Team Communications Management
By: Samuel Lartey, Project Manager.

There is no gain saying that project management success is determined by whether the project was completed on time, within budget, and with all features as originally specified. That gives ground to the iron triangle-the triple constraint. There is however a new dimension in project management which puts the customer at the centre of project delivery. This looks now at the fact that the ultimate satisfaction of the customer should remain the desire of the project manager. The customer must be satisfied with what has been accomplished.

Marketing experts have stressed that the satisfied customer would communicate his satisfaction but when not would communicate his dissatisfaction. On the otherhand, they have it that for every satisfied customer who shares his satisfaction regarding a particular product or service with another person; a dissatisfied customer is likely to share his dissatisfaction to more than quadruple number of people (satisfaction to dissatisfaction ratio). Project managers therefore need to cultivate positive working relations with clients to ensure success and preserve their reputations. This would be done through effective communication.

Communication Management
There is therefore an important ingredient in project management that must always be effectively managed. This is the project communication management plan. To successfully manage a project, the project manager must have in place all processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage and ultimate disposition of project information. Effective communication plan provides links among teams, ideas and information.
It must be emphasized here that communication management if done effectively, generates project results which are acceptable to all. If not, problems generated from lack of communication can torpedo a project and the reputation of the project manager.
Project managers must be skilled in managing communication at all levels of the project. Proactive project managers do not wait to reactively explain situations, but start shaping proper expectations up front and accept that this in an ongoing process throughout the life of the project. They communicate the needed information available in a timely manner.

Below are four important factors to consider when managing a communication management plan.

Communication Plan
To effectively manage project communication, the project manager must begin first by having a communication plan. This would take care of what information should be communicated and when. Who will receive the information, methods to be used by to gather, store and distribute information and the reporting relationships among other things.

Information Distribution
Another important area in communication management is the distribution of information to interest holders. This can be in the form of minutes, reports, presentations, formal and informal communication. What is important here is the identification of the information need of all the stakeholders. What is there to be shared: problems, successes, team performances, meeting schedule, risks and issues identified?

Speak with one voice
Nothing erodes confidence in a project more than for a customer or stakeholder to receive conflicting messages from different project team members. The project manager should remind team members of this fact and work with them to ensure that appropriate information is shared with customers.

Speak the language of the stakeholder.
Too often project members respond to customer inquiries with technical jargon that exceeds the customer's vocabulary and comprehension. Project managers and members need to describe problems, trade-offs, and solutions in ways that the customer can understand. Project managers and members must also use nonverbal physical mannerisms, parralingual, pitch and tone of voices that would be much appreciated by their stakeholders.

Organizations are recognizing that it is not acceptable to stand still in a world where change is the only constant factor and leading to competitive advantage to those who see and manage it. To be able to compete in today's business world, businesses are propelling their business strategies through project management but to be successful in managing projects business must enhance their communication management skills.

Author's Bio: 

MBA Degree in Information and Project Management. Leadership and Motivational writter and speaker. A member of the Project Management Institute. Mentored by Rene Carayol.