Communication is vital to the success of a project. Different team members have different responsibilities, but also have different opinions and learn from different experiences. You must develop a project and let people know what you are doing for that project. Project Management consists of 5 major processes and 3 supporting processes. All these processes rely on human communication. If one fails it would be hard for other processes to work too. This article will help you succeed in communicating with others better, especially in team communications, so that you can achieve the desired results in projects.
When you have a project to do, and you have to communicate with someone to get it done, what is the best way? For example you might be a programmer and the person you have to communicate with is a designer. You are working on some software that needs a new user interface, so she designs one and shows it to you. And then…
A traditional way of proceeding would be for you to tell the designer what’s wrong with her design, and then for her to go away and fix it. But this has several problems. For one thing, if you are not an interface designer yourself, the mistakes in her proposed solution may not be obvious to you. It may take longer for you to tell her what’s wrong than it will for her to just fix them herself. And if she does that, how will she know when she’s done? She’ll be back asking for more feedback. So this approach doesn’t scale well. A better approach is to try explaining your requirements in terms of principles instead of solutions.
For a group to be able to discuss a project, they first need a shared goal. This is the part that often gets overlooked. When people work on a project together they don’t always have a clear idea of what they’re aiming for. The goal is usually something like “make something cool” or “make more money.” These are vague, ambiguous, and unhelpful. They don’t give the people working on the project any guidance on what to do when they’re faced with a choice between two options.
How do you know if something is “cool”? Who decides? And how much money is enough? You can’t just keep adding features forever; at some point you need to stop and ship the product. When people have a shared goal, it’s easier for them to communicate about the project. But shared goals alone aren’t enough. The people in the group also have to trust each other.
Resolve and improve
Problems with communication are rarely simple. A while back one of our clients had an interesting problem: the project team was failing to understand each other. The project manager was convinced that the developers didn’t listen; the developers were convinced that the PM couldn’t communicate requirements properly. (It was a web-based system. The PM’s background was in insurance and finance, not in software.)
In a typical scenario, the PM would meet with a customer and come back with some requirements, which he’d convey in words like “Such-and-such feature should work like this.” Then the developers would try to implement it, and it would turn out to be something different from what the customer originally intended. And so the PM would tell them they weren’t listening.
The developers rolled their eyes and said they were doing their best, but they couldn’t read minds. It reminded me of an old Dilbert cartoon where Dilbert’s boss says “Dilbert, I need you to use your psychic powers to find out if my wife really likes her birthday present.” We were hired as technical advisers, on the assumption that we could help solve this communication problem.
Use the right software tools
When using project management tools, the question of how to apply them often arises. Project management tools are not a substitute for a solid foundation in project management principles and practices. The tools are simply a means to an end, and their use is only as effective as their application.
It is tempting to think that project management tools can be used without a strong understanding of both the principles of project management and the practices of software development. It is true that there are several project management tools available today that provide features that support the practices of software development. However, these features alone do not constitute a solid foundation for managing projects. For example, many project management tool vendors have developed “project managers” or “project coordinators” whose primary responsibility is to create a plan for the implementation of the tool. These people may or may not be familiar with the principles of software development and even if they are familiar with these principles it is not likely that they have any experience managing projects in practice. The role of these “managers” is then to implement the tool according to its specifications, with little regard for how this implementation will impact other aspects of the project such as testing, coding, and configuration management.
If you want to use software for project management, you have to consider whether it will be easy or difficult to adapt your current methods. If they are too different, they might require a lot of effort and time with uncertain results. Even if you are convinced that the new tool will help you, there are other factors involved in the decision-making process: The cost of the tool is not only the price of the license, but also the time required for its implementation and maintenance. Your team has been using a certain methodology for a long time and has probably acquired some good practices. A software solution might force them to change their habits, which can be frustrating and reduce motivation. You must remember that some project management tools have predefined ways of organizing tasks and assigning resources that may not fit your needs. It is important to evaluate if the methodologies used by these applications are compatible with yours or if they require too much adaptation. If so, there will be an additional cost in bringing your processes into line
Communication is a critical aspect of successful project management. Without good communication, there would be no way to ensure that the project manager is fulfilling their duties and the team is completing their responsibilities. Communication can be divided into two categories: written and verbal communication. Before the project gets underway, it’s important to write down a communication plan that identifies the right channels that will be used for communication both within and outside of the organization, who will responsible for communicating in each channel and when they’re supposed to do it. This should be documented in the project plan and made available to everyone who’s involved with the primary project team.