Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

The multi-faceted demands on and expectations on project managers, strategically and operationally, dictates that only men and women of all seasons ought to take on the responsibilities that goes with this field of work. Tactician, team leader, motivator and negotiator are only some of these key requirements.

In this piece, I’ll highlight an oft-ignored success factor for good project management, namely, the importance of effective and efficient communication in the project environment.

The important thing to also take cognizance of is that projects are not only focused on products and processes. People are key to all projects, either through association with the work and funding of the project or as the end users of the project’s outcome(s).

There are various dimensions to impactful and relevant project communications and project managers must clearly identify their key primary and secondary stakeholders as well as the method, frequency and key messages to be communicated to these audiences. It is also incumbent upon project managers to proactively devise a crisis communication plan, mapped to the important stakeholder communities, in the event that the project plan is derailed – and as all project managers know, this could happen for a veritable assortment of reasons.

Even if a project flow is seamless (do we really have such projects these days?), the project managers who communicate effectively to the appropriate audiences are more likely to keep their projects on track and ensure completion on time, within budget and at the required quality.

The reasons for this are obvious. Structured as well as informal communication by project managers keeps the entire project team motivated and focused on their objectives and deliverables as the expectations on his/her team would have already been articulated – clearly and ambiguously – to them.

It merits noting that efficacy as a project communicator extends beyond the communication of project roles, processes and risks. There’s an expectation that the project manager will also foster team unity and cohesion, diffuse pressure on the team and make the rigours of project work fun and enjoyable.

This is where the project manager’s communication capabilities – often viewed as a soft-skill compared to core project and technical skills – comes in handy. Communicating and celebrating project successes as well as recognising and acknowledging the extra-milers in the team goes a long way towards keeping the entire team inspired, motivated and committed to the task on hand.

Ensuring leadership communication about project planning and progress (or the lack thereof) is equally crucial, as is the identification and communication of risks and risk mitigators. Timeously communicating any issue that could result in any form of project creep (scope, time, budget, resourcing) is especially vital as it enables the relevant leadership structures, sponsor(s) and PMO to take the necessary steps and actions.

There are various other reasons to support the view that project managers need to communicate effectively and efficiently but the above should be enough to convince project managers that one vital key to unlocking their success is to … communicate, communicate, communicate.