Concise communications management is essential due to the fact that the pandemic irrevocably changed the way people work and communicate. As an example, people working remotely increased from 29% before the pandemic to 57% post pandemic. Subsequently, communication issues and frustration has risen with teams and employees spread across geographical locations.
In fact, 33% of people feel communication has become more difficult since the pandemic. However, the solution to this growing challenge is simple–a clear and concise communications management system within companies and between teams. A system decreases overwhelm and increases efficiency.
What is Communications Management?
Communications Management (CM) is a system that ensures timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, and storage of project information to all stake holders. In other words, CM is an umbrella term that includes the process and infrastructure AND the method of communicating via storage, methods, formats, and frequency.
Pitfalls with Lack of Communication Management
Without a system of management that governs communications within a team, common pitfalls occur. These challenges include ineffective communication with untimely and inaccurate communication, unnecessary frequency of chatting, texts, emails, difficult to locate project documents, and lack of direction overall. These specific problems lead to more problems within the team including inefficiency and burnout with individuals and the team as a whole.
Below are some common scenarios of lack of CM. They may seem familiar.
- Project update is sent out but did not include essential team members.
- Project meetings are held too often, out of obligation/habit when updates could be published. Results in taking team members away from their work to sit in an unnecessary meeting.
- A project file that is being worked on cross functionally is edited by one team member and sent to another. That updated file is not saved, and people begin working on an outdated version or must wait for someone to send the file back with a “one at a time” approach.
These just a few scenarios skimming the surface of a backlog of chaos.
As such, a system is necessary for long term and sustainable communication in a remote and global office environment. That system resides within a written document you create called a Communications Management Plan. The document acts as a central element or policy for the project team to follow in regards to various scenarios.
When Do you Establish a Plan?
Ideally a CMP or Communications Management Plan is established during the planning phase of the project. However, any time a CMP system can be developed is important. A CMP is a physical document referred by the team to as the “Communication Management Plan”. It can be created, distributed, relied upon, and implemented. New habits established early can easily replace old thought and behavior patterns. In short, it just takes a pause to consider the long term benefits of such a system.
Benefits of a Communications Management Plan
First, communication management is arguably the most important aspect of all the areas that project management covers. Effective and clear strategies for communicating critical project information to stakeholders is critical with large, diverse, and geographically separated teams.
To clarify, timely and accurate information saves significant amounts of time and money. In addition, it prevents frustration and burnout when employees need to track down needed information. Moreover, a plan keeps team members feeling more engaged and empowered, in turn, boosting productivity.
Conclusions and Next Steps
With more people working remotely and many working with global teams across different industries, the traditional communication methods are outdated and inefficient. Thankfully, organizations like PMI (Project Management Institute), software companies, and project practitioners developed well established processes, communication software, and tools that close these gaps. These platforms ensure project success.
Companies that develop software to improve communication continue to grow. These include Microsoft Teams, Jira, Workfront, and Miro. However, some focus on direct communication, while others focus on storage, organization, and collaboration. As such, not a one size fits all exists. Fortunately, the integration between software continues to improve at a quick pace.
To get you started, here are some examples so you can begin creating a clear and concise Communications Management Plan for your team and/or project. Since creating a plan saves time, decreases frustration, and provides clarity, why wait?