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Friday, December 16, 2011

Chapter 23: Communications Management During Project Execution



Aim: To understand the following two Communication Management related processes
• Distribute information
• Manage stakeholder expectations

Communicating with the project team, and with any other stakeholders, is one of the project manager’s most important tasks. In fact, a project manager spends the majority of his time communicating. Some say as much as 90% of a project manager’s time is spent communicating. Exchanging information is the only way a project manager can know how the project is progressing. The distribute information process keeps stakeholders informed. This includes communication outlined in the communication plan as well as responding to ad-hoc requests. The communication must be both timely and accurate.

The table below shows the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs for the distribute information process.

Distribute Information
Inputs Tools & Techniques Outputs

Project management plan
Performance reports
Organizational process assets

Communication methods
Information distribution tools

Organizational process assets updates
Communication management is a crucial topic due to both its importance to the smooth operation of the project team and its complexity.

Communication Channels

Based on the number of people in a team, the number of communication channels would vary. The total number of channels increases exponentially as the number of individuals in the team increases. The number of channels can be calculated as:

No. of Channels = N * (N – 1) / 2

Where N is the number of people in the team.

For ex:
For 3 people = 3 * (2) / 2 = 3
For 4 people = 4 * (3) / 2 = 6
For 5 people = 5 * (4) / 2 = 10
For 6 people = 6 * (5) / 2 = 15

As you can see, when the team doubled in size from 3 to 6, the number of channels went up 5 times from 3 to 15.

Exam Watch:
You must be able to calculate the number of communication channels given the number of team members. Don’t be in a hurry to use the formula. Sometimes, the question maybe like: “Team A had 3 members last week and 3 more people joined this week. How many new communication channels were created?”. If you use the formula in a hurry you will end up with 15 as the answer and unfortunately it will be a choice as well. But the question isnt about the total number of channels but the new channels. So, the answer will be 12 (the increased number). Be careful while answering such questions.

Tools and Techniques for Distributing Information

Did you see “Communication Methods” and “Information Distribution Tools” in the Tools & Techniques section of the previous table? If not, I suggest you go back and scan through the table before proceeding further.

Both Communication Method and Information distribution tools are used in the Distribute Information process.

Communication Methods

Communication methods are a part of general management skills. Communication is comprised of a sender, a receiver, and the communication channel. The sender is responsible for making the message clear and accurate. The receiver is responsible for understanding the message. Communication can include the following:
• Written and oral
• Listening and speaking
• Internal and external
• Formal and informal
• Vertical and horizontal

Issues can result if communications are not managed effectively on the project. For example, because email cannot easily convey emotions, an email could be sent with a comment meant to be sarcastic, but the receiver doesn’t understand that and is upset based on the content of the email. The project manager should plan out communications to avoid these types of issues, including the best method for delivering messages based on the audience and content.

Information Distribution Tools

The project manager must ensure that information is effectively collected and distributed to project stakeholders. There are a number of tools to accomplish this:
• Face-to-face project meetings
• Virtual meetings using conference bridges, web conferencing, or video conferencing
• Distribution and filing of printed documents
• Shared access to electronically filed documents and document repository tools
• Email and fax
• Telephone and voice mail
• Access to project scheduling and other project management tools

To know more about the Distribute Information process Click Here

Manage Stakeholder Expectations

A good project manager must do more than just send out timely status updates. In addition to keeping the team informed and ensuring all stakeholders have the necessary information, the project manager must also manage the impact of the information. It is important that the stakeholders remain committed to the project. One of the project manager’s jobs is to recognize and shift in stakeholder commitment and react in an effective manner. The manage stakeholder expectations process addresses exactly that.

The table below shows the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs for the manage stakeholder expectations process.

Manage Stakeholder Expectations
Inputs Tools & Techniques Outputs

Stakeholder register
Stakeholder management strategy
Project management plan
Issue log
Change log
Organizational process assets updates

Communication methods
Interpersonal skills
Management skills

Organizational process updates
Change requests
Project management plan updates
Project document updates
Notice that the tools and techniques exclusively address the issues of interacting with other people. That’s what managing stakeholders is all about. It is the job of the project manager to ensure all of the stakeholders continue to contribute in a material manner to the success of the project.

To know more about the Manage Stakeholder Expectations process Click Here

Prev: Chapter 22

Next: Chapter 24

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