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This varies depending on many factors such as the level of formality required by the project context, the location of the team members and key stakeholders, the size of the team and number of key stakeholders and so on.
Smaller, informal projects with co-located teams and stakeholders might show a much greater emphasis on verbal communication whereas more formal, larger projects would have a higher percentage of written or electronic communications.
The more effective the message the less time needs to be spent on communication. Once people know their roles and responsibilities within the project management team from the Business Analyst to the Project Sponsor then the amount of time dedicated to communication should decrease. This becomes apparent with a well developed project team that has gone through numerous Project Management cycles.
This is a good question, but not one that can be truly quantified. The 90% (often stated as 75%-90%) reference is in the context of “some form of communication”, which when applied to other roles on a project (e.g., a sr. business analyst, SME, etc.) would also be true.
The fact that project managers spend most of their time transacting in some form of communication is a given and, in my opinion, should not be a toutable characteristic. The critics of the “project manager” role use our touting of this percentage as a negative, as it fuels their portrayal of an obsolete role that actually hinders communication, as “why do we need a role that just repeats project knowledge which is already available – doesn’t this repeater actually dilute the accuracy of the data?”
Obviously, we know project managers play a strategic role and are not just simply communicating known knowledge extraneously, but I fear this statistic makes a fodder for the cannon’s being fired at our profession. Food for thought.
What's key here is making sure the right information gets to the right people in as few words as possible. Many project managers make the mistake of over-communication, which means a lot of people get a lot of information they don't care about, which leads to your communications turning into white noise. Also consider how your recipient, particularly stakeholders and sponsors, are most apt to respond to information. Do they prefer written email with short meeting follow-up, only written, regular meetings, etc. It's hard work but well worth it.
Thank you all for the contributions! It is quite surprising that a subject - communication - we all agree to be fundamental to the projects and project managers success has so little data and information! I would really suggest this topic as a top priority for the profession and for PMI.
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