The success of a project manager largely lies in the individual’s ability to communicate. Some project managers have great oratory skills but don’t ask the right questions at the right time.
Here are some key questions for each of the project management process groups (PMBOK). This is not meant to be a comprehensive list; just some questions to get you thinking. Neither will you need to ask all of these questions for every project.
Keep in mind, the project process groups are seldom sequential, one-time events; they are overlapping activities that occur throughout the project.
Photo courtesy of iStock.com.
Initiating Process Group
Why are we doing this project?
Is your project sponsor fully engaged and on board?
What is the authority level of the project manager?
What do we wish to accomplish?
What are the products and services we wish to deliver?
What are the budget constraints?
What are the schedule constraints?
What assumptions are being made?
Who will be impacted? Which stakeholders have the greatest interest and power?
1. You think small projects are simple. In general, smaller projects have less risk. However, some small projects touch a complex set of variables.
Be sure to analyze the complexity of the project. For example, you may engage your team to draw a context diagram and/or a data flow diagrams early in the project. This exercise allows the team to understand the context of the project.Continue reading
Communications can be daunting for large, complex programs and projects. Project managers live or die with communications.
How can we ensure stakeholders get the right information, at the right time, and in the right manner?
Grab a cup of coffee or tea. Allow me to share a story and the lessons learned.
It Takes A Village To Deliver A Program
Once upon a time, I helped managed a program to implement several new software applications and build interfaces to third parties. The program was comprised of 45 project teams with more than 150 people. Many individuals worked on two to four projects concurrently.
Company and vendor resources included program managers, project managers, business analysts, developers, testers, mainframe resources, network resources, and many department resources. The vendor resources rotated on site a week and off site a week.
Why Communicating Is More Challenging With Larger Teams
For every person added to a program or project, the complexity of communications increases exponentially. For 125 people, there are 7,750 communication channels. For 150 people, there are 11,175 communication channels.
The number of communication channels can be calculated as: [N (N–1)] / 2 where N equals the number of people. (Tweet This!)
For this reason, wise program and project managers keep their teams small and ramp up communications when larger teams are necessary. Let’s look at some ways to improve communications and our chance for success.
What Did I Learn From The Software Program?
Knight a Communications Manager. We assigned a Communications Manager early in the program. This was not a full time position, but there was one person who consistently focused on communications.
Develop and Maintain a Communication Plan. The Program Manager worked with the Communications Manager to define and maintain a Communication Plan.
Communicate Through Multiple Channels. In our program, we needed to communicate to more than 1,000 people in our home office and remote offices. We delivered the message through multiple channels: meetings, newsletters, emails, internal blog, and recorded video – you get the idea.
Focus on Interdependent Relationships. Project Managers and their teams tend to live in silos. We must be intentional to ask how our work will impact others. During our enterprise program, we had a weekly meeting for this purpose. The Program Manager asked the Project Managers to help identify dependencies, discuss related risks, and develop plans.
Maintain Risks and Issues Registers. The Program Manager and the Project Managers should maintain their Issues and Risks Registers. When possible, make these registers available to all Project Managers. The transparency aids with communication.
Enhance Virtual Communications. Program and Project Managers should utilize appropriate tools such as web conferencing, teleconferencing, and project management information systems to facilitate virtual communications.
Question: What are the top two to three things you have seen work when it comes to improving communications for large projects or programs? Share your constructive comments below!