Establishing project control involves discovering and solving problems while they are still small, measuring progress, and ensuring continued agreement on goals and expectations. The key to accomplishing all these things is communication—making sure that the right people have the right information at the right time. Strong communication among all stakeholders is what allows a project to evolve in an ordered way, instead of veering out of control.
There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to see, yet small enough to solve.
Although it’s been said before, it is worth repeating:
The primary difference in controlling, as opposed to defining or planning, is that controlling refers to the project management oversight required to actually execute approved projects. Project control adds techniques for project communication and for measuring progress.
This article presents several project-oriented techniques for ensuring that the right people have the right information to make the necessary decisions and carry them out. You will recognize some of these techniques. They include:
- Communicating within the team
- Communicating with management and customers
- Change management
- Close-out reporting
- Communication is a vital skill for project managers.
Project Control Through Communication
Communication ranks high among the factors leading to the success of a project. Specifically, what is required is constant, effective communication among everyone involved in the project. Projects are made up of people getting things done.
Getting the right things done in the right way requires communication among all the stakeholders. As project managers, we spend a great deal of our time communicating. This includes setting and getting agreement on goals, coordinating people, discovering and solving problems, and managing expectations.
What this means is that from the statement of work through risk management and detailed planning, every project management technique is a method of communicating.
Project managers need to be able to write and speak well, lead meetings effectively, and resolve conflicts constructively. They also need to listen well, so that they really understand what’s being said. While developing these communication skills is essential for project managers, teaching these skills is beyond the scope of this article.
This series concerns itself with the communication techniques unique to managing projects.