Direct Communication within Your Project: How and with Whom?

There’s nothing more essential to a successful project than communication. It plays a role in everything from teamwork to ensuring that your stakeholders are engaged and more. Without communication, your project is dead in the water. However, how should you communicate? With whom do you really need to communicate as the project progresses? While the answers to these questions will certainly vary by project type, industry and company size, here are some of the most common answers.
How and When
Before we touch on whom you need to communicate with, let’s take a look at how and when you need to communicate. These can be difficult things to keep in place, particularly if you’re new to the role of project manager, or you’ve just stepped into a larger project than what you’re used to. There are two key words here – direct and timely. Direct communication means that you send your message (in whatever manner you choose) directly to the person in question, rather than having it come down the chain of command. Timely communication means that you don’t wait to send a message – you do it immediately, while it is still relevant.
The question of how you communicate will be largely determined by the type of team you’re managing. For instance, if your team members are located remotely, you’ll be relying primarily on electronic communication options. If they’re local, you can herd them up and have an in-person meeting when needed.
For stakeholders, this changes. Most of the time you’ll be communicating with stakeholders through email and over the phone, particularly if you’re working on a project for a client. Regardless, you need to make sure that your communication is direct and timely – you can’t afford to leave your stakeholders out of the loop any more than you can your team members.
With Whom?
Team Members – The most important people to communicate with are your team members. You need to communicate with them constantly, and it should be direct (verbal communication versus a memo, for instance). However, there are many ways you can communicate directly with them and ensure that you’re doing so on a constant basis. These include the following:

Instant Message
Wiki Boards
Video Chat
Team Meetings (yes, these are necessary)
Stakeholders – Communicating with stakeholders is most frequently done through electronic means, as mentioned previously. However, that’s not true in 100% of instances. Your specific situation may require that you communicate with various stakeholders directly. These might include your managers, project champions, the heads of other departments that play a role in fulfillment, and many others. Remote stakeholders will usually require that you use phone or email communications though. Many of the same communications tools used for team communication can be used here.
Communication (timely and direct) is vital to your success. You must stay in constant contact with those who matter most to your project. Make sure that everyone who needs to be is kept in the loop at all times, and you’ll find that your path to success is smoother than would otherwise be possible.

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