This paper focuses on the importance of communication in project management. Nothing is more important to the success of a project than effective communication. More effective communication = Better project management is obviously known to everyone in project management, but we do face difficulties in implementing it due to various factors like the nature of the project, structure of the organization etc. About 90% of the time in a project is spent on communication by the project manager. If this continues in a project, there is a danger of missing the deliverables or other outcomes as required by the sponsor. This paper highlights more specific details like, what communication means in a project, the steps required for effective communication, the major obstacles in communication, how to overcome obstacles through communication sharing, the importance of communications in diverse work groups and provides a four-step process for effective communication explained with a case study. As all of us know, communication is not an absolute, finite thing. Developing an effective communication plan is explained in steps on how to identify communication requirements: 5Ws (What, Why, Who, Where, When) and 1H (How). Enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets are also described. So in short, if the steps outlined in this paper are considered and followed, more time would be saved for the project manager. Therefore, he or she can concentrate on other loopholes and successfully complete the project.
Communication—The Life Blood
Communication is an essential process in our day-to-day life, and the entire world revolves around it. Lasswell's Maxim defines communication as “who says what to whom in what channel with what effect”. Communication is exchanging of information from one point of the project to the other point in an efficient manner. Like this, there are various definitions and concepts about communication in today's world. However, how important is this communication in project management, we can say that this is “Project—Life Blood” as everything in a project is based on how efficiently we perform this. Communication is an essential tool in the field of project management. It is gaining importance everyday and is the center of all management processes soon. The success of a project largely depends on the efficiency of its communication network. It starts working from day one of the venture and continues for the entire life span of the project. It provides regular updates to notify the status of the project as well as its performance capacity. But surprisingly, it has been found that most projects experience a breakdown in communications. It has been said that 90% of a project manager's time is spent communicating what is going to be done. This paper details what communication means in a project, the steps required for effective communication, the major obstacles in communication, how to overcome obstacles through communication sharing, the importance of communications in diverse work groups, and a four-step process for effective communication.
Communication—Project Management Starts With a Big “C”
The word communication comes from the Latin word communis, which means common. When we communicate, we are trying to establish “commonness” with someone. That is, we are trying to share information, an idea, or an attitude among the team involved in that particular project.
One can never take for granted that the receiver will interpret the message the same way as the sender intended it. Communication is not an absolute, finite thing. To do this effectively, the project manager needs to consider all the factors like the different realities, the space the communication takes place in, verbal as well as non-verbal messages, and the intended meaning versus the perceived meaning, etc. Figure 1 depicts the cost of bad communication.
Therefore, the communication process needs to be efficient and effective.
Understanding the Communications Process
To communicate effectively, project managers must have a good understanding of the communications process.
To understand the communications process, project managers must understand all the relevant factors.
- The communications process requires a sender and receiver. The sender formulates the message to communicate, which is meant for a receiver. The sender creates the content with some intent in mind. The receiver, of course, receives the message and then deals with it according to personal reactions. He or she may accept, revise, or reject the message. For example, a project manager informs the customer that a slide on a major milestone will occur and provides reasons. The customer, in turn, may make a decision based upon that information.
- The communications process requires a medium to communicate the content of a message. The medium may take just about any form, each unique in its ability to influence the receptivity of the receiver. As with the message itself, the receiver may elect to accept or reject the medium employed. The receiver may even elect to alter the medium so that he or she can receive and interpret the message according to his or her preferences. In the earlier example with the schedule slide, a project manager may send the message as e-mail rather than have a face-to-face meeting with the customer.
- The communications process requires a message. The message can take many different forms, usually in hard or soft format. The hard format is usually written on paper whereas soft format is electronic. Regardless of the format, a message is necessary to initiate a communication and stimulate a relationship between two or more people. In the previously mentioned example, the message is that the project will slide a major milestone and it is sent in a soft (e.g., electronic) format.
- The communications process requires feedback between the sender and receiver. Feedback may be positive, negative, or neutral, indicating the receptivity of the sender or receiver. Feedback can also be simple or complex. Simple feedback occurs when it involves just two people; complex feedback is when the process involves three or more people. The movement from simple to complex is because the number of channels and opportunities for misinterpretation increase geometrically as each one codes their message and the other decodes the same. In the last example, the customer gives negative feedback in soft copy format but suggests a follow-up meeting to discuss the results.
- The communications process is rarely “clean,” meaning that what the recipient receives may not be necessarily what the sender sent. A number of variables can affect the quality of a message including the following: beliefs, values, the emotional impact of a message, and the medium employed. These variables and others often referred to as “noise,” can affect the degree of receptivity of a message and the feedback on the part of the sender or receiver. For example, the sender may not really believe in a message he or she formulates, but this person may be compelled to send it; the content of the message and its mode of delivery may influence the quality of the message and, ultimately, its receptivity. For example, a project manager may decide to communicate via e-mail rather than in person to key stakeholders. The reason may be to avoid direct conflict with the recipients of the message due to the personalities involved.
- The communications process will always be in a setting or context that influences results. This context often involves time, space, and structure. Time may refer to the day of the week. Space may be as simple as the location of a person, or it may involve a project spread over a wide geographical area. Structure may be the organizational network in place for supporting the communications process of a project. For example, a project manager may want to communicate negative information about a schedule performance only in a specific setting, such as a project status review. Understanding the influence and interplay of the different variables involved requires a deep appreciation of these elements: sender and receiver, message, medium, feedback, variables, and setting.
The basic communication model is explained here using fax machine as an example,
Figure 2 explains how communication moves from one person to another. If we imagine each portion of the model as a fax machine, it would be easier to visualize the components.
Sender: This refers to the person who first initiates the communication. Let's say a document related to the project is being faxed by the project manager.
Encoder: This device encodes the message to be sent. In this case, it is the fax machine.
Medium: This is the device or technology to transport the message between the encoder and the decoder. Here it is the telephone line.
Decoder: This device decodes the message to be received. Here it is the fax machine itself.
Receiver: This refers to the person who receives the communication finally. The receiver may interpret the information, make a comment, and send it back to the sender.
Feedback: The communication may be disrupted by noise and misinterpret the message. A part of the message may be faded out or discolored etc. This would have been caused by the distortion of phone line.
Similarly, there may be many reasons for misinterpretation of information within the project team. In order to avoid this, each project manager should follow some basic steps to be effective in this communication process. Let us see how in the further sections.
Effective Communication Steps: To Keep Communication Alive
Communication is a vital element of a well-managed project. There are two main groups of people with whom the project manager needs to ensure clear and effective communication, the stakeholders and the project team. Every project will be sponsored by a part of the business with a stake in the outcome. They will likely be represented on the project board, which sets the objectives for the project and monitors progress over time. The project board will include others with a stake in the outcome, for example, those who will need to implement the project outcomes and those who will need to supply resource once the project outcomes have been met. All of these stakeholders will need regular updates, and it is imperative that communication with them is regular, clear and complete.
In addition, projects often involve the need for the project manager to coordinate the work of a large group of people working on different aspects of the project (often referred to as work streams). The project manager is required to ensure that everyone is clear about what he or she must achieve and he or she also needs to clearly report on progress to the project board and/or project sponsors. There are many opportunities for things to go badly wrong if an effective communication is not established and maintained.
The following steps will help the project manager to communicate effectively,
An Effective Communications Plan in Place is the Key
Based on stakeholder analysis, the project manager and the project team can determine the communications that are needed. There is no advantage of supplying stakeholders with information that isn't needed or desired, and the time spent creating and delivering such information is a waste of resources.
A communications management plan can organize and document the process, types, and expectations of communications. It provides the following:
- The stakeholder communications requirements in order to communicate the appropriate information as demanded by the stakeholders.
- Information on what is to be communicated. This plan includes the expected format, content, and detail—thinks project reports versus quick e-mail updates.
- Details on how needed information flows through the project to the correct individuals. The communication structure documents where the information will originate, to whom the information will be sent, and in what modality the information is acceptable.
- Appropriate methods for communicating include e-mails, memos, reports, and even press releases.
- Schedules of when the various types of communication should occur. Some communications, such as status meetings, should happen on a regular schedule, while other communications may be prompted by conditions within the project.
- Escalation processes and timeframes for moving issues upwards in the organization when they can't be solved at lower levels.
- Methods to retrieve information as needed.
- Instructions on how the communications management plan can be updated as the project progresses.
- A project glossary.
The communications plan may also include information and guidelines for project status meetings, team meetings, e-meetings (that's electronic meetings, not meetings about the letter e), and even e-mail. Setting expectations for communications and meetings early in the project establishes guidelines for the project team and stakeholders.
Four Steps Process for Effective Communication
Identify Communication Requirements
The project manager and the project team work together to identify who needs what information. In other words, project management needs to know what the requirements of successful communications are in order to plan on how to achieve those requirements.
First, the team to whom communication is essential needs to be determine the number of channels of communication possible using the communication formula as illustrated in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth Edition (Project Management Institute [PMI]. 2008) This is a very simple equation that any good program and project manager should know which is: N(N-1)/2.
Using the formula, let us take an example with a small project team of five people where the formula calculates that there are 10 possible channels of communication as:
5(5-1)/2 = 5(4)/2 = 20/2 = 10. So the project manager must ensure that five people on th team are communicating real time, and that there are no gaps in everyone's' understanding that they need to manage only 10 communication channels among the team.
Stakeholders will need different types of information, depending on their interest in project and the priority of the project. The project manager will need to complete the analysis of the identified stakeholders to determine what information they actually need as well as how often the information is needed. The project manager and the project team can identify the demand for communications using the following,
- Organization charts,
- The project structure within the performing organization,
- Stakeholder responsibility relationships,
- Departments and disciplines involved within the project work,
- The number of individuals involved in the project and their locales,
- Internal and external information needs, and
- Stakeholder information.
1. Identify the 5Ws (Why, What, When, Where, Who) and 1H (How)
- Who needs to be communicated to. This is based on the communication formula and needs to be determined.
- What needs to be communicated. All information related to the project need not be communicated to everyone in the team.
- When it should be communicated. The timeline of communication should be monitored.
- Where should it be communicated. If the team involves many people, then individual level and team level communications needs to be resolved.
- Why communication of information is essential and to what level is important. Why is it not encouraged as it is blame rather than change.
- How the communication needs to be done. Is it conducted via e-mail, phone, or a presentation done to the team members?
2. Identify and Accommodate the Enterprise Environmental Factors
Much of the communications management processes are linked to the enterprise environmental factors. Enterprise environmental factors that affect project communications are as follows:
- Organizational culture and structure,
- Standard and regulations the project must comply with,
- The logistics and the organizational infrastructure,
- The human resources the project will rely on and interact with,
- The policies and procedures for personnel administration,
- The project's work authorization system,
- The marketplace conditions,
- Stakeholder risk tolerances,
- Commercial databases that the project may use for estimating, and
- Project management information system.
These enterprise factors should be identified and reviewed and the project manager should align his or her project initiative considering all of these factors.
3. Identify Organizational Process Assets
The organizational process assets affect how the project manager, project team, and the stakeholders will communicate within a project. The primary organizational process assets that affect communication include the following:
- Standards and policies unique to the organization;
- Organizational guidelines, work instructions and performance measurement criteria;
- Organizational communication requirements for all projects considering required and approved technology, security issues, archiving and allowed communication media;
- Project closure requirements;
- Financial controls and procedures;
- Issue and defect management procedures for all projects;
- Change control procedures;
- Risk control procedures;
- Work authorization systems;
- Process measurement database;
- Project file structure, organization, and retention;
- Historical information and lessons learned requirements;
- Issue and defect management databases;
- Configuration management databases; and
- Project financial databases detailing labor hours, costs, budget issues, and cost overruns.
These process assets may be unique for each organization, but if this is reviewed before the initiation of the project and reflected in the communication to the team, then there will never be a problem throughout the project.
What are the Major Obstacles in Communication?
In order to understand major obstacles that come a long way in a project, it is essential to know the interfaces any project may have. The interfaces are as follows:
- Between organizations (e.g., customer-supplier);
- Between departments within an organization (e.g., marketing-IT);
- Between teams within a department (e.g., testers-developers); and
- Within distributed teams (e.g., part of the team is in Seattle and the other in Sydney).
The main communication obstacles (across interfaces listed earlier) can be drilled down to the following three broad areas:
- Political: Whenever there are many groups involved, there is the possibility of vested interests and power games getting in the way of dialogue. Such political obstacles usually originate in the upper ranks of an organizational hierarchy, a step or two above levels at which projects are planned and executed. Project managers therefore need to make special efforts to be aware of the key political players in the organization. In traditional corporate environments, these might be functional or senior-level managers who are not always obvious project stakeholders.
Once the political players have been identified, the project manager should take steps to gain their confidence and buy-in on project goals. This should help eliminate political barriers to project communications. It is best to settle political issues at the level where they originate; escalating political problems up the hierarchy (i.e., to the manager's manager) generally does not help, and may even be counterproductive.
- Cultural: Organizational culture, which is essentially the totality of assumptions and values commonly held within an organization need to be dealt with. Clearly, this can vary considerably between organizations—some may be more open than others may, for example. Communication at the interface between two organizations with vastly differing cultures can be difficult. For example, one might expect some differences of opinion at a joint project planning session involving a very forward-looking, can-do supplier and a conservative, risk-averse customer. Project managers can ease such difficulties by understanding the divergences in attitudes between the parties involved, and then acting as intermediaries to facilitate communication. In geographically distributed (or virtual) teams, differences between regional cultures can come into play. These could manifest themselves in a variety of ways, such as differences in fluency of language or social attitudes and behaviors. Here again, the project leader, and the rest of the team for that matter, need to be aware of the differences and allow for them in project communications.
- Linguistic: Linguistic needs to be understood in the sense of specialized terminology used by different disciplines such as accounting, IT, marketing, etc. Often when specialists from diverse areas get together to discuss project related matters, there is a tendency for each side to make assumptions (often tacitly) regarding a common understanding of specialized jargon. This often leads to incomplete (at best) or incorrect (at worst) communication. So practical techniques that would solve the above three obstacles needs to be identified and implemented. In other words, communication sharing should be best at any project level
Communication Sharing is the Solution
There are many different avenues a project manager and a project team can take to communicate. Project teams can effectively communicate through hallway meetings or formal project status meetings. Information can be transferred from stakeholder to stakeholder through anything from written notes to complex online databases and tracking systems.
As part of the communications planning, the project manager should identify all of the required and approved methods of communicating. Some projects may be highly sensitive and contain classified information that not all stakeholders are privy to, while other projects may contain information that is open for anyone to explore. Whatever the case, the project manager should identify what requirements exist, if any, for the communication modalities.
Communication modalities can also include meetings, reports, memos, e-mails, etc. The project manager should identify the preferred methods of communicating based on the conditions of the message to be communicated. Consider the following, which may have an effect on the communication plan:
- Urgency of the information: When the information is communicated can often be as important as what is being communicated. For some projects, information should be readily available, while other projects are less demanding.
- Technology: Because of the demands of the project, technology changes may be needed to fulfill the project request. For example, the project may require an internal Web site that details project progress. If such a Web site does not exist, time and money will need to be invested into this communication requirement.
- Project staffing: The project manager should evaluate the abilities of the project team to determine if appropriate levels of competency exist to fulfill the communication requirements or if training will be required for the project team.
- Project length: The length of the project can have an influence on the project technology. Advances in technology may replace a long-term project's communication model. A short-term project may not have the same technology requirements as a long-term project, but could benefit from the successful model a larger project uses.
- Project environment: How a team communicates often depends on its structure. Consider a collocated team versus a virtual team. Each type can be effective, but there will be differing communication demands for each type of team.
The project manager may need to be in touch with people in the same location or various other locations in which project work is being performed. It is the project manager's duty to determine how to do this information sharing; he or she should categorize the means of communication. Information sharing in the current world makes us think of fax machines, telephone, e-mail, and similar tools. How do you prioritize the means of communications and convey what is really required?
1) In person: The best communication is still face-to-face. The project manager can determine the person's body language and get their tone and nuances. Very importantly, this often tells more about what is going on in the project.
2) Telephone: The tone of the voice can be heard. Note that you should always smile into the telephone, which gives a feeling of upbeat and confidence in the project.
3) Videoconferencing: This is very useful in saving travel costs.
4) E-mail: The most popular of these is obviously e-mail next to the telephone. It is amazing that people are taught how to use an e-mail system, but are not provided with any guidelines on effective use. Here are some specific guidelines that would help to increase the efficiency of communication via e-mail:
• Avoid using email for any sensitive topics;
• Assume that everyone in the company will read your emails;
• Think about what medium to use for communications before you resort to e-mail;
• Make sure that the title of the email is either very specific or very general; and
• Avoid using email to discuss an issue in any depth. E-mail was never intended to be used as groupware.
5) Fax: This is not highly recommended nowadays, as it is not possible to confirm if the sent fax was received until the receiver confirms.
Examining Communication Factors
The most common type of communication between a sender and a receiver is verbal communication. When verbal communication is involved, the project manager should remember that half of communication is listening. This means that the project manager must confirm that the receiver understands the message being sent. The confirmation of the sent message can be seen in the recipient's body language, feedback, and verbal confirmation of the sent message. Five terms are used to describe the process of communicating. They are as follows:
- Paralingual: The pitch, tone, and inflections in the sender's voice affect the message being sent.
- Feedback: The sender confirms that the receiver understands the message by directly asking for a response, questions for clarification, or other confirmation of the sent message.
- Active listening: The receiver confirms that the message is being received through feedback, questions, prompts for clarity, and other signs of confirmation.
- Effective listening: The receiver is involved in the listening experience by paying attention to visual clues from the speaker and paralingual characteristics and by asking relevant questions.
- Nonverbal: Approximately 55% of communication is nonverbal. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language contribute to the message
Did You Know?
“Only 7% of our communication is verbal—the content of our communication. Thirty-eight percent is conveyed through the quality of voice—tone, volume, speed and pitch. Fifty-five percent is through posture, movements, gestures, facial expressions, breathing and skin-color changes.”
Today in this globalized world, communication between diverse groups is a major challenge. Let's take a sneak peek.
Importance of Communication in Diverse Work Groups
Work forces today reflect diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. However, while the term diverse includes a larger range of differences: economic level, educational level, lifestyle, sexual orientation, geographical and regional differences, plus many other descriptors. The presence and acknowledgment of these kinds of differences in people can help a work group communicate effectively and work productively.
Communicating in diverse work groups is a business issue. Many organizations are realizing the value of different perspectives that come with a diverse work group. Diversity can lead to more ideas and higher levels of creativity, giving the organization more options and choices; thus resulting in better outcomes for the organization and better products and services for its customers.
However, communication within a diverse work group can create complex and challenging situations. People with varying perspectives and experiences have different meanings and contexts for words and phrases. They also use nonverbal expressions differently. What is appropriate to one person may be offensive to another.
Successful communication in diverse work groups extends beyond mastering the mechanics of basic communication (Figure 6); it involves learning to understand and effectively use words and phrases. Effective communicators gain knowledge about other people's backgrounds and develop positive work group relationships.
Tips for Individuals to Communicate to Achieve Success in a Team
1. Recognize and understand the differences
Know whom you are communicating with. What is the background of each team member? What are their experiences and how do they shape the team members' views, opinions, perspectives, and biases? It is imperative to keep an open and flexible mind.
Recognizing differences means acknowledging and respecting individuals for who they are; it does not necessarily imply agreement with their perspectives, nor is it a like/dislike dimension.
You (the sender) need to consider how you are different from the intended audience. What is your background and experience, and how does the past shape your views? What are your opinions and biases? Communication is a two-way process, and you, as the sender, play an important role.
2. Create the appropriate message to communicate
Be clear about the content and goal of your message. Are you communicating to inform? Asking for input? Clarifying an issue? Resolving a problem? How should your message be formulated given the differences between yourself and your audiences? Should your message be direct and to the point, or should it be more subtle and indirect?
3. Deliver the message
Your message can be delivered in many different ways such as written document, a team meeting, voice mail, e-mail, or face-to-face communication. Each communication mode has its own advantages and disadvantages. Select the type that will maximize the successful delivery of your message given the diversity issues involved. Knowing your audience can greatly help determine when and how to deliver the message.
4. Obtain the feedback
You will want to check for understanding and ensure that your message was accurately received. The important point is to ensure accurate comprehension, not necessarily agreement.
Case Study: Four-Step Process for Effective Communication
Springfield Community Hospital is a large hospital located in the northwest portion of the United States. They have eight campuses throughout Washington and Oregon. Their hospitals specialize in general practice, heart health, long-term care, and health education. This is a key example for the four steps for effective communication.
The project, led by Martin Anderson, was a paperless initiative that allowed doctors and nurses to use wireless technologies with patient interaction. The project, while large and ambitious, helps patients receive more care that is accurate, reduces paperwork, and streamlines processes throughout the hospital.
1. Identify Communication Requirements
“A project of this size, with this vast amount of stakeholders, requires this much communication,” said project sponsor Kisper, as she stretched her arms wider and wider apart. “Communication is, without a doubt, a project manager's most important job.”
Throughout the project, Anderson had to work with interfaces from medical, technical, legal, public relations, business managers, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA), inspectors from the Office for Civil Rights, and personnel from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the first tasks within the project was to create a project team directory that included e-mails, phone numbers, campus locations, and roles for each project team member. This directory was published in print and on the hospital's intranet. Because of the variety of the project team members, it was not ideal to locate all of the project team members in one place physically, but the directory helped bring the project team closer together.
2. Identify the 5Ws (Why, What, When, Where, Who) and 1H (How)
- Who—Anderson, the project manager, had a large project team to work with. His team included network engineers, wireless engineers, nurses, doctors, and other health liaisons to incorporate into the project team.
- What—The project team, in its early stages, stayed very segmented between the technical staff and the medical staff. Each part of the project team had never really worked with each other. Once the project team began to see how they needed to work with each other in order for the project deliverable to be successful, the walls began to break down and thoughtful communication began
- When—The initial phase of the project went well thanks to the planning and simulations the project team completed. Once the first campus was moved to the wireless system, the project team monitored the facets of the project and then reported them as expected to the project manager. Anderson then worked with the project team experts to create solutions for any problems that cropped up and within two weeks' time, the system was functional. The first campus served as a model for the remaining campuses
- Where—Anderson created, with the project team's help, a schedule for weekly status reports throughout the project. In addition, the communications management plan defined the following:
• When the project team would be expected to report variances in the project implementation;
• How the project team was to interact with other team members through the project's work authorization system;
• The expectations from management for status reports, variance reports, and project summary reports;
• The hospital's public relations department role announcing and reporting on the project progress;
• The expected communication among the project team, Anderson, and the functional managers of the project team members;
• The expected modalities for the types of communication; and
• The knowledge management system the hospitals use to store and retrieve project communications.
- Why—In order for the project to succeed, Anderson knew that effective communication was paramount. In addition to the large project team, he had considerations from the hospital board of directors, the community, and ultimately the hospital patients. Very early in the project Anderson addressed the Communications Management Plan
- How—The project communications management was based on a template for all projects within Springfield Community Hospital. This project plan, however, addressed new areas of communication demands because of the structure of the IT department compared to the structure of the medical staff, their expectations, and availability for communication. Anderson continually reinforced the pending communication expectations to keep the project team, stakeholders, and management abreast of the project
The project team also relied on one another. One of the first tasks within the project was to create a project team directory that included e-mails, phone numbers, campus locations, and roles for each project team member. This directory was published in print and on the hospital's intranet. Because of the variety of the project team members, it was not ideal to locate all of the project team members in one place physically, but the directory helped bring the project team closer together. Regular status meetings, e-mail, phone conferences, and impromptu hallway meetings all contributed to the project's success.
3. Identify and Accommodate the Enterprise Environmental Factors
This project focused on changing the culture to a paperless working environment. They had to comply with the expected norms and standards of any health organization. They used the intranet within the organization. The major databases that provided inputs were the patient records, medical history, etc.
4. Identify Organizational Process Assets
- Hospital standards and policies;
- Hospital guidelines, work instructions and performance measurement criteria;
- This was a paperless initiative that allowed doctors and nurses to use wireless technologies with patient interaction;
- Future use of tablet PCs to assist with health care administration, patient interviews, and hospital rounds;
- Project closure requirements;
- Financial controls and procedures;
- Process measurement database;
- Project file structure, organization and retention; and
- Historical patient information.
This paper strongly suggests communication is the key for success for any project. It lists the importance of communication, the communication process, the steps to keep communication alive, an effective communication plan, four steps for effective communication, the obstacles in communication, importance of communication in a diverse work group and tips for any individual to communicate effectively in a team. Finally, it elaborates a case study for the four-step effective communication. It saves time and money, makes life easier, makes you more profitable, and it just makes sense!