Projects rely on effective communications - a project is no place for individuals to decide what, when and how, without reference to anyone else. We have already touched on this topic in related sections on Stakeholder Management and Reporting and Meetings.
The basic functions of communication and collaboration in projects are:
- giving information to those who need it
- coordinating, stimulating and facilitating of action
- supporting change and influencing the attitudes and behaviour of stakeholder groups
- encouraging and facilitating feedback and two-way information flow
The main audiences for communication in projects are:
- members of the Project Team and others directly involved in project activities
- members of the Project Board and others (e.g. Programme Manager/Office) involved in managing, steering, co-ordinating, controlling funds or involved in changing business processes
- the remainder of the organisation’s management and workforce (including end-users and anyone affected by the outputs from the project)
- external stakeholders such as students, suppliers, partners, funding bodies, regulatory bodies etc.
Communication management is a proactive attempt to manage the expectations and requirements of all stakeholder groups including the project itself. It must address the fundamental questions:
- what information needs to flow both into and out of the project?
- who needs what information?
- when will the information be required?
- in what format and by which channel will the information be provided?
- who will be responsible for ensuring the information is provided?
Collaboration is something that is less actively managed as a matter of routine but is an area that is of critical importance to the kinds of projects we undertake in the sector.
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