How Important Are Communication Plans for Project Managers?

While they’re called project managers, these professionals are primarily people managers. Projects consist of teams of people, often working on separate parts of the same project. Without effective communication in even one area of a project, the entire effort can go off the rails quickly. Understanding the importance of project communication and the knowledge areas needed for this job are essential for managing people and activities effectively, obtaining better results, and being noticed by your superiors.

Creating the Project

Before a project manager brings a team together, she must first scope the project, which involves learning the ultimate goal, deadlines, resources available, and all other aspects necessary for its successful completion.

During this phase of the project, a manager explains each part of the project to her team. Not only does she discuss the goals, but she also gives some instructions on how to perform the work.

Necessary Listening Skills

Communication is a two-way street. A successful project manager doesn’t just talk – she also listens. During the first meeting of her team, after she’s explained the initial project outline, she tells her team members she wants their feedback, input and ideas as to how they can contribute.

Teams are often put together with experts in different areas. The project manager must be able to pull information out of these experts and decide what’s important, what’s affordable (based on the project budget), and what can be done by the deadline.

Using Communications Tools

One of the biggest competencies for a project manager is effective team member communication. Before she meets with a team, a project manager decides what tools she will use to communicate with team members. This usually involves using a cloud-based communication tool that everyone can access and update 24/7, according to the experts at Workable.

Some of these tools include programs and apps such as Trello, Slack, Pipefy, Zoom, GoToMeeting and Google Docs. In addition, the project manager might use texts, emails, phone calls, memos, reports and proposals. Whichever communications tools she chooses, the project manager must be an expert at using them.

Setting Goals and Benchmarks

One way project managers communicate is by setting the goals, deadlines, objectives and outcomes for the project. To keep projects on track, the program manager establishes benchmarks and key performance indicators, creating a project documentation list that is monitored and updated throughout the project, as recommended by the Project Management Institute.

If Team B can’t finish its work on time until receiving a deliverable from Team A, the project manager must give Team A a deadline to get its work to Team B. She then keeps in touch with Team A to see if it is on track or behind. If she finds out the team is falling behind, she communicates with all the other team members to determine how this will affect their work.

Presenting the Finished Work

Another large part of a project manager’s job is the creation of a presentation to deliver the project to its owner. This often includes creating a written document, making a PowerPoint presentation, and developing visual materials to support the project deliverable. A project manager needs to be a good writer and speaker and someone who can use the necessary tech to create the deliverables.