Project Management

How to Navigate the Four Stages of Project Communication

Most people have seen a variation of the “Who’s on First” skit from Abbott and Costello. The premise is simple: Two people experience miscommunication about who is on the different bases on a baseball diamond, which leads to some funny results. While it can definitely be able to conjure up some laughs, miscommunication on a project can be frustrating and mean disaster for your project. In a post at Project News Today, Barry Hodge gives tips for these four stages of communication during a project:

  • Feasibility
  • Planning
  • Delivery
  • Closure

Unlocking the Communication Stages

Each one of these stages requires a different plan of attack. The first stage involves the feasibility of the project, and it requires you to determine who needs what kind of information at this stage:

The way you tackle these questions depends on your audience. All the low interest / low influence people need is a short email. The high interest / low power people might have lots of questions. A short question and answer session may be more appropriate for them. Send out an intriguing infographic to win over low interest / high power executives. The high interest / high power people are difficult to deal with as they need lots of attention. So, consider setting up a private forum or chatroom. Check in there every day to provide detailed updates and to answer questions.

The planning stage is pretty self-explanatory: This is the stage where the plan for the project is completed. Who is working on what, when it’ll be done, and other such questions need to be answered. Make sure this information is public knowledge so everyone involved can be on the same page. If people can review it prior to the project starting, they can ask questions or notify people of pending time off.

The delivery stage is when the project is underway and involves keeping everyone in-the-know on how things are progressing. Basically if anything from the original plan gets off track, this is the stage of communication where you’ll express it. When conveying this to people, make sure you include what caused any delays and updated timetable to complete the project. But don’t only focus on the negative aspects. Include project milestones or reference outstanding performance to balance the information out.

Wrapping up the four stages is closure, which is mainly about completing and evaluating the project. Lessons learned and a confirmation of the project’s completion should be sent out. You should also send out a public thank you to everyone involved so the stakeholders are aware. And a sponsor-signed form of all the complete and incomplete work should also be submitted when wrapping up work on a project. This officially finishes the project team’s involvement and shields them from further change requests.

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