Project Communications: keep this workstream front and centre

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

As many of us have been frequently reminded over the years, the key to a long-lasting and mutually agreeable relationship is communication.

You could say the same about successful programmes – communication between team members, external suppliers and internal stakeholders is essential if the outcome of the effort is both to be demonstrably successful, and to be perceived as successful.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. We join a project team early in the programme initiation stage. There’s a shared space (if it’s 2012, Sharepoint, if it’s 2020, Confluence!) where we can see the project team, its structure, its purpose and, no doubt, a stated intent that there will be regular communications keeping all parties updated on what’s happening, what’s presented an unexpected challenge, and what’s changed.

Forward wind 4 months and, although 2 of the key people have changed and the project has already corrected course somewhat due to a new business requirement, the information in that project kick-off space still has the old org chart and not much by way of updates.

I think perhaps the Communication Workstream sometimes gets overlooked as being slightly nebulous, a soft requirement in a world of pressured deliverables. But it really is essential for validating progress, ensuring adherence to a common goal, and for uncovering issues and risks which might otherwise end up siloed in a single group within the programme. And that’s not to mention the hygiene stuff – wouldn’t it be great if, every time someone new joins the team, there really is an up-to-date set of information about how to book a meeting room, get a software license approved, what the rules of engagement are in terms of ways of working. Crazy idea, huh?

So, next time you’re involved in a project kick-off, don’t just put Comms down as a forgotten item in a list of PMO actions. Make sure it has its own workstream, that it has purpose, and your programme will be all the better for it.

Chris Creissen is a Partner at The Impact Team

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