How to communicate successfully during IT projects
Critical to the success of any given project, communication is a significant part of a team’s tasks from initial idea to the final word.
With a multi-faceted team made up of people with differing skills to manage, effective communication can sometimes be difficult to get right.
With the help of key insights from industry experts, we’ll guide you through the importance of communication as well as some steps to effectively leverage your communication abilities before your next big project.
Start from the top
If a sound communication plan begins at the top, then it’s more likely to trickle down to those underneath. Jim Phelan, Director at Fortis Greene says: “Start your IT Project communication from the most senior person you can find in the organisation. This will give the project gravitas from the outset. How and what you communicate to senior stakeholders, the project delivery team and end users will be different, so make sure this is considered and tailor accordingly.
“Be clear what the change involves, why it is happening, what the benefits are, when it will happen and what people can expect when it does. Utilise different communication channels – digital, team meetings, notice boards. Appoint local business champions to promote your change in their team or department and to help gauge what the overall feeling in the organisation is.”
Communication is a two-way process
In creating a flow of communication, it’s important for everyone on the team, from top to bottom, to be open and inclusive in their methods. Jim notes: “Communication is a two-way process – make sure there are feedback lines open to all. People will feel more engaged and they might have some great ideas! Design a project logo for all communications as people will instantly recognise the source and are more likely to pay attention. Use a countdown tool to the project live date and tailor communications with more specific detail as you get closer to launch.
“If things are not going to plan, then don’t stop communicating – people are much more likely to understand and support you if they are informed. For larger and complex IT project change consider using a full communications plan, but if not, at least have a plan to communicate!”
Make sure everyone understands
In a group project, it’s important that everyone on your team can understand your communication. Sukh Ryatt, MD at Oak says: “Often, a project will be made up of individuals from different backgrounds. For example, you may have a designer, a developer and a project manager working together, so it’s important to be respectful of each unique role within the project. Try to avoid using technical jargon that people from outside your expertise won’t understand, as this can be confusing. Also, recognise other people’s opinions and try not to take feedback to heart, you’re all working towards a common end goal and everyone should have their say to ensure the final product is sound.”
Streamline your communications tools
With so many tools to help smooth out your communication across projects, there’s never been a better time to leverage the use of apps to keep dialogue open and accessible, even if you’re out of the office.
Sikh says: “These days, there’s no excuse for poor communication or inefficient idea capture. Modern and (now) affordable tools, such as cloud-based intranet solutions, allow teams of any size to effortlessly set up online spaces to share news, plans and knowledge. These systems allow ideas to be captured and discussed in one place, without geographical limitations.
Likewise, David Goulden, product director at Clarizen notes: “Applications such as email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, and Slack have created a myriad of new ways of communicating in the workplace with the intention of making our lives easier.”
Amidst the stream of meeting requests, updates and alerts that can hamper productivity David offers five tips with which to help stay organised and ensure smooth communication during IT projects.
Provide a communication tool that ties workplace tasks to business functions and improves the coordination of workflow.
Integrate existing tools, such as Slack, with a more comprehensive collaborative platform to ensure communications align with tasks, deadlines, budgets and project updates.
Employ an end-to-end communication tool that provides full visibility across the full range of key deliverables, so employees can keep up-to-date on tasks without getting stuck in unnecessary catch-up emails, calls or meetings.
The time spent on project checkpoints and updates can quickly add up, so adopting a system that automates these processes helps ensure teams are as efficient and productive as possible.
Deploy a collaborative platform that updates information in real-time and provides workers at every level with an accurate view of progress on tasks, resources, deadlines and other key deliverables.
Following these five tips will help make communication during IT projects even easier, quicker and efficient.
With all these tools at your disposal making communication easy and successful, don’t forget about the importance of genuine human contact over the course of the project.
Sikh says: “Regardless of the medium used, it’s vital that project teams meet regularly to discuss its progress. When organising meetings, there should be a defined structure to reduce time wastage. Devising an agenda in advance and sharing it with the group beforehand is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. During the meeting, it helps to have a timekeeper to take notes and actions, which can be shared with everybody afterwards in a communal space. This is an efficient way to keep on top of the project’s progress.”
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