Nowadays, as seen in many industries, outsourcing has become well-accepted in the project management area. Reasons for outsourcing can vary from industry to industry. In project management, outsourcing is primarily due to the lower budget that many projects have. Nonetheless, the key area to focus on is the “communication barriers that exist when a project manager works at the client’s location and manages an off-shore team by obtaining the client’s scope.” From this aspect, the article, “Communication Barriers in the Client’s Workplace and Possible Solutions,” highlights several communication problems along with possible solutions.
Below you will see a highlight of these problems categorized under four (4) processes along with possible solutions. These problems are also defined in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fourth Edition (PMI, 2008).
- Identify Stakeholders
- Plan Communications
- Distribute Information
- Manage Stakeholder Expectations
Identify Stakeholders and Plan Communications
– Stakeholder register
- In the article, the author suggests to have a stakeholder register for every project. The stakeholder register should include the name of the stakeholder, the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholder in the project, the stakeholder’s expectations of the project, and cases in which the stakeholder needs to be contacted and how.
– Arrange weekly meetings highlighting the exact agenda
- The project manager needs to determine frequency of the meetings and media, i.e. face-to-face meetings, conference calls, etc.
– Plan and execute the right mode of communication
- The author suggests to use email communication for complex scenarios, and to use face-to-face communication for quick and immediate responses. As for face-to-face communications, the project manager should also send a “re-cap” email of discussions, tasks, decisions, etc. as a best practice.
– Access to required information, i.e. client’s network, shared folder, etc.
Manage Stakeholder Expectations
– Negotiate and influence the stakeholder so that certain critical project meetings can still be conducted in the absence of the key stakeholders
– Accept the fact of how the client works and try to adapt to such working cultures
The possible solutions seen above can easily be applied to any project in any industry. This list can be endless since there are several issues and risks in any given project. Therefore, as a project manager, one should consider all four processes. At the end of the day, as the author stated, “It is the project manager’s responsibility to run the show successfully by proactively anticipating such issues and planning how to tackle them.”
In particular, the biggest challenge for me in the project communications management area has been identifying stakeholders in my projects. This has been a challenge since I was new to the company, and initially needed a lot of support and guidance from my manager.
Overall, what are the current challenges that you are now experiencing in the project communications management area? Have you experienced any communication barriers listed under the four different processes? Have you applied any one of the solutions?