How to Communicate Effectively Throughout a Project

by Veronica Thraen / October 28, 2018

Some may perceive a Project Manager’s job as easy: they facilitate meetings, manage the schedules and communicate with various teams and customers throughout the project. Sounds straight-forward but, the truth is, projects can fail due to poor communication. 

According to PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), a Project Manager spends up to 90% of their time formally or informally communicating. That’s why it’s so important for PMs to have the communications skills necessary to manage expectations from project inception to completion. Any missed information or misunderstanding can have a huge impact on a project. 

Here are some questions that should be asked during each phase of a project to ensure that details aren’t missed, and your project stays on track, so you can achieve your business and revenue goals:

Project Initiation

* Has the PM been provided with all the pertinent project information by the sponsor – i.e. objective, budget, scope, etc.—to be able to relay it to the team?
* Has the project objective, scope, expected timeline and success criteria been documented and communicated to the team and stakeholders?  Is everyone in agreement?
* Are team roles and responsibilities defined and understood by all?
* Have any issues, risks, assumptions, constraints been identified, documented and communicated?

Project Planning

* Does the team have all the necessary information on requirements or features to be able to develop their task list and provide effort estimates?
* Has the final plan been communicated to all? If the plan does not meet an originally requested timeline provided by the sponsor, have they been provided with the reasons why and any alternatives? Further discussions/negotiation may be required if the end date cannot be changed.
* Has the PM discussed and documented the type of information, frequency and method required by the sponsor and stakeholders for project reporting?
* Has the team discussed options for mitigating the known risks?

Project Execution, Monitoring and Control

* Is the PM reporting on progress and any variances to the budget, scope, schedule? Information should be appropriately communicated based on audience whether in email, meeting or documentation (i.e. executives vs. technical team).
* Have any new issues or roadblocks been escalated to the appropriate team members and/or customers? Due diligence should be completed by the PM prior to escalating (i.e. research impact, identify any workarounds, etc.).
* Have any new scope change requests been approved by the sponsor? Have they been reviewed by the team for feasibility? If so, are the stakeholders aware of the change in scope?

Project Closure

* Does the project sponsor agree that all deliverables have been met including success criteria? If not, what’s missing?
* Were items discussed during lessons learned documented and agreed upon by the team? 
* Has all project documentation been archived and made available to the team, stakeholders and sponsor?

Having the ability to effectively communicate throughout the project lifecycle also includes having innate listening skills. A Project Manager should not only provide essential information, they should thoughtfully listen to and understand the needs of internal and external customers.  We’ll be exploring this further in an upcoming post…

Project Management Institute. (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (4th ed.).

Why Maven Project Management

At Maven Project Management, we pride ourselves on ensuring clear and consistent communication throughout the project so that your project stays on track. In fact, after our initial discussion with you, we’ll provide you with a communication plan upfront, so you know what to expect and when. After all, your confidence means the world to us.

One client told us: “The Maven PM has impressed every one of the many Project Sponsors she has worked with because she was consistently able to understand their needs and drive the results they were after.”

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