My last post highlighted the challenges of designing a project communication system that works. Now I will try to suggest a few solutions.
To quote Peter Taylor's book, The Lazy Project Manager, "Reporting is not communicating." Executives don't have time to read fantastically accurate and detailed reports--people are simply too busy to take that kind of deep dive.
But at least some of that detail is important.
My suggestions to resolve this conundrum are:
â€¢ Separate push and pull communications. Make the detail available in a repository such as a project portal) where people who need the detail can easily retrieve it (pull). Anything you send out (push) should focus on the highlights and information that requires action.
â€¢ Separate history from future. Reporting what happened last week is of no value to the project unless it contains information that will influence future decisions. Historical data is needed by accountants and business administrators. project leaders and team members need information that is forward-looking, focusing on what might happen in the future and what needs to be done to improve the situation.
â€¢ Focus on the needs of the receivers. Make sure you give your audience the information they need to help make the project successful. Team members need to know what work to do in the next week or two. Managers need to know what they have to decide.
Achieving this type of communication requires planning and information design. Each element of the overall controls system needs to be elegantly designed to support both management decision-making and the work of the project.
More importantly, the communication effort needs to focus on the important stakeholders who influence success: both internally to leaders within the team and externally to decision makers and influencers. (More on this later.)
And remember Cohn's Law: The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Stability is achieved when you spend all your time reporting on the nothing you are doing.