Worst Practices Tip #2:
Minimal communication between team members will usually suffice.
The communication between team members on a project is a vital component throughout the entire development life cycle and can be the difference between a project’s success or failure. The importance of a project manager’s ability to communicate to team members cannot be overstated. Each team member’s role and responsibilities should be made clear and expectations should be agreed upon from the outset of the project. Ambiguity surrounding roles and responsibilities will likely cause unnecessary interpersonal friction, duplicated effort and delays in the project’s development, so it’s best if these issues are addressed at the start of a project.
A comprehensive Project Communication Plan is a useful tool in letting everyone in (especially stakeholders) on information about a project and its status. Project Communications Plans should address the issues of the recipients of information, the type information that should be conveyed, the delivery method and frequency, and who is responsible for delivering the information. Keep in mind that different phases of the project may necessitate additional types of communication (and some may no longer be relevant). Successful project managers make sure everyone involved in the project is 100% clear about important metrics such as project status, milestones and deliverables at regular intervals. Don’t fall into the all-to-common trap of thinking that the team is working too hard or is too busy to have a meeting to discuss these issues.
Tracking and monitoring a project’s progress is an important responsibility of the project manager during every phase of the project. What tools should be used to track and monitor a project (as well as how to communicate this information) can vary from project to project depending on factors such as the project’s scope, schedule and team size. Remember that the goal should always be to provide clear information to your audience, so don’t automatically settle for the method that you used on your last few projects just for the sake of convenience.
While email communication is a convenient method to communicate with team members, it may not always be the most effective means for delivering important product information. Formally scheduled meetings, video conferences, impromptu face-to-face meetings, Internet-based tools and intranet sites should also be considered when appropriate. Be sure to encourage an open environment where feedback and questions are encouraged (and timely answers are provided). A good rule of thumb is that the more transparent the reporting of project information is, the better for the team and the project itself. Too often the tendency is to hide bad news about a project’s status, which can result in reducing the number of possible ways the problem can be addressed. When communication breakdowns occur, frustration, resentment and finger-pointing are a common result and team morale is likely to suffer.
While project communication must be a collective effort of everyone on the team, the project manager is critically important to this process and should always try to lead by example. The more that information is frequently communicated clearly and without ambiguity, the higher the likelihood that the project will run more smoothly.