Part two of our series gives you practical steps to build a project transparency plan.
Project management communication plans must include transparency across all stakeholders to ensure the project moves forward as planned. This keeps stakeholders on task, on time, and on their toes. Project transparency plans allow you, as a small business owner or project manager, to hold everyone accountable to deadlines so that the project can move forward.
In fact, staffers and project managers prefer to have some type of collaboration software alongside their project management tools. We outlined this and other reasons to have project transparency in part one of our series about prioritizing transparency in project management planning, instead of making it an afterthought.
For part two, we’ll dive into key factors that make project management communication plans effective, the four steps to build an effective communication plan, and the tools to help set you up for success.
Within the broader scope of your PM (project management) strategy, your project management communication plan should focus on four key components of effective communication. Clear communication helps your internal teams stay on task and on time, leading to successful completion of a project.
Everyone should use the same communication channels for discussing projects while having equal access to them. For convenience, you can set up groups within messaging systems and name them according to the project category, stakeholder levels (managers, directors, team leads), types of tasks (research and development, prototyping, engineering), or team names (tiger, lion, platypus).
For instance, you can set up email groups within your system that send messages to each member of the team for discussion. For an easier way to communicate, plenty of live chat software options allow groups to talk simultaneously.
What results or objectives are you trying to achieve? What are the end goals of each task your stakeholders must perform to keep the project moving forward? Communication among stakeholders must reference a particular task, so everyone understands what is being referenced to meet the task objectives and get results.
The audience who sees the message must have the meaning conveyed to them as simply as possible. This is important because internal stakeholders and external stakeholders may not have the same levels of involvement in the project. You might designate who contacts who when you outline the project management communication plan.
Let’s say the project manager meets with the client’s board of directors once a month. The manager should deliver messaging that they will understand easily, without getting into too much detail, while being able to speak on any written reports disseminated at that time.
Messages to stakeholders must convey meaning with minimal friction and clear, simple meaning as much as possible. Why? So the people receiving the message can take appropriate action if necessary.
Ready to create a transparent project management communication plan?
Consider using agile methodology and integrated project management methods. Every project manager has a different approach to managing the project lifecycle. In our survey[*], we found that only 17% of managers rely solely on agile methods, whereas 51% believe in integrated project management methods. Combining both achieves better results.
Choose a document format or tool to house the plan
Project management software choices abound. With more than 1,350 available, you can choose one that fits your needs if you don’t already have one. The right software makes collaboration easy, with straightforward communication channels and alert systems.
PM software with comprehensive platforms features automation that can move timelines forward automatically when tasks are complete, while tracking time on tasks and projects. Choose one that’s easy to use and has reporting capabilities.
Everyone within a project should understand each team member’s role within a project management system. You can outline this in a planning document that everyone reviews during a stakeholder-wide meeting to start the project. The reason for the meeting is for people to ask questions such as, “Who do I report to if X happens?” Hold regular meetings after the initial kickoff for questions and answers because you never know who may need to hear them.
Plan for variables and flexibility
Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
No matter how well you lay out your plans, something will go wrong or, at least, suggest a different course of action. That’s why you need to plan for variables and flexibility within a project’s framework. Deadlines should be adhered to as much as possible, but allow some wiggle room throughout the project for unforeseen circumstances, such as people leaving the company or clients/customers with pushback.
Set an update and communication schedule that aligns with milestones
In addition to regular meetings, hold update meetings when teams meet certain milestones. These are important to communicate to all stakeholders to make sure everyone knows what the next steps are and what needs to happen next.
Digital tools can enable your project management communication plan by giving it a practical framework for people, including remote teams, to chat, submit documents, make revisions, set deadlines, and send deliverables.
Look for fully integrated project management platforms that have shared calendars that everyone can see, chat portals for team discussions, video conferencing capabilities, file sharing, and automated alerts for task completion.
Your transparency pays off when everyone is in the same project and on the same page. Take a look at our top five project management solutions for project visualization as one possible choice.
Leveraging the correct tools and four practical steps mentioned above lets you achieve transparency among stakeholders from start to finish. Your team will finish projects on time while meeting or exceeding expectations, and with higher levels of customer satisfaction, you and your company will experience greater success and continue to grow.
* Capterra’s Project Management User Survey was conducted in March 2021 among 422 U.S.-based project managers. The qualified respondents are decision-makers or have significant involvement with the day-to-day project management at their organization. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.
- Quote by Dwight Eisenhower, Goodreads