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Communication in Project Management 1

Communication in Project Management Anita Mehta

Communication in Project Management 2 Abstract As in any other discipline of business the importance of communication cannot be overemphasized in managing projects. Statistics show that seventy four percent of projects are unsuccessful. One of the many factors that contribute to the failure of these projects is poor or insufficient communication. By taking a closer look at the three main phases of projects - initiation, execution and closedown we can try to determine the role and impact of communication during each phase.

Communication in Project Management 3 Communication in Project Management The importance of communication in the success of a project is immense. Careful communication planning and setting the right expectations with all the project stakeholders is extremely important. Face to face initial communication within the project team to establish the team dynamics and learning the customer’s expectations are the keys to success when starting a project. Throughout my years as a project manager, my belief that the success of a project is a matter of effective communication has been continuously reinforced. As listed by Kerzner: Typical literary definitions of effective communications include: An exchange of information An act or instance of transmitting information A verbal or written message A technique for expressing ideas effectively A process by which meanings are exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols Effective communication involves both sending and receiving the message. With this in mind, a good definition of project communication management can be “Project Communications Management includes the process

Communication in Project Management 4 required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information” (Project management institute standards committee, 1996, p103). Basically, communication is the way information is exchanged between entities. There are various components of the communication process. They include the message, source, encoding, channel, decoding, receiver, feedback, noise, context and shared meaning. One of the primary points of effective communication is that it is interactive. Communication during projects can be of many different types such as oral, written and non-verbal. Oral communication is mainly utilized in face-to-face meetings or over the telephone as well as in group meetings and affords a lot more flexibility to the speaker, such as the ability to communicate not only with voice but body language, attitude and nuance. The subtle nuances that can be communicated during verbal communication are not present during written communication. Written communication, on the other hand, is usually more precise. It can be sent through correspondence such as memos, letters or notices. It can also be sent via Email or the project management information system. The key to making written communication more effective is to first grab people’s attention, then give them a reason to want to read the

Communication in Project Management 5 rest of the communication. I have found this a very useful technique in my projects. When communicating with the customer, say about the status of the project, I try to include attention grabbing graphs and pertinent milestones along with the usual text status and the variance reports. Another type of communication that plays a big role during projects is the non-verbal kind. The way people dress, the tone of their voice, their stance while talking all convey something significant. For example, an interesting anecdote states that during important negotiations with vendors or other business parties, the project team at NASA was taught to keep their hands under the table at all times so as not to produce any misunderstandings through their non-verbal gestures. Being...
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