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  Taking Advantage of New Communication Opportunities in Project Management
by Brian M. McCutcheon

As today’s business organizations continue to become more complex and globalized, the fundamentals of communication and project management are changing. To be successful, today’s project managers need to consider how changing organizations impact project management, and how they can take advantage of these changes to manage more effectively.

In the past, project communication was highly dependent on direct, in-person contact. Remote communication was handled through expensive phone calls or slow, written letters.

A project’s success depended on a recurring cycle of realignment, usually with regular project meetings every few months. Key decision makers would meet, sync-up on progress and goals, and negotiate any project changes. Thorough, deterministic planning was a top priority, because making late course corrections was usually too difficult, expensive, and embarrassing. What was often lost was common understanding and shared vision.

The Internet age has introduced new complexity as well as new opportunities to the world of project management. Companies today can choose from a huge range of communications options, including cell phones, e-mail, instant messaging, voice mail, web share, and other media. Today’s communications are:

• More spontaneous, interactive, and immediate
• Easier to trace, providing more accountability
• More distributed and disjointed
• More frequent—at less cost

A Shifting Paradigm
The explosion in communications options has had a dramatic impact on project planning. Organizations are moving from deterministic planning, with comprehensive, “everything up front” project plans, toward more adaptive and proactive planning. As the pace of communication and change accelerates, an effective project manager must plan for continual course correction. Their organization must be ready, willing, and able to turn on a dime.

Today, the value of project management lies in creating a common understanding and focus among project teams. Project managers must be able to juggle not only time and resources, but manage relationships and context as well.

Today’s communication options provide more opportunity to keep everyone on the same page. However, they also introduce new pitfalls, with more opportunity for the blind to lead the blind. An effective project manager will be aware that creating a shared vision among team members is key to success.
 
 
 


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