Five Dangers of Poor Project Communication

December 29, 2009 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Communications Management,Information Distribution

Five Dangers of Poor Project Communication
By Andrew Grimes

Poor communication can kill projects. Here are solutions to five common communication pitfalls which, if left unchecked, can lead to big trouble.

  1. Needless information

    There are just too many ways in which needless information can distract us. Email, by its very nature, is a tool used to push information to one or multiple recipients. It therefore relies heavily on the sender to get the right information to the right people. Thus, it creates the frustration, familiar to us all, of being copied in on messages of no direct relevance.

    The solution

    A centrally stored, single place for all project communications, document sharing and collaboration – enabling team members to pull information from it and when it is needed.

  2. Information silos

    The opposite danger is that of not receiving or being able to access the information you need. Ever needed to access important emails in another user’s account?

    The solution

    Google wave looks towards a brave new world of online collaboration, arising out of the desire to model a communications tool on the capabilities of our current technologies rather than on historical non-electronic forms of communication. On a ‘wave’, documents don’t go back and forth – they evolve in real time!

  3. Interruptions

    Most office workers – if they are honest – would admit to scanning their emails the second they arrive in their inbox. We are surprisingly accepting of the fact that this means constant interruptions! Yet it is well known that interruptions impede productivity. Instant messaging, phone calls, impromptu desk visits all pose similar threats.

    The solution

    How about setting your email to check the server every hour, instead of every minute?

    With regards to the impromptu desk visits, growling is not the only solution. Why not treat yourself a set of traffic lights to let your colleagues know when you’re uninterruptible?

  4. Mistimed details

    Plans and specifications tend to change as you progress through a project. It is therefore important wherever possible to define the details of each project deliverable just before it is to be delivered. The alternative is to risk wasting significant time on thinking about details which will change by the time they are relevant.

    The solution

    Only produce detailed plans or specifications for work that is going to happen in the coming few weeks.

  5. Unfocused meetings

    Meetings can be highly toxic! How often have you sat in a meeting without being clear on what the meeting was trying to achieve? Even when agendas are circulated there is still a great likelihood that time will be wasted due to lack of focus or the wrong people being invited. Meetings are usually very expensive too; a 30 minute meeting with 7 attendees costs a half day!

    The solution

    1. Prepare well for meetings.
    2. Keep them as short as possible.
    3. Only invite the people who absolutely have to be there.


It is always sensible to agree appropriate checkpoints and communication channels at the outset of a project. Indeed, this is perhaps the all important first step to avoiding the dangers of poor project communication.

Andrew Grimes is a trained PRINCE2 Project Manager at Semantico with a degree in Philosophy and 5 years experience working in digital projects. Andrew blogs regularly at the discovery blog.

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2 people have left comments

Nice read! My pick of the lot would be point 4 :) No amount of efficiency can actually solve this one since you are being efficient on something that’s gonna change.

Revv wrote on December 30, 2009 - 6:00 am | Visit Link

All good points! I love the idea of purchasing traffic lights to let people know whether they can approach you or not. Those desk visits can start with a project related question but easily drift to something totally irrelevant. Not to say it’s not pleasant to chat with nice people, bit it can be a huge time suck.

As for points 1 and 2, I suggest using LiquidPlanner ( for project communication. LP is a great place to share documents, notes on specifics of the project, and just in general keep all relevant details in one place where all team members (and clients) can access it at any time.

Dina Garfinkel, PMP wrote on December 30, 2009 - 2:13 pm | Visit Link

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