Wednesday, 28 September 2016 11:05

Top Project Management Communication Tools

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Over the course of writing my 2 books on project communications, I get asked continually “What is the minimum set of communication tools I can use on my projects?”

Yes, some project managers believe it or not just want to do the minimum and I get that, so I thought I would address it. So what I have done here gives you the minimum set of tools you should use on your projects.

Related Article: Project Management Related Tools and Services to Consider for 2016 and Beyond

These tools include:

1. Project Organization Chart
2. Circle of Communications Chart
3. Communication Requirements Matrix
4. Role Report Matrix
5. Project Calendar
6. Project Report Creation Calendar
7. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
8. Scatter Chart
9. Project Newsletter

Wow, that’s it, that’s all you need? Yes, remember we said a minimum set of tools for your project. I did not say this is the only thing you need, but this will give you a good start. Let’s spend a minute and talk about each tool and why they are important to use on your projects.

1. Project Organization Chart

Every project manager needs to have some tool to outline who is on the project. You will be asked for this continually and have an org chart to see the who’s who of the project make sense.

2. Circle of Communications Chart

The Circle of Communications Chart is going to be an amazing replacement for a Project Organization chart if your company won’t accept an org chart with the project manager on the top. Some organizations are fully that way and won’t let you create a project organization chart, so you a Circle of Communications Chart in place of an org chart.

3. Communication Requirements Matrix

The Communication Requirements Matrix is used to document the conversations that the project manager has between startup-ec3cb20d21_640the various roles on the project. For example, when the project manager sits and talks to the customer about the various reports they want to see on the project, the project manager documents that conversation in the Communication Requirements Matrix.

4. Role Report Matrix

The Role report matrix focuses on who get’s what report and when. This tool is great when you are trying to determine who is getting status reports, financial reports, newsletters...etc. When project managers spend the time and document who gets the information and when it goes a long way to communicating effectively on their projects.

5. Project Calendar

The project calendar is one of the most important documents on the project and one that I have used for many years. I simply don’t start a project without a calendar and think it is critical to the success of running a project. The project is just like you think, it is a calendar where you document the major events of the project. Kick-off Meetings, major milestones are all major events that go into the project calendar.

6. Project Report Creation Calendar

One of the advantages of using a Report Generation calendar is to understand when you create your project reports. If you don’t spend the time and document exactly when reports are created and then sent, you will never be able to catch up. Think about all the work you have to run a project, now think about having a tool that documents exactly when reports are needed each week, month, quarter. I use the Role Report Matrix as my starting point, and then I start to create the Project Report Creation Calendar and when used together makes for a very powerful communication tool.

7. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The WBS is one of the most important communication tools for a project. Project managers should ensure that their projects have one and they are communicating it regularly. The WBS is the best graphical tool to document the scope of the project and if the project task is not on the WBS then it is not in scope for the project. It is that simple.

8. Scatter Chart

The scatter chart is used for a variety of reasons for projects and should be a tool a project manager turns to when they want to report data. I think the scatter chart is a very powerful tool for project managers. When project managers need to report on paired numerical data, or you a source that has multiple values, then utilize a Scatter Chart for reporting purposes.

9. Project Newsletter

The project newsletter is one of the tools that seems to be falling by the wayside these days and I believe it is an important tool for every project manager. The value of the project newsletter is that it brings both project status and the people side together in one tool. If you have project status, it goes into the project newsletter, but if Bob tester is having a 15-year work anniversary you also add that to the project newsletter. The Project Newsletter is one of the only communication tools where you can merge work items and personal items into one document. Don’t underestimate the power of this document and start creating these for your projects today!

 

Don't miss William at ProjectWorld*BA World Vancouver, October 3-6.  William will be speaking at 2 sessions on October 3 - Project Communication Tools - The Guide to Communicating Effectively and Social Media & Project Management.  

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William Dow

Bill Dow, PMP, is a recognized expert in Project Management by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for specifically developing and managing Project Management Offices (PMOs.) His extensive experience with Project Management and PMOs have enabled him to co-author several comprehensive books available through Amazon.com. Bill has taught at the college level for more than 15 years in Washington State, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, and has worked at Microsoft for more than 10 years. He has spoken at multiple Project Management Institute (PMI) conferences, breakfasts and events nationally. Projectmanagement.com and projecttimes.com host numerous articles by Bill currently. As a PMP and subject matter expert, Bill is available to author white papers, articles and blog posts on specific topics relating to the trends within Project Management.

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