November 20, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

How to achieve Customer Satisfaction with Project Communications Management

Project Communications Management Case Study

While I was an IT project manager at a corporate insurance company, we were approached for a printing solution that would provide:   Project Communications best practices for Project Delivery

  • improved network printing performance,
  • 100% uptime and
  • failover (setup of 2 servers, if one server fails, the other server takes over) in order for the printing service to be always available.

The solution that we proposed was too expensive. It would involve procurement of expensive hardware and software and the customer didn’t have enough budget provision.

Accepted printing solution

We then proposed a scaled down customized solution, using existing hardware and software with some upgrade to RAM and disc space and a different architecture design. This proposal was accepted by the customer and the project could start.

Initially it was estimated to be a 3-month project, but it took 5 months to complete due to many unforeseen problems. Even though this was one of my troubled projects, I managed to have a satisfied customer who was happy with the end result.

How did we achieve stakeholder satisfaction?

In all honesty, I would attribute the success of the project to following project communications management best practices. We had a communications plan which attributed to building a very committed project team, as well as a supportive customer.

The team met for progress meetings weekly and minutes and progress reports were distributed afterwards.  The customer was well informed throughout the project and we had 2-weekly feedback sessions with the customer as planned in the communications plan. Consistency with information distribution and performance reporting was key.

Through my regular verbal and written communications, I built trust with the customer who accepted the problems (risks that became issues) and delays that we experienced as we kept it totally transparent. Change requests were submitted to obtain approval for changes and the consequent impact on the timeline. The engineers who were part of the project team persevered and kept going while having to resolve many issues, as they were clear about the end goal of the project. The project team members acquired good skills while working on the project, which they, as well as the project manager, could reference in their future careers.

Project communications management as a best practice

As you can see from this case study example, it is sticking to simple best practices in project communications management that will enhance your chances for successful projects significantly. In this instance we delivered the project to budget and with quality, but in spite of being ‘late’, we managed the stakeholder’s expectations and achieved customer satisfaction at the end. This is why I think this case study is a good example of the difference that project communications management best practices can make.

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Project Communications Management Best Practices

Project Communications Management – Main Piece of the Puzzle?

Project Communications Management Best Practice audio

project communications management

As part of the project management best practices posts, project communications management is a topic that is close to my heart. Project communications management is probably the main piece of the puzzle when it comes to best practices for running successful projects. I know that it has been one of the best reasons for my track record of successful projects.

It is an accepted fact that communications will take up about 90% of a project manager’s time. This is the reason why I start with project communications management as a best practice and excellent communication skills are at the top of the list for a skilled project manager.

What is project communications management?

In theory project communications management is about appropriate generation, collection, storage and distribution of project information. During the project planning it requires determining the information and communications needs of stakeholders, during execution it is about distributing the information in a timely manner, doing status reporting and progress measurement, during closure it is about gathering information to formalize project completion.  How is all of this applied in practice?

This is where you must pay special attention…

When is project communications management a best practice? project communications management

For project communications management to be used as a best practice, it needs to be applied in a regular, consistent manner throughout the life cycle of a project, from initiation, to planning, during execution, controlling and closing. Project communications management must be done to the point where it becomes a routine task on the project. It keeps all stakeholders well informed and gives them the re-assurance that the project is in good hands. (That is what project managers are paid for, not true?)

Project communications management in 4 simple steps

1. Project communications management needs to be planned for:

  • Who needs what project information?
  • When do they need it?
  • How will the information be given?
  • By whom?

Document in your communications management plan which information will be written, which will be oral (progress meetings, presentations), whether it is formal or informal. How will information be stored and distributed. The communications management plan is part of the overall project plan and can be as simple as a one-page communications matrix to a detailed communications plan depending on the size and complexity of the project.

2. How will information be distributed?

Information distribution is about making information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner. It deals with how the information will be stored, shared and exchanged (written, oral, internal, external, formal and informal, etc)

3. Report on performance

Performance reporting is to provide stakeholders with information about project status, progress and forecasting. It generally provides information on scope, schedule, cost and quality, as well as on risk and procurement where applicable.

4. Project is done and how do you communicate that?

Project administrative closure is a neglected aspect of Project communications management, but this is where project results are reviewed and documented. This is where project success is analyzed, lessons learned are discussed and archived. communications management skills

Make project communications management your strong point

Following this project communications management best practice, will lead to a well structured project and a consistent performance by the project manager. If you practice your project communications management skills, you will be well on your way to be an efficient project management professional.

In my next post I will share a case study to illustrate that applying project communications management as a best practice, will inevitably lead to a successful project.  Please subscribe to my RSS if you don’t want to miss the project management best practices future blog posts.
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