Effective project communication is the glue that holds people, processes, and project objectives together. From setting clear goals to solving on-the-fly issues, communication plays an instrumental role in successfully getting projects over the line.
Whether you are a project manager aiming to build a cohesive team or a stakeholder looking to ensure successful delivery, understanding and implementing robust communication strategies are key.In this article, we’re going to cover 10 tips that will guide you in building solid teams and delivering results through efficient project communication.
Having a flexible, easygoing approach to communication is fine. Or, more precisely, it’s fine until the pressure is on and your response is ineffective, with people speaking over each other in a stressful mess of confusion. Wise project managers will have been through situations like this in the past, which is why they’re so keen on establishing a communication policy at the beginning of a project.
A good policy will include rules on what communication channels to use and when. Equip your team with a comprehensive project management tool with discussion boards for each task. Assign the relevant stakeholders to each task and demonstrate how each participant can provide updates, ask for help, and sign off subtasks as complete. This offers structure to task-based communication and keeps a record in one place so no information gets lost in a siloed chat or email thread.
Now you’ve covered task-relevant chat, what are you going to do with other communications? Some top tips that many companies adopt include hosting recorded video conferencing meetings to round up every sprint. This gives everyone an opportunity to reply in real-time but also allows you to retain a record for the future. You have to bear other peoples’ ideas in mind too, so allow phone calls to suppliers and clients, as long as your team member submits a written record afterward.
Projects are, by their very definition, complex. When you have a team that is constantly thinking about the entire scope of the project, they can easily feel overburdened. That’s why setting milestones is such an important aspect of a project communication plan.
Milestones serve the dual purpose of allowing your team to fully focus on the important tasks ahead of them and as an excuse for effective team building with a mini celebration. They are markers that help teams track progress by understanding where they are and where they should be. That same information can then be translated into a milestone presentation for your clients.
There’s no exact science for when a milestone should be, but some obvious choices may jump out at you. For example, if you’re opening a restaurant, your milestones could be:
Getting all the furniture you need
Testing and confirming menus
Buying all the supplies for your kitchen
Hiring and training your staff
All of these milestones consist of smaller, interdependent tasks. By focusing your communication on manageable chunks of work, you contextualize your conversation so you’re all speaking the same language and focused on the same goals. This allows your team to be more focused on what they have in front of them rather than having pinball discussions about future tasks that aren’t currently a priority.
Some of the biggest threats to your project come from inconsistent communication about routine or seemingly simple tasks. We humans are smart folk and love spotting patterns to make things easier. Therefore, if you maintain consistency through duplicable workflows, your team will automatically recognize what is expected of them and work more efficiently without needing to fully analyze instructions.
One of the best project management techniques to streamline your task creation is to use workflows — a series of tasks that combine to achieve a goal. Start by building a standardized workflow template that is ready to go at the click of a button. You can further optimize each step by sending automated messages for a manager to sign off on each step. This means your team won’t waste time chasing up a response manually.
This method of team communication is essential for cutting out unnecessary communication. The predictable nature of duplicable workflows cuts down the possibility of misunderstandings or needless questions. It leads to a more confident, higher-performing team as repetitive tasks become second nature, saving critical thinking and creativity for more important work.
Emails are a fact of project management that can be one of the worst blockers to progress. Aside from trying to reduce emails in your project communication policy, there are other ways to increase your productivity when the time inevitably comes that you’ll have to send an email.
Some of the best communication strategies in projects are shortcuts for small tasks that add up to save a whole heap of time. For example, responsive email templates have been around for many years now, but surprisingly few people use them effectively. They are simply pre-written messages that can be used repeatedly as long as you fill in relevant information. Typical template emails will cover:
Weekly project status reports where you can simply refresh the data.
Meeting invitations don’t have to be works of art. Just change the date, time, and agenda and leave the rest to your template.
Responses to FAQs can be standardized into a template so you can immediately respond with consistent information.
Snippets work in a similar way to templates. They are short pieces of text that you can add to your email, rather than typing the same paragraph out over and over again.
Of course, sometimes you will need to hand-craft an email and now there is tech to take your project communication management to the next level. Large language models (LLMs) can understand and contextualize a message you’ve been sent and curate a free-flowing response based on some simple objectives you offer as a prompt.
By creating a culture that fully utilizes these techniques, your workers will earn a reputation as effective communicators. As one of the most important parts of client satisfaction is transparency and responsiveness, email shortcuts will allow you to rise to the challenge without burning out your team.
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Throughout the lifetime of a project, you’ll create a wide range of communication materials, including newsletters, press releases, internal articles, posters, flyers, photos, and more. At some point, you may need to retrieve these assets, so the small effort of organizing them well can reap benefits in the long run.
Organizing these materials is a simple part of your project communication plan if you follow these steps.
Set up an online storage drive for your communication assets on the cloud.
Catalog each asset: by type, creation date, and how it can be reused.
Set user permissions to give the right people access to materials when needed.
Inform your team about the organization of the storage structure and provide guidelines on how to upload and retrieve materials.
Reuse and recycle materials, like your email templates, to save time on content creation.
As a project manager, when you create tasks, you can simply include a link to reference materials in the resources section of your task card. That way, you can promote consistency and efficiency as you progress through your project.
Just as you plan out the tasks and milestones needed to complete your project, plot a communications calendar with all the key announcements and deadlines for your communications. Hitting these checkpoints on time breeds a great sense of confidence among your stakeholders as they are public proof of your project’s progress.
Luckily, creating a communications calendar is one of the easiest project management techniques to implement. For each major event, such as newsletters, important conference calls, and product releases, start with the deadline and work your way backward. Ask yourself what steps you need to take to hit your target, and remember to add in a bit of leeway in case of unexpected circumstances.
Regardless of whether you're using a Gantt chart or another project management visualization tool, it's important to prioritize the most critical tasks and adjust the schedule for the rest as needed. For each task in the lead-up to a communications event, apply dates, subtasks, resources, and automated reminders so your team keep their priorities front and center.
One key question posed by project managers is “How should a project team communicate when working in different locations?”
First things first, you want your team communication to be convenient and predictable. If you have an international team, try to avoid meetings outside of office hours. For convenience, the best online meeting planners have the capability of inputting different time zones, allowing you to find the sweet spot when everyone is online. Making meetings predictable means scheduling them well in advance to avoid surprising team members and to allow them time to prepare.
Calendar automations mean you can schedule recurring meetings, such as daily standups and two-week reviews, in an instant. Be sure to include all the necessary information needed in your invitation and set customizable reminders, so your team arrives ready to contribute.
Finally, effective team building means being open to feedback on your meeting strategy. If people feel inconvenienced or that they’re wasting their time, it can cause a lack of trust and a breakdown in smooth communication. Therefore, be prepared to rotate meeting times or consider whether certain meetings are necessary for all participants.
In an age of information overload, it’s your job as a project manager to fine-tune your project communication to only give people information that is relevant to them. One of the best ways to do this is to equip yourself with a powerful customer relationship management system (CRM) that allows you to segment your database and send emails efficiently.
Start by identifying the main mailing lists that you will need to contact. The following categories are examples to get you started:
Key progress announcements can go out to all stakeholders, while marketing assets could be sent out to clients to build hype for your project. This is an effective method of project communication management as it keeps information confidential while lowering the inbox burden on each individual. This helps to build a solid team as you show your team you respect their workload and earn their respect in return.
Until now, we’ve mainly been looking at the hard, strategic tips for building solid teams and delivering results. Now we’re getting into the more subjective, but equally important job of tailoring your communication style depending on who you’re speaking to.
In this phase, it's essential to understand each team member, as well as other project participants. Knowing their communication preferences, their role in the project, and their expectations can significantly influence the effectiveness of your messages and help to strengthen your team.
For example, you might have a go-getting sales agent who is fully open to constructive criticism and prefers a short, face-to-face meeting to solve issues quickly and effectively. At the other end of the spectrum, you may have more sensitive souls who are immediately demotivated by confrontation and require a gentler explanation of what you need from them.
You don’t need to be an experienced psychologist to work each person out. It’s all about getting to better understand your team. Showing that you care is half the battle, as it makes people feel heard and valued. Using that information, you can adapt your tone of voice for one of the more personal communication strategies in projects and lower the risk of problematic misunderstandings.
In tip 10, we'll explore how to recover from a communication faux pas and the strategies for continuous improvement. Even with policies and workflows in place, your project communication approach is never set in stone. There is always room for improvement, so you should always be prepared to adapt your style and take on new best practices.
Key elements to bear in mind to improve your project communication include:
Creating a culture where suggestions are welcome. As a manager, you don’t often see communication issues among team members, so make it clear that you want to hear about potential improvements.
Use CRM analytics to monitor KPIs such as response times and how effective different communications channels are.
Create a review workflow and run periodic analyses of your project communication plan with your team.
Implement any changes, but be sure to closely monitor their success through A/B testing to see their impact.
With a mindset of constant improvement, you not only improve your communication in the current project but also contribute to the long-term improvement of communication practices within your organization.
Our ten tips cover a wide range of strategies of how a project team should communicate. But as you may have noticed, major changes need the support of robust business tools.
Bitrix24 was designed to centralize all your business processes in one location. Instead of switching between multiple apps and managing complex integrations, Bitrix24 consolidates all the features you need into a single platform.
A full range of communications tools
Powerful project management capabilities
An in-depth CRM with analytics and insights
A cloud-based file storage database
Project templates and task automations
Communication is important in project management as it keeps all stakeholders aligned as they work toward the same goals. On a more granular level, it facilitates collaboration by clarifying each individual’s role, building trust, and streamlining decision-making.
Here are our top tips for effective project communication:
Effective communication aids in delivering project results by: