We Asked the Project Management Community: Which Communication Tools and Practices Do You Find Essential
“As many organizations shift their delivery strategy toward more agile approaches, real-time communication tools have become necessary, and traditional email steadily is being replaced. Our organization has invested in a tool with integrated videoconferencing, group chat and screen sharing. We've found that this more robust communication tool can keep pace with our team's rapid progress.”
—Sridhar Peddisetty, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, delivery head, Prokarma, Buenos Aires, Argentina
“More project teams will begin using mobile messaging apps for professional purposes in the next few years. These apps allow project managers to communicate with their teams wherever and whenever. And because people almost always have their phones with them, it's easier to reach others in an urgent situation. Many apps allow you to create groups with different purposes, such as a group with your project management office (PMO) team, another for developers, testers, etc. And they let you communicate seamlessly in a variety of mediums: text, audio, video and PDFs (though I still prefer email for the latter).
In my experience, it's easier to secure team buy-in for these apps than other tools. Almost everyone with a smartphone is familiar with messaging apps, so the training and adjustment period will be minimal and team members will be more likely to embrace (and actually use) the tool.”
—Tulio Franzini, PMO assistant, Ofício, São Paulo, Brazil
KEEP IN TOUCH
What are your essential communication tools? Share your best advice on the PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group.
“Spoken communication—whether inperson, through video or voice calls—still delivers the most informational content. In my opinion, texts and instant messages often lack context and create an expectation for instant answers even when a longer, more thought-out response would be far better. I could give countless examples of times when these tools caused incomplete or misinterpreted communications—and negative consequences for project quality.”
—Ronald Stacey, PMP, senior manager, portfolio, program and project delivery, Aspirent, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
REMEMBER TO LISTEN
“We need to remember that eyes and ears are the best communication tools. Good listeners are also the most effective communicators. Being a good listener is about understanding and interpreting information in a large context and noticing visual signals. Nonverbal communications can be powerful.
When listening to a team member, try not to assume. I always attempt to clear my mind of any previous beliefs or assumptions I have for the situation at hand. I also use brief, positive statements to keep the conversation going. Asking questions and maintaining eye contact can draw out meaningful answers. And I always give feedback and ask for clarification when needed.”
—Vassilis Papaspirou, senior project and development manager, PC Systems, Athens, Greece
“Whether virtual or in-person, meetings are the must-have communication tool for any project manager. They tend to be more effective than other communication tools—but only if they are carefully planned ahead of time. We use a web-based meeting scheduler, and I have found it to be a very effective tool. It streamlines the process of selecting a date and time for the meeting, which is especially helpful for large or remote groups.
A well-prepared meeting agenda can produce outstanding results in less time. It helps to focus the meeting on a particular aspect of a project. To avoid unplanned distractions, the project manager must be sure that only the necessary team members are invited and that the purpose and agenda of the meeting is communicated beforehand. Further facilitate communication by encouraging team members to actively participate and give them sufficient time to prepare.”
—Edgar Bonilla Torres, PMP, energy and hydrocarbons project advisor, LG International Corporation, Bogotá, Colombia
Employees weigh in on their device preferences for business communications.
While emailing on-the-go, workers prefer...
Top motivations for using these types of devices:
|60% Multiple windows and multitasking |
59% Larger screens
55% Writing, editing and uploading/downloading files
|62% Portability and flexibility |
50% Constant data connectivity
|55% Portability |
36% Wide choice of applications
Source: The Role of Multiple Devices in the Workplace, Qlik Innovation and Design Research Digest, 2015
BEST OF BOTH
Every project manager needs a portable device for quick or urgent messages and a larger device for more in-depth communications. Both have their own benefits. Your portable device, like a smartphone, should be capable of transmitting photos and PDFs and providing certified documents and signatures. But these devices tend to be unreliable when it comes to video-chatting with your team. That's why it's important to have a laptop available for when you need those longer, face-to-face conversations.”
—Roberto Tamai, program manager, European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany
JANUARY 2017 PM NETWORK
PM NETWORK JANUARY 2017 WWW.PMI.ORG