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4 Tutorials that teach Project Communications
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Project Communications

Project Communications

Author: Jeff Carroll

This lesson provides an overview of the key components of project communications.

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Source: Image of project status report, Creative Commons, Jeff Carroll; Image of male presenter, paper, three people meeting, callout box, easel, chat boxes, exclamation point sign, telescope, paper, arrow, silhouette of people with hands up, images by Video Scribe, License held by Jeff Carroll; Image of project status report, Creative Commons, Jeff Carroll; Image of male project sponsor, Creative Commons, Kelly Eddington.

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff, and in this lesson we'll cover project communications. It's the project manager's responsibility to be in constant communication with the project team and stakeholders, and we'll discuss how this can occur. A project manager should continually check with team members to make sure they have what they need to complete their work, and that nothing is acting as a roadblock.

Communication is critical because it helps identify issues early, which often makes troubleshooting problems easier. Some communication methods are email, meetings, presentations, and online communication tools. We'll discuss these in detail in a later lesson.

In fact, the most important aspect of a project manager's role can be communications. Since everyone else is focused on their tasks, it's the project manager's duty to provide the connection between all the tasks, and that's done with communication. That's why the project manager develops a communication plan in the planning phase of a project, and it's why that plan must then be implemented well by the project manager. Communications should be consistent and continuous throughout a project's life cycle.

One method that project managers use to communicate project status to the team and stakeholders is through a project status report. This report should be created and distributed on a regular schedule. This report contains the following details that communicate the current status of the project: the state of the schedule and the budget already consumed by a project; the progress on the deliverables; and any issues that arose during the last reporting cycle, and how those issues are currently being addressed.

A status report can use a dashboard style of reporting. This is when a color coding system is used to visually communicate the status of a deliverable. The color red indicates a deliverable that has a significant problem. If work is over budget, behind schedule, or the quality or performance of the deliverable does not meet expectations, then it should be coded red.

Yellow indicates that the deliverable might be in danger. For example, cost could be increasing, task could be slipping, or risks are likely to occur that impact the deliverable. And green indicates the deliverable is on track.

For any deliverable coded red, the project manager must address the issue in the status report. The issue should be described, and the actions either taken or to be taken to resolve the issue should be explained. Project team members, especially leaders, should assist the project manager with the creation of the status report. For example, they can provide information on the work that has been completed in the last reporting period and the focus of the work during the next period.

The project manager should work together with the project sponsor and the key stakeholders to determine when and for what periods status reports will be delivered and who will receive the status reports. This should be documented in the communication plan. It's the project manager's responsibility to store and archive each status report over the course of the project life cycle. Be sure that's stakeholders can access the old status reports since questions often arise about the history of a project and the actions taken to resolve issues.

All right. Nicely done. In this lesson, we learned how a project manager handles communications, we discussed how to create status reports and use the dashboard method to visually indicate deliverable status, we learned how to determine the reporting periods for a status report, and we know the project manager needs to save each status report in a location that stakeholders can access. Thanks for your time and have a great day.

Terms to Know
Status Report

A formal document describing the progress of a project during a specific time period.