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Where does communication intersect with continuous improvement? Often, it is when you discover that the reason projects are not finishing on time or running as smoothly as they could is because of poor communication.
Project communication is an essential aspect of success. Need proof? Just look at all of the tools and methods we use to increase communication:
- Status meetings
- Scheduling software
- Internal message and chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams
- Spreadsheets and project trackers
At what point do all of these communications "tools" become a burden? When do we lose track of all the status updates and realize that the project schedule is suffering as a result?
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw
Start with a Foundation of Communication
In a culture of continuous improvement, communication methods and standards are always being refined.
To improve your project communication, start by examining your project kickoff cycle. You may find that even after the "kick-off" phase is complete, team members are still struggling to establish communication lines and relationships. When critical relationships do not form during the earliest days of the project, momentum is lost, and the project does not begin with the enthusiastic start needed to propel the project forward. Instead, the project may be plagued by stalls and starts as team members struggle to establish a communication cadence.
Communication is the key to any global business. – Anita Roddick
Creating a Project Communication Plan
An involved and full-functioning Project Management Office provides the perfect vehicle for deploying communication standards and establishing new team member relationships. Tap into your PMO to create responsibility matrices for each project. When roles are clearly defined, it is easier to pinpoint the right person to contact, and it shows each member precisely where to focus their efforts.
The PMO can also help by crafting escalation documents so that when issues arise, there is a clear path to bring the problem to resolution as quickly as possible and with minimal impact to the project schedule or budget.
The PMO is an ideal place to start project relationships. The team is often responsible for allocating and supporting labor during the early phases of the project and serves as a central point to all connected resources; making it a natural place to start critical project relationships.
Communicating with Your PMO
In many ways, the PMO is like an on-fire tech support team; they hold many answers and will work tirelessly to support you so that you can support the project.
But what is the best way to get your requests into the PMO?
Consider implementing a help desk approach. Tools like Zendesk, Helpdesk, and Helpjuice provide streamlined access to all of the services offered through the PMO.
Each request is categorized by subject, such as education, communication, or client support, and then further classified by urgency. Requests that impact current projects are resolved quickly while those for continuing education and mentorship programs receive the time and attention they deserve. This approach keeps the PMO accessible while effectively managing the time and resources of the PMO.
Utilize your PMO to improve communication within your projects. If your organization has not yet implemented a PMO, partner with a company that already has a robust PMO in place. Doing so will allow your team members to benefit from PMO resources while providing an excellent model for building your own internal project management office.