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Topics: Business Analysis, Communications Management, Leadership
Technical communication ownership
While managing a program, who should be accountable for the communications with a external supplier? The program manager, or the technical project manager?

While managing a program i have in the team an IT project manager. He is responsible for managing the IT team.
At the design stage, he analysis and defines the technical solution with "his" team. He thinks the communication with external supplier should be through me (program manager). I told him i don't add value on the communication, so i ask him to start and manage the "technical" communication with the external supplier. He disagrees.

Who do you think should be accountable for managing the communication with the external supplier, the program manager or the IT PM?
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Dear Tiago
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

In my opinion, the person responsible for communicating with the stakeholders (which includes the Program Manager) is the Project Manager

Despite this, I would like to know if that person you refer to has the necessary skills to communicate effectively with stakeholders
Tiago,
Technical discussions generally don’t include the program manager unless the subject spans beyond individual projects. Sometimes businesses have an assigned role (Contracts, Supplier Management, etc.) which act as a liaison to external suppliers and need to be at least included in the discussions to ensure that any agreements are in-line with the contracts. Formal written agreements go through them. Those people usually don’t even understand the technical details however and although included are not the prime channel of communication.

The closer people are to the technical problem itself, the less is lost in translation between parties. I find it most effective when the designers/engineers and suppliers can communicate directly. As a technical PM myself, I will often sit in on the discussions, request I am CC'd on emails, etc. between our suppliers and engineers. I often catch designers agreeing to things out of scope (while we’re doing this, it would be a good time to…), or have some other negative impact elsewhere in the project.

During major project milestone reviews, the Program Manager often attends, but they are more focused on cost, schedule, and the impact across projects and program phases. They are not central to the detailed technical parts of the discussions.
Trying to answer this from other point of view (based on things I lived) the key thing is to understand why? they do not want to assume that role that, indeed, is under she/he responsability. Sometimes if the person has a technical profile then could be difficult to assume this type of things. You need to be informed because you have the whole picture but the IT PM is on charge of all related the IT component of the project, communication between other things.
Hello Luis,
my role is program manager. I've on the team a person from IT who is responsible to manage the IT delivery. I ask him to manage the "technical" communications with the external supplier.

Hello Keith
thanks for the response. It's aligned with my perspective, understanding.



Hi Sergio,
I believe the main reason, in this case is the domain of the language (English). The person feels awkward since it's not his mother tongue.
Secondary reason, harder to deal, is the afraid of commitment with their own proposal. Yes, assuming its under his responsability.

i kickoff the communication, but my intention, for now on is to be in Cc. since is hard to follow up the technical details.
...
2 replies by Luis Branco and Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 18, 2020 12:55 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Understood. Language is one of the key problems in my actual work place too. People sometimes is afraid to talk in languages which are not their mother tongue no matter in my actual work place we are all trying to speak in english inside a highly multi-national environment. About the second point, what I do first is talking with him trying to understand the reason because I always try to help people to do their job. Just in case there is no possibility to compatibilize the positions I replace him because at the end I have the maximun accountability as program manager. Perhaps him will have better possibilities in other project.
Feb 18, 2020 1:20 PM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Tiago
As mentioned by me, if this person has the skills to assume the role and if they have the self-confidence to do so, let them assume ...
Otherwise, you need to train her
Feb 18, 2020 12:31 PM
Replying to Tiago Romao
...
Hello Luis,
my role is program manager. I've on the team a person from IT who is responsible to manage the IT delivery. I ask him to manage the "technical" communications with the external supplier.

Hello Keith
thanks for the response. It's aligned with my perspective, understanding.



Hi Sergio,
I believe the main reason, in this case is the domain of the language (English). The person feels awkward since it's not his mother tongue.
Secondary reason, harder to deal, is the afraid of commitment with their own proposal. Yes, assuming its under his responsability.

i kickoff the communication, but my intention, for now on is to be in Cc. since is hard to follow up the technical details.
Understood. Language is one of the key problems in my actual work place too. People sometimes is afraid to talk in languages which are not their mother tongue no matter in my actual work place we are all trying to speak in english inside a highly multi-national environment. About the second point, what I do first is talking with him trying to understand the reason because I always try to help people to do their job. Just in case there is no possibility to compatibilize the positions I replace him because at the end I have the maximun accountability as program manager. Perhaps him will have better possibilities in other project.
...
1 reply by Tiago Romao
Feb 18, 2020 1:02 PM
Tiago Romao
...
Yes,
I will talk to him, trying to helping him, explaining that English is not the mother tongue, its acceptable to have difficulties expressing ideas.
I don't have authority to replace him, but i can suggest and it won't be needed i trust in his work, believe that his Engish is more than enough. The major barrier is in did assume his proposal.
Feb 18, 2020 12:55 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Understood. Language is one of the key problems in my actual work place too. People sometimes is afraid to talk in languages which are not their mother tongue no matter in my actual work place we are all trying to speak in english inside a highly multi-national environment. About the second point, what I do first is talking with him trying to understand the reason because I always try to help people to do their job. Just in case there is no possibility to compatibilize the positions I replace him because at the end I have the maximun accountability as program manager. Perhaps him will have better possibilities in other project.
Yes,
I will talk to him, trying to helping him, explaining that English is not the mother tongue, its acceptable to have difficulties expressing ideas.
I don't have authority to replace him, but i can suggest and it won't be needed i trust in his work, believe that his Engish is more than enough. The major barrier is in did assume his proposal.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 18, 2020 1:24 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
I always try to go in that direction and it worked for me along the years. Up to date I had no need to replace somebody but if I have to do that I will do it. The team is over anything else. This person must understand that the only way she/he is doing well is if and only if everybody is doing well. If they are not assuming the role being the project manager then it is impossible the team will succeed or what is worst they can stop to behave as a team.
Feb 18, 2020 12:31 PM
Replying to Tiago Romao
...
Hello Luis,
my role is program manager. I've on the team a person from IT who is responsible to manage the IT delivery. I ask him to manage the "technical" communications with the external supplier.

Hello Keith
thanks for the response. It's aligned with my perspective, understanding.



Hi Sergio,
I believe the main reason, in this case is the domain of the language (English). The person feels awkward since it's not his mother tongue.
Secondary reason, harder to deal, is the afraid of commitment with their own proposal. Yes, assuming its under his responsability.

i kickoff the communication, but my intention, for now on is to be in Cc. since is hard to follow up the technical details.
Dear Tiago
As mentioned by me, if this person has the skills to assume the role and if they have the self-confidence to do so, let them assume ...
Otherwise, you need to train her
Feb 18, 2020 1:02 PM
Replying to Tiago Romao
...
Yes,
I will talk to him, trying to helping him, explaining that English is not the mother tongue, its acceptable to have difficulties expressing ideas.
I don't have authority to replace him, but i can suggest and it won't be needed i trust in his work, believe that his Engish is more than enough. The major barrier is in did assume his proposal.
I always try to go in that direction and it worked for me along the years. Up to date I had no need to replace somebody but if I have to do that I will do it. The team is over anything else. This person must understand that the only way she/he is doing well is if and only if everybody is doing well. If they are not assuming the role being the project manager then it is impossible the team will succeed or what is worst they can stop to behave as a team.

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