Communications for projects that work
Posted on 18th October 2023
To be called a success a project so more than meet the original goals and deliver the planned benefits; it must also be completed on time and within budget.
For over a decade the Project Management Institute (PMI), which supports professionals around the world, has carried out a ‘Pulse of the Profession’ survey. The 2023 report names communication as one of the four Power Skills project professionals need to meet organisational objectives.
Organisations prioritising these power skills see higher rates of project management maturity, reaslsie more project management benefits and improve agility.
So, how can performance improve?
"The space shuttle was designed, at least in part, to broaden our knowledge of the universe. To scientists, the vehicle was a tool; to engineers, it was their creation."
Every project’s success depends on people. They need to understand what they need to do, be willing to do it and support the intended outcomes. However, differing priorities of the people implementing change can be a challenge.
The PMI confirms that at Executive Board level the focus is on strategic thinking and how to minimise disruption caused by change. Executives are also likely to be influenced by customer responses and reduced efficiency, so they will also be highly sensitive to risks.
Project managers are rightly focused on the mechanics of delivery. The people at the coalface are often juggling the demands of change.
with the need to keep day-to-day activities running. Quite often these important people are unaware of what the change is expected to deliver.
Here are four examples of how any project, large or small, can benefit from professional communications.
1. Initial engagement – a lot of projects fail before they have started. This is because the people who will be instrumental in their success weren't consulted and engaged in advance. It’s important for leaders to set the strategic context, but that doesn’t mean consultation is a tick-box exercise. The art is to understand where early input can make a difference and to keep within these parameters. Your communications professionals can manage this process smoothly and effectively.
2. Managing the project’s people - there will normally be a project board, a decision-making team, an operational team. Any number of task specific groups are probably involved too. Making sure everyone is delivering their part is a major undertaking. The structures and language of the project management world aren’t always ideally suited to engagement and motivation. Effective communication can translate high-level project objectives and make sure that they are properly understood and measured.
3. Mitigating risk – understanding risks and proactively managing them is an essential part of any project. Where these risks involve the choices people might make, communications can effectively address concerns and promote positive responses that support project goals.
4. Promoting – gaining support throughout the process can be pivotal for success. Executive Board reports need to reassure project sponsors that the objectives are understood and being met. The people who will deliver and be affected by change need to be engaged and rewarded. The whole project can be enhanced with effective communications advice and support. Once a project is complete it’s equally important to make sure that results are properly measured and publicised to demonstrate success.
Here’s the Tesserae challenge.
Let us take a look at one of your recent projects and give you some advice about how communications could have made a difference.
There’s no charge, just a genuine interest in demonstrating how communications can add value to your business.
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