Effectiveness Of Communication In Project Management
“A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result” (PMI, 2008, pg. 5). “A project is a sequence of unique, complex and connected activities having one goal or purpose and that must be completed by a specific time, within budget, and according to specification” (Wysocki and McGary, 2003, p. 3). A project comprises of number of activities that must be completed in some specific order or sequence according to their technical requirements. Activities in a project are unique, complex and connected in a sense that no two activities can occur under the same conditions which make them unique; the activities are not simple, and the output of one activity becomes the input to another which makes them connected (Wysocki and McGary, 2003). “The most important difference between the management control of on-going operations and the management control of projects is that the on-going operations continue indefinitely, whereas a project starts, moves forward from one milestone to the next, and then stops” (Anthony and Govindarajan, 2005, p. 790).
“Projects are temporary, unique and require progressive elaboration” (Gardiner, 2005, p. 2). The first characteristic is that projects have a definite life span and they exist for a limited time varying from few days to several years although it’s end products may sustain indefinitely. This temporary nature of project indicates a definite beginning and an end. The end is reached when the objectives of the project are achieved; the need for project no longer exists or the objectives of the project cannot be met due to lack of resources and the project is terminated. The second characteristic is that each and every project will be different from other projects in their own way. The last characteristic is that as the project progresses, work required is slowly defined with information being added over time (Gardiner, 2005).
A project usually has a single objective and the time horizon is the end of the project. The objective of a project is to produce a satisfactory product, within a specified time period, and at an optimum cost (Burke, 2007). Projects often involve trade-offs between scope, schedule, and cost (Gardiner, 2005). Less scope might mean less costs or a shortened schedule leads to overtime and thus increasing costs. Plans for projects can be changed frequently and drastically. A project begins when management has reviewed the nature of what is to be done in the project and approved it. The project ends when its objective has been accomplished, or when it has been cancelled. Projects can be of various durations. Some project may last for a few days, a few weeks, or several years. Its content can be similar to work done before, or unlike anything ever done before (Burke, 2007). Most projects start small, build up to a peak activity and then taper off as completion near (Anthony and Govindarajan, 2005).
An international project is a project that involves multiple locations, entities, organizations and business units (Lientz and Rea, 2003). “International projects typically are simultaneously multicultural projects relating to diverse cultures be it national, organizational, or functional cultures” (Köster, 2010, p.3). In international projects, stakeholders and organizations who have different cultural and educational background work together. International projects are different from national projects because of language and dialect variations; religious practices; legal, regulatory and reporting requirements; technology level differences in different areas (Lientz and Rea, 2003). The difference between standard projects and international projects are shown in the table below:
Multiple organizations and departments
System and technology
Single and common culture
Multiple, varied cultures
Can be focussed on the project
Many other competing demands for resources
More easily understood
More complex to understand
Table 1 Comparison of standard and international projects (Lientz and Rea, 2003)
In short, a project can be considered as a series of activities and tasks that have
A specific objective
Defined start and end dates
Consume human and nonhuman resources
2.2. Project Life Cycle
A project can be considered to have a life-cycle that is divided into four phases. Those phases are: Initiation and definition, Planning and development, Execution and control and finally Closure (Gardiner, 2005; Burke, 2007; Keeling, 2000). A clear understanding of these phases permits the project manager to control resources effectively to achieve the project objectives.
Figure 2 Project Life Cycle (Gardiner, 2005)
2.2.1 Initiation and definition
This phase represents the start of the project. This is a conceptual phase which includes the preliminary evaluation of an idea (Kerzner, 2006). This phase sets the scope of the project (Gardiner, 2005; Keeling, 2000). It forms the basis for deciding if a particular function or feature is within the scope of the project. This is the phase where new ideas and options are considered and tested to ensure the project objectives can be achieved making use of resources effectively (Burke, 2007). The project ideas are usually derived from the identification of a demand, an available resource or a need (Potts, 2002). The initiation and definition phase is mainly about formulating goals and strategies (Keeling, 2000).
2.2.2 Planning and development
During the planning phase, the time plan is set into detail and the planning of the project is conducted with great accuracy. In the project planning phase, a project planning team specifies the rough estimates that were made when it was decided to implement the project. The project planning phase is often the most challenging phase for a project manager as he/she needs to make an educated guess of the stakeholders to be involved, resources and equipment needed to complete the project (Wysocki and McGray, 2003). The project manager needs to plan communications and procurement activities and create a comprehensive suite of project plans which set out a clear project roadmap ahead (Gardiner, 2005). Planning helps in reducing uncertainty, increases understanding of the goals and objectives to be achieved and improves resource efficiency (Wysocki and McGray, 2003).
Thus detailed specifications for the product, time schedules, and cost budget are prepared and a management control system, a task control system and an organization chart developed. Furthermore a responsible manager is identified for each work package. Even on projects with little complexity a plan for planning exists and the planning process itself can be seen as a subproject (Anthony and Govindarajan, 2005).
2.2.3 Execution and control
This is the phase in which the plans are put into operation (Keeling, 2000). The rate of expenditure is at its peak in this phase (Gardiner, 2005; Burke, 2007). Executing the plan involves four steps (Wysocki and McGray, 2003)
Identify the specific resources that will be required to accomplish the work defined in the plan.
Assign workers to activities.
Schedule activities with specific start and end dates.
Launch the plan.
No matter how attentive the team is when creating the plan, the project work may not go according to plan. There may always be some schedule slips (Wysocki and McGray, 2003). To minimize this, the progress of the project should be regularly monitored. This is usually done in the controlling phase. Completed work is measure against the plan to monitor the progress of the project and avoid potential problems which may occur in the future.
Closing a project means that the project has been completed and the results of the project can be submitted to the client. The closing phase evaluates what occurred during the project and provides historical information for use in planning and executing later projects (Keeling, 2000; Kerzner, 2006).
2.3. Role of Project Manager
The role of project manager is to attain the project objectives (Gardiner, 2005). The project manager must be experienced, capable, and competent in getting the project work done on time, within budget and according to specification (Wysocki and McGray, 2003). The project manager must simultaneously see to the needs of the sponsor and other stakeholders, manage the project life cycle and the performance of the project team, including his or her performance (Gardiner, 2005). It is a role that involves a mix of abilities, combining management with leadership and political awareness (Pinto, 2000). The project manager is responsible for coordinating and integrating activities across multiple, functional lines. The integration activities performed by the project manager include activities which are necessary to develop a project plan; execute a plan and to make changes to the plan (Kerzner, 2006). A project manager must be able to understand the project detail but manage from the overall perspective (PMI, 2008). As an architect of the project plan, the project manager must provide complete task definitions; resource requirement definitions; major time table milestones; definition of end item quality and reliability requirements and the basis for performance measurement (Kerzner, 2006).
Project managers influence people to take action (Gardiner, 2005). This requires an ability to communicate in a style appropriate for the individual concerned. If communication in the project is of low quality, the project will be more likely to fail (Armstrong, 1992). People working within a project always communicate but the quality of the communication must be high. The purpose and direction of the project lie on the ability of the project manager to communicate well with the partners within the project (Briner et al., 1996). One important role of the project leader is to create active communication among the project members by staying in touch with individuals and passing information between different members and between them and the funding organization (Briner et al., 1996). The project manager must be able to convert the inputs (i.e. resources such as capital, materials, equipment’s, facilities, information, personnel etc.) into output of products, services and ultimately profits (Kerzner, 2006). In order to do this, the project manager needs strong communicative and interpersonal skills, must become familiar with the operations of each line organization and must have knowledge of the technology used (Kerzner, 2006). Project leader should have high level of communication skills to be able to successfully manage with the project. The project manager’s role is like a spider weaving the web and should be the centre of communication and events (Briner et al., 1996).
One of the major responsibilities of the project manager is planning. If project planning is performed correctly, then it is conceivable that the project manager will work himself out of the job because the project can run itself (Kerzner, 2006).The chief executive role of the project manager involves more than that of being accountable for the activities of the project (Cusworth and Franks, 1993). It implies that the manager is expected to make things happen by active involvement. The manager role as co-ordinator is vital in co-ordinating the efforts of the project team and the stakeholders. The project manager should define the ethics, norms and values of their project team, establishing the atmosphere of the organization and the way that the various project tasks are approached. The project manager’s role as a diplomat requires high level of sensitivity and good negotiating skills (Cusworth and Franks, 1993). He/she must be able to negotiate the relationship between the project and its environment and must be able to ensure the political support.
The project manager along with his/her team should brainstorm to decide who the various stakeholders in the project might be. The project manager should go out and talk to all of those stakeholders and develop the necessary interviewing and probing skills which enable him/her to draw out of them what their expectations are. Often, the stakeholders are uncertain about what they want (Potts, 2002; PMI, 2008). The project manager should engage in a dialogue with them to help them to think through their expectations (Jandt, 2007). The project manager’s initial consideration of stakeholder expectations will help him/her to begin to understand the kinds of resources the project might require and will ensure positive outcome (PMI, 2008). Talking about resources does not mean only talking about tangible resources of money, time and materials, but also about those intangible resources of technical skills, non-technical managerial and communication skills, and the vital intangible of commitment and support from particular people within the project organisation and outside it (Jandt, 2007).
The project manager should need to map the risk that may occur in a project by going through a structured process (PMI, 2008). Such process might include: brainstorm possible risks; considering what was wrong in similar projects previously; clustering into related topics; weighting-seriousness and probability; focusing on the very serious and highly probable; defining the project type, and review typical risks; planning how to run the project with the risks in mind. Highlight where in the project the risks will be most crucial; deciding how to reduce the risks so that the chances and consequences of failure are minimised.
The project can be considered as temporary organization because it has limited time frame, limited budget, specific goals and activities (Maylor, 1999). Some of such temporary organizations might be inter-organizational projects that involve many organizations having different specialties or expertise (Maylor, 1999). In such projects, it is very important for the project manager to ensure the flow of information from the different organizations involved within the project. The flow of information is vital for the success of such project or organization (Burke, 2007). Since these innovation projects are of interdisciplinary and innovative, the share of experiences, knowledge, and the cooperation in different stages of the project development become absolute necessary for its success.
Managing international projects that are of multi organizational type is not an easy task, especially when these organizations are from different technical, cultural, political backgrounds and have different management style in their approach for handling a task (Lientz and Rea, 2003; Koster, 2010). A careful and detailed preparation of projects, especially for inter organizational ones due to their complexity, in their planning phase is vital for their success. The manager should have high experience in planning such projects.
To summarize things up, the project manager should have the following attributes
Ability to select and develop an operational team.
Leadership skills and management ability.
Ability to anticipate problems, solve problems and make decision.
Ability to integrate the project stakeholders.
Ability to plan, expedite and get things done.
Ability to negotiate, persuade and make deals.
Understand the environment within which the project is being managed.
Ability to review monitor and apply control.
Ability to keep the stakeholders and client happy.
COMMUNICATION: ITS ROLE AND EFFECTIVENESS IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT
3.1 Definition of Communication
Communication is a process in which information is transmitted from a source to a receiver through various channels (JPIM, 2000). Communication means act of transferring information, exchange of information, message which is either written or verbal, and an idea for conveying thoughts effectively (Kerzner, 2001). A good definition of project communication is “Project communication management includes the process required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval and ultimate disposition of project information” (PMI, 2008, p. 243).
In a project environment, communication refers to the exchange or sharing of messages and information to convey meaning and knowledge between project manager, internal and the external stakeholders (Verma, 1996). Communication is a process involving the exchange of message and the creation of meaning. No two individuals ever attach the same meaning to a message or symbol. Effectiveness of communication depends on the degree to which the individuals attach similar meanings to the messages exchanged. Stated differently, communication is effective when individuals are able to minimize misunderstandings. “To say that meaning in communication is never totally same for all communicators is not to say that communication is impossible or even difficult – only that is imperfect” (Fisher, 1978, p. 257). When individuals communicate, they attach meaning to messages they construct and transmit to others. They also attach meaning to messages they receive from others.
There are different types of communication such as verbal, written and non-verbal (Verma, 1996; Mehta, 2008). Verbal communication gives a lot of flexibility to the speaker. It is mainly used in face to face meetings, group meetings and over the telephone. While communicating verbally, the speaker can communicate with voice as well as body language. Written communication on the other hand is usually more precise (Mehta, 2008). Written communication can be in the form of letters, memos, notices, emails, reports, proposals memoranda etc. Another type of communication is the non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication refers to a speaker’s actions and attributes that are not purely verbal. It can be reflected in the way people dress, their tone and stance while talking, their gestures, facial expressions and their body language (Verma, 1996).
3.2 Importance of Communication
Communication is an important skill for project managers to accomplish effective project management (Analoui, 1993). This skill is vital because part of management is motivating people to perform their assigned duties to the best of their ability (Perret, 1982; Scott, 1989). “Effective communication is the key to success for the individual as well as for the project” (Verma, 1996, p.23). By using communication skills, the project manager help to plan, direct, control and coordinate their operations throughout the project life cycle (Verma, 1996). Most of the communication activities of project managers involve interpersonal communication and project communications, sharing information with the project team members and other stakeholders. Communication is the nerve system of leadership, teamwork, cooperation and control. It determines the quality of relationships, levels of satisfaction, the extent of project’s success or failure.
Cleland and King (1988) in a study of fifty project managers found that managers named communication as one of the vital ingredients for successful project implementation. Moreover, Morris and Hough (1986) also argues that clear communication is necessary for project success and that effective communication is the key to high staff morale which is vital for project success. According to Ruuska (1996, p.67) “More than half of the management problems in projects are more or less caused by poorly looked-after communication”. Communication acts as a resource as well as tool in project management. As a resource, communication can be compared to other project resources such as time, money, people and equipment. It should be taken into consideration when planning along with the resources. On the other hand, communication is a tool which can be used for effective utilization of other project resources. Communication helps in developing relationships in the organization (Ruuska, 1996). A project manager uses communication more than any other element in the project management process to ensure that the team members are working cohesively on project problems and opportunities (Verma, 1996).
Communication plays an important role in connecting different parts of an organization together and its external environment (Taylor and Watling, 1979). In an organization, communication is needed to inform the members about the on-going status of the project. For an effective management, it is necessary to have a two way communication channel, to and fro in and across a project organization. A good communication channel can also allow progress to be monitored; difficulties to be reported back to the executive management and expert specialist can advise on technical or commercial problems to be sought by any participant (Keeling, 2003).
Communication plays an important role in influencing the whole organization that may be affected and not only those immediately involved in the change. However, the importance of communication is often neglected in many projects (Toney and Power, 1997). Furthermore, lack of communication also results in many failures in change projects (Orr and McKenzie, 1992). Failure to maintain adequate information flows, conflict among project staff or between project administrators and professional staff, as being among some of the causes for inadequate execution, operation and supervision in projects (Rondinelli, 1977). These problems which are in essence communication problems are likely contributors to project failure. Hammond (1990) states that if the intrinsic difficulties such as limitation of funds are taken away, the reason some projects fail is because of problems with people, problems that effective communication could go a long way in solving. Lack of effective communication may lead to misunderstanding. Frustration can be seen in employers due to ineffective or poor communication and may result in conflicts. Communication breakdown is a prime cause of discord or conflict (Keeling, 2003).
3.3 Model of Communication
A basic model of communication is shown below:
Description: C:Documents and SettingsmnmbaramDesktopcommunication model.JPG
Source: Project Management Institute, 2008.
This model shows how communication is transferred between the sender and the receiver. The model includes the following components:
Encode. The process of putting an idea or a thought into a symbol.
Message. The encoded thought or idea.
Medium. Means by which the encoded message is transmitted.
Noise. Anything that distorts the message.
Decode. To translate the message back into thoughts and ideas.
The components in the communication model should be taken into account when discussing project communication. The sender determines what information he or she intends to share, encodes this information in the form of a message, and then transmits the message as a signal to the receiver. The destination decodes the transmitted message to determine its meaning and then responds accordingly. If the message decoded is the same as the sender intended, communication is successful (Jandt, 2007). Whenever information is sent from the sender to the receiver, the sender is responsible for making the information clear to the receiver so that the receiver understands it clearly. The receiver is responsible for making sure that the information is received is in its original form and understood correctly. In order to make sure that the message is sent and understood properly, feedback is required (Verma, 1996).
3.4 Channels of Communication
Three basic channels of communication in a project environment exist (Verma, 1996). They are upward communication, downward communication and lateral communication.
3.4.1. Upward communication
This type of communication is called subordinate/manager communication (Fielding, 2006). It involves communication from the lowest positions in the company to the highest positions. It contains information that higher management needs to evaluate the overall performance of the project for which they are responsible (Verma, 1996). This communication is in the form of reports, memoranda or messages about individual problems and performance; company policies and practices and specific staff problems.
3.4.2 Downward Communication
This communication involves managers communicating down the line to subordinates. It provides direction and control for project team members and other employees. It may include information such as missions and goals of the organisation, feedback to subordinates on their performance; procedures to be followed etc (Fielding, 2006).
3.4.3 Lateral communication
This communication takes place between departments in a company or project manager and his/her peers (Verma, 1996). This communication is in the form of reports on the activities of departments to keep each other informed and information to managers on company policies and progress so that they are able to make informed decisions (Fielding, 2006).
3.5 Effectiveness of Communication
Effective communication involves minimizing misunderstandings. To be effective in communicating with people, everyone must be mindful. Communicating effectively and appropriately are important aspects of being perceived as a skilled communicator (Gudykunst and Kim, 1992). Communication is only effective if the following two conditions are met (Rogers, 1976 cited in JPIM, p. 364). Firstly, the source must be willing to share the information. However, such willingness may be absent at times because the source may not be able to transmit the information, is reluctant to transmit the information or thinks that the information is irrelevant. Secondly, the information transmitted is only effective if it has an effect on the receiver. The effect maybe either change in knowledge, change in attitude or a change in behavior.
Ineffective communication can occur for a variety of reasons when individuals communicate. They may not encode the message in a way that it can be understood by others, people may misinterpret what they say or both can occur simultaneously. Effective communicators are those who are motivated; knowledgeable and possess certain communication skills (Samovar and Porter, 2004, pg. 303). Project managers should be motivated; should have a positive attitude towards communication event and they should put every effort to bring about constructive results. They should have the knowledge of what topics, words or meanings are required in a situation. They should know how to assemble, plan and perform content knowledge in a particular situation. Their communication skills should be high enough to accomplish their goals (Samovar and Porter, 2004, pg. 303).
For effective communication in project management, it is essential that communication should be focused. If used effectively, can reduce non-productive effort, avoid duplication and help eliminate mistakes (Clarke, 1998). Communicating effectively helps in identification of problems, helps in generating ideas leading to better solutions and helps in dealing with uncertainty. Moreover, it encourages team-work, motivates the team and ensures that every member of the team is involved (Gannon, 1994). Not only effective communication is essential for project implementation and control, it is a powerful weapon against stakeholder’s conflict. Communication usually fails for the following reasons; not having a clear goal in mind; not establishing relationship; being impatient; not hearing what others have to say; overabundance of ego; assuming that others have the same information on the subject that you have; mistaking interpretations for facts; failure to analyse and handle resistance (Ritz, 1990).
3.6 Communication in stages of Project Life Cycle
Communication is important during various phases of the project life cycle. During the initiation/planning phase, communication planning involves determining the information and communication needs of the stakeholders: who wants what information, when will they need it, and how will it be given to them (PMI, 2008). Some other things to be given consideration are the methods of communication to be utilized during the project. These are the technologies or methods used to transfer information back and forth among project entities. Different forms of communication will need to be utilized for communicating with different types of stakeholders and different occasions. Different assumptions and constraints that will affect the project also need to be carefully thought out. Once these factors are kept in mind, develop and document a communication plan that can be shared with the entire set of stakeholders, including team members, management customers and vendors. This type of methodical planning can lead to a carefully constructed project communication plan (Mehta, 2008). The plan should detail out what type of communication will take place during the project, who will receive what type of information, where the information will be stored, the schedule of communication such as status reports and project team meetings. Communication with stakeholders from start to the finish of a project is essential to all project management (Verma, 1996).
Once the initial communication guidelines and expectations of the project have been established, the communication plan can be executed. During the execution phase of the project, the three main communication functions are information distribution, performance reporting and project control. “Information distribution involves making needed information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner. It includes implementing communication management plan and responding to unexpected requests for information” (PMI, 1998, p. 106). Some of the essential tools and technologies for information distribution are communication skills and information distribution system. Many of the project deliverables and records result from this function such as meeting minutes and decision documents.
Various tools and techniques can be used for performance reporting such as performance reviews, variance analysis, traffic light reports, earned value analysis and trend analysis (Scott and billing, 1998). The output that results from performance reporting are performance reports and project change requests that is generated due to corrective action that needs to be taken to address a variance from the original plans or additional customer needs. All of these functions are useful for project control. Keeping the project on track according to the project plan, budget and estimates that have been laid out is of prime importance. If the project needs to vary from any of these established plans, the project information distribution system should be utilized. The project stakeholders need to be informed and new expectations need to be set. Following a set of established project management processes can be helpful in identifying events that are not planned for. When unexpected events occur, assessing the impact and quickly communicating them to the affected people according to your established communication plan can be efficiently addressed them. Some simple things that a project manager needs to keep in mind regarding how to communicate are thinking about what is to be accomplished via the communication, determining how to communicate, appealing to those being affected and giving and getting feedback (Scott and Billing, 1998).
During the completion and close out phase of the project, there are various communication functions. First administrative closeout needs to be done. Different companies may have different set of expectation of this. It may involve financial and contractual closeout. The project success should be documented and communicated. For longer projects, administrative closure may be done after every major phase. To be properly closed out of the project, deliverables must be accepted and signed off by the customers according to pre-established criteria. A session should be scheduled to obtain feedback regarding the project from both customers and project team. Another important task during closeout phase is customer satisfaction surveys (Verma, 1996; Mehta, 2008).
3.7. Communication Plan Development
The communication plan documents the information requirements of stakeholders and defines the procedure to meet those requirements. It pulls the project stakeholders together (Burke, 2007). The plan details what, when, and how the information is collected and reported. Preparing the project communication plan assists the project team in identifying internal and external stakeholders and enhances communication among all parties involved in the project. The project team writes a communication plan to ensure that an effective communication strategy is built into the project delivery process. The plan is a framework and should be a living, evolving document that can be revised when appropriate. The communication plan is part of the project management plan (Burke, 2007). Project stakeholders have information and communication needs. Identifying the information needs of the stakeholders and determining a suitable means of meeting those need are important for project success (PMI, 2008). The communication plan should outline the following;
Identifying stakeholders is the process of identifying all the people or organizations impacted by the project and documenting relevant information regarding their interests, involvement and impact on project success. Project stakeholders are persons and organizations such as customers, sponsors, the performing organization and the public that are actively involved in the project or whose interest may positively or negatively affect the execution or completion of the project (PMI, 2008). It is therefore important to identify the main stakeholders with whom communication is essential.
Lines of communication
A line of communication may be defined as a formal or informal link between two or more people, departments, companies, suppliers, contractors and stakeholders. It tends to follow the organisation chart, which not only outlines the project manager’s position but also implies responsibility, authority and who reports to whom (Burke, 2007). Every effort should be made to include all the key people in the project’s lines of communication.
Scope of communication
Excessive care should be taken while communicating with the project team members, contractors and stakeholders. If too much information is shared, they will be overloaded and are unlikely to read it. However if information is too much filtered, the project manager may be accused of being manipulative (Burke, 2007). The objective should be to communicate sufficient information for the recipient to solve problems, make good decisions and feel involved and part of the project. “The art of good communication is to strike a balance with the value of information supplied against the cost and time it takes to collect, process and disseminate the information” (Burke, 2007, p. 204).
Methods of Communication
Different forms of communication are appropriate in different project situations and for different participants. The following are among the important forms:
Direct communication: Face-to-face meetings and consultations, either in groups or one-on-one are useful for defining and addressing issues, problems, or complex matters (Scott and Billing, 1998). Direct communication is valuable for its interactive nature, which promotes brainstorming and creative problem solving, and consensus building. Direct communication also lends weight to important announcements, actions, and decisions. Direct communication is often the best opportunity for fostering clear understanding (Wysocki and McGray, 2003).
Telecommunication: Telephone calls, teleconferences, and two-way radio are useful for sharing information quickly and connecting people when schedules or geographical distance make face-to-face meetings impractical (Scott and Billing, 1998). With the proliferation of cellular phones, pagers, and other wireless devices, telecommunication is enhancing its most considerable advantage which is immediacy (Wysocki and McGray, 2003).
Written communication: Memos, E-mail, facsimiles, reports, newsletter, and other documents and publications are valuable for transmission of information that requires more formality than a conversation or phone call (Verma, 1996). Written documents (in paper and electronic formats) are the principal form in which project decisions, agreements, and actions are recorded. E-mail, though often used with frequency and casual nature of a telephone call, is a permanent record (Scott and Billing, 1998).
Frequency of Communication
The effectiveness of project coordination increases with the frequency of good communication (Wysocki and McGray, 2003). Frequent contact provides project partners and stakeholders with increased opportunity to assess workloads, identify critical path items, and develop solutions to problems. Frequent contact can serve as a backup for other types of project communication. For example, a meeting offers team members the opportunity to clarify what may have been said in a letter. Frequent communication aids participants in building a common project vocabulary that further enhances understanding.
But, as crucial as communication is to a project success, there is a distinct danger of over-communicating (Wysocki and McGray, 2003; Kerzner, 2006). For example, if routine information is distributed widely regardless of its importance, the result may be that important issues are ignored. Over-communication detracts the project team’s effectiveness because people have to spend time trying to figure out if the information they just received is important. Good communication requires judgement in determining how much is enough though over-communicating is preferred to under-communicating.