In the new era of IT, the project manager becomes a project leader. But as Bryan Nielson prefaces in an article for Wired’s Innovation Insights, poor communication, the apparent Achilles heel of project management, is getting in the way.
The Achilles Heel of Project Managers
Nielson writes that over a half billion dollars in business losses can be traced to poor communication when dealing with IT projects:
Communicating with senior management has never been more critical. Fifty-five percent of surveyed project managers agree that effective communication, especially to project stakeholders and senior management, is the number one factor in a project’s success.
When it comes to executing a project effectively, senior management wants visibility and awareness from the PM. What they often get instead are one or a combination of three main problems associated with communication breakdown.
- Delivering Inaccurate Metrics
- Overlooking Available Resources
- Keeping Methodologies in Silos
Scattered and disorganized project information can leave project managers scrambling to deliver the correct metrics to superiors, with legitimate ad hoc work never appearing in the records to begin with. Disorganization and deadline drain have the potential to distract employees from using their own work resources. Furthermore, if teams are using a mix of methodologies, for instance Waterfall vs. Agile, it may be difficult to create meaningful and comprehensive status updates.
By using a centralized reporting method for both planned and ad hoc work, such as spreadsheets, PM tools, or an in/out box, the PM can isolate and combine metrics in one location for easy access and transference. By comparing an inventory of a team’s abilities against new work requests, it is possible to communicate the current resource requirements of the project team. And when the language of contrasting methodologies makes it difficult to convey pertinent information, set the report terms in plain English for communication’s sake.
Remember that proper communication is the difference between a failed project and a successful one, happy employees or staff who quit, and senior managers who are in the loop or out of touch.