Open Doors

Even When Projects Move Fast, Take the Time to Provide Honest Updates


By Andrew Craig, PMP

Projects move at the speed of decisions. But sound decision making can occur only with an open, honest flow of information—meaning successful projects require transparency.

Project managers should foster this transparency by putting stakeholders at the center of every project with real-time updates. Such an approach will encourage trust, confidence and the development of strong relationships, all of which add to the likelihood of project success. Team members are more likely to work harder on a project when they are able to see a vision conveyed by the customer and feel integral to the project cycle. Conversely, when stakeholders feel starved for information, they begin to worry that the project is not being managed well and frequently ask for updates.

Transparency does not mean simply blasting out constant emails to everyone, however. Too much noise harms the project by muddling the flow of quality information. Transparency also does not mean exposing sensitive information to the wrong audience. Instead, it involves making the right information available to the right people at the right time.

Right Tool for the Job

On a recent large international project I managed, I used a tool that centralized documents, reports and discussions. It offered an at-a-glance illustration of the project's current state, with supporting details. I also could configure alerts to notify various members of updates. The result was that stakeholders from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America were able to effectively collaborate using near realtime information. The fact that conversations were centrally available, rather than lost in email, helped the team address and resolve difficult issues around scope and change. All this information benefited my project with shorter, more succinct meetings, as well as more rapid decision making.

We're responsible for accurately reflecting the true nature and status of the project. Only then can smart decisions be made.

The tool also allowed for role-based permission levels with additional, more granular-level security for sensitive documents. This ensured the inclusion of those fully involved and restriction of access for others.

Whatever tool is selected, project transparency should be integrated into your project management processes, not conducted as a disparate activity.

Projects are not always green, nor do they always have a perfect cost or schedule performance index. It's never a good idea to mask problems. As project managers, we're responsible for accurately reflecting the true nature and status of the project. Only then can smart decisions be made. PM

img Andrew Craig, PMP, is a project manager at Equisoft, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



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