Project Management

Overcoming Communications Problems: Recognize, Prevent & Fix

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Every project manager knows how important communication is. But every project manager also knows that no matter how much work is put into those communications, mistakes will happen. Those mistakes can cause real damage to the project, and we do all we can to prevent them from happening.

That’s important, but what’s more important is how we react on those occasions when problems still occur. That can be the difference between project success and failure.

Recognize the problem
It sounds obvious, but the first step in resolving communications problems is to identify them in the first place. Rarely is the issue something as simple as communications not happening or information being completely incorrect. Most problems are more subtle than that. It may be a document that contains details that could be interpreted in a few different ways. It could be slightly different explanations of the same thing by different stakeholders. Or it might be part of the team being inadvertently left out of a communication. All of those issues are easy to fix—as long as they are identified early on and addressed straight away.

The challenge is that the issues aren’t always apparent immediately. For example, if all team members read the project charter and confirm that they have understood it, you might think there is no issue. But we don’t have any assurances …

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