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At DAC.digital, Radek performs the role of Head of Growth and executes growth and business strategies for one of Europe’s fastest-growing software and AI companies. With over 14 years of experience in the IT industry, he has helped numerous clients and partners achieve their digital transformation goals and create value for their end customers.
Mastering Project Communication
I mentioned the importance of communication in projects many times in my Software Development Insights newsletter – as an aspect of a successful software project and as part of an outsourcing relationship. But what exactly means to “communicate properly”?
Justyna Pelc, Head of Communications, and Krzysztof Gola, General Manager Software, two of my teammates, interviewed on the subject a while ago. I believe it is vital to relay their brief but valuable conversation.
[Justyna] I’ve been hearing a lot about communication in general and, what’s interesting, its importance in project management. Could you please tell me what you think about it? And why do you think it’s important?
[Krzysztof] Communication is incredibly important in everyday life, family, loved ones, and work, especially in Delivery. Without proper communication, we wouldn’t be able to coordinate Projects. We can have great skills and perform individual tasks very well, but without proper communication, the Project as a whole won’t succeed!
It’s essential to establish an appropriate communication plan in every Project, not only with the Client but also with the Teams. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about an agile or waterfall approach. For example, let’s say we’re preparing to start Project “A.” It’s essential to properly and correctly communicate what the goal of Project A is.
[Justyna] Do you think communicating the goal is also so important?
[Krzysztof] Very good question! Let’s take the simplest example: I’m going somewhere. But why should I go somewhere if I don’t know where I should arrive? And if I don’t know where I want to arrive, do I even want to arrive somewhere? Why do I want to go? Should I go just because everyone else is going somewhere? It’s the same with IT Projects or any other areas. A properly formulated project goal addresses identified needs and problems. It should relate to the critical issue to be solved through the Project. Otherwise, what sense would it make for us to do the Project?
All individuals or team members involved in the Project should be aware of the Project’s goal they are participating in. That’s why it’s very important to communicate it properly. Did I answer your question?
[Justyna] Yes, definitely.
[Krzysztof] Continuing… defining and communicating the goal is just one example, but there are other important communication aspects. We need to establish how we want to communicate with the Team, even in the context of work progress. In what way, how often, and at what time. In what manner do we want to communicate problems that arise in the Project, and who should be informed about them to make decisions about appropriate corrective actions as quickly as possible. The same goes for communication with Project sponsors and stakeholders. The communication or communication plan should be clearly defined from the very beginning.
During the Project kick-off, we should present a clear plan of how we want to communicate in this Project, what tools we want to use for this purpose, how often, who should participate, etc…
Notice we have a number of different methodologies and approaches to Project management to achieve the goal or value, all based on appropriate ceremonies or events. They all have one common denominator – COMMUNICATION – without proper communication, achieving the goal will be difficult, if not impossible!
[Justyna] Thank you very much. If you could provide five tips regarding communication in Projects, what would they be?
[Krzysztof] It often depends on the Projects, their complexity, Teams, the number of Teams, the Client, and the Stakeholders. However, if I were to summarize and list it:
- Establish a communication plan with the Team: Discuss with the Team when the daily meeting will take place, how much time will be allocated for planning, retrospectives, and grooming, what tool will be used for internal communication, and how absences (planned and unplanned) will be reported – so that nobody has to wonder during the project implementation, as it will be too late.
- Establish a communication plan with the Client, Sponsor, and Stakeholders. This is an important element often overlooked in favor of “we’ll figure it out somehow” or “we’ll communicate in the meantime.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Establish this at the very beginning of the Project and then adjust as needed.
- Decide when you want to meet with the Client, how often, what will be discussed at your meetings, and who should participate. This way, the Client and Stakeholders will be informed appropriately during the project implementation. A common mistake is not establishing a “point of contact” on the Client’s side. This can later cause some communication “chaos.” Sometimes, the Client needs to figure out who should respond on their side. Establish this at the very beginning.
- Communicate fully transparently, based on facts. There’s no point in “sweeping things under the rug” – it will come out anyway! Communicating transparently also builds trust with the Client, without which there would be no further Projects; if you have an “uncomfortable” message to deliver, present recommendations on how to solve the problem immediately.
- Don’t delay communication. If you have something to communicate and are prepared, do it immediately. Don’t postpone it. Waiting “for later” usually won’t help and may even harm the context of the Project! It doesn’t matter what and to whom you communicate. Make sure the other party has received the message correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask if the other party understood what you said. Sometimes it’s even worth asking them to repeat it in their own words. They will have much more confidence that the message was received correctly, and you will avoid potential confusion in the future.
Yes, we often think everything we say or communicate is clear and understandable to the recipient. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Misunderstandings” usually come up later, and it turns out that someone didn’t understand something or interpreted the message in their way.
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