* Project complexity

* Customer's special requirements and scope changes

* Organizational restructuring

* Project risks

* Changes in technology

* Forward planning and pricing

In his section on Communications in a project environment, Verma, V.K. (1996, pp15-53) terms these obstacles as, "overlapping responsibilities, frequent changes in scope and constraints, complex integration and interface requirements, decentralized decision-making processes and a potential for conflict all pose communication challenges." To me this is simply put as information overload. As a Project Manager one must be a leader and utilize all available tools to deal with this information overload and see the project through successful completion. Verma, goes on to say that do to the unique features of projects and the way project teams are organized in a matrix fashion, effective communication is vital for project success. Reinforcing this is Tushman, M.L. (1979, p37-49) Communication is the biggest single factor influencing the quality, effectiveness, satisfaction and productivity of a project team.

Webster's defines effective as producing a desired result: in operation. To communicate is defined as to transmit: give or exchange information. So effective communication is to transmit or exchange information in order to produce a desired result. Massie (1979, p95) said, "Communication serves as a linking process by which parts of a system are tied together." I can see the parallels between effective communication and leadership. The Marine Corps experience has taught me that leadership is the art of directing or influencing someone to do that which they would not have done on his or her own.

Effective project communications ensures that we get the right information to the right person at the right time in a cost-effective manner, as Kerzner (2003, p227) puts it. Again I draw on my Marine Corps experience and relate Kerzner's words to what I have been taught. Which is, from the leader or those being lead, information should be handled with three basic questions in mind.

1. What do I know?

2. Who needs to know it?

3. And have I told them?

House and Price's (1991, p92) view in their discussion about "...the value gained from the collaborative work of cross-functional development teams". Kerzner (2003, p10 states that the primary skills needed to be an effective project manager in the twenty-first century are, Knowledge of the business, Risk management and Integration Skills. He goes on to illustrates this thought as Integration Management. With the inputs to these teams being termed as resources:

o Capital

o Materials

o Equipment

o Facilities

o Information

o Personnel

The output in from this process is:

o Product

o Services

o Profit

Project Management consists of:

People management

* Communication;

* The operation of an effective feedback loop;

* Teamwork and the use of cross functional teams;

* The development of procedures for co-coordinating and providing direction to others; empowerment

* Accountability

Scope, evaluation and risk management

* Planning and the understanding of life cycle;

* Assessment, evaluation and cash flow projections;

* The development of scope;

* The development and accuracy of estimates and budgets;

* The identification of constraints in the early stages;

* The availability of accurate data and information;

* The establishment of performance measures;

Control and change management



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