Communication is at the heart of any business, and its strength and efficiency are vital to ensuring the proper operation of every department. From an IT standpoint, keeping your team, as well as the rest of the company updated on past, present, and future tasks and goals, is something that every IT professional should practice. While updating your company on IT progress is indeed another added task to your seemingly endless responsibilities, it has many benefits. First, being active in communication on your side, motivates everyone else to do the same. Also, with your intense workload, forgetting when and what happened at a specific date or time can be difficult.
With today’s technology, companies and their employees who work from home can stay in contact with each other very easily. There are video chat services like Skype, which allow a live video conversation to happen and numerous other forms of messaging services. Accountability can be handled by having the employees who work from home using a program that logs all of the data of the work being done and sends it to their employers. With all of these tools and the proper education on how to use them, a business and an employee can always stay connected, even across considerable distances.
For this scenario, as a project manager for a small IT website portal for a customer, we are faced with several communication challenges. In such a case with various employees who are remote, I would implement multiple tools to increase communication. By going in order of appearances of the issues, the customer’s lack of checking his email and phone messages poses a significant problem; to fix this, I would use a work-sharing app such as Dropbox, Flow, Skitch, Salesforce, and Google Apps (Hangouts, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Meet, etc.). By using a cloud-based work-sharing app, the customer, as well as the rest of the team, can efficiently share their progress with all members of the project and its stakeholders, such as the customer. The customer should have communication maintained through a chat service such as Google Hangout; these chats should be segmented into departments, such as web dev, e-commerce, programming, etc., as well as with typical phone calls and emails. Video meetings can also be held using Google Meet, eliminating the need for an in-person meeting, as well as being able to share a user’s screen with someone else.
Our sponsor for the project (Internal Senior VP of IT), wishes to receive written documentation for project updates, as well as weekly in-person meetings; to help accomplish this, I would schedule weekly progress reports covering the status of the project. In each progress report, I would include metrics such as what was accomplished the past week, what challenges were faced, what is planned for the next week, as well as how the budget is doing. Progress reports can be delivered in both digital and paper form to accommodate both internal and external employees and stakeholders. To satisfy the sponsor’s requirement of having weekly in-person meetings, I would schedule meetings on Fridays to go over that week’s progress report. Then, I would inform the rest of the team of any new items added to our agenda per the meeting. The sponsor should have communication maintained through a chat service such as Google Hangout; these chats should be segmented into departments, such as web dev, e-commerce, programming, etc., as well as with typical phone calls and emails. Video meetings can also be held using Google Meet, eliminating the need for an in-person meeting, as well as being able to share a user’s screen with someone else.
As mentioned in the scenario, the programmers are very busy and would prefer smaller bits of information instead of long meetings; this is quite common in my experience. Instead of the programmers attending the meeting, I would either deliver each week’s progress report to them in a digital or paper form, as well as hold smaller one-on-one meetings with each member of the team on a bi-weekly basis (depending on the length and sophistication of the project). Video meetings could also be held. All completed and current work-in-progress tasks will be available to everyone to see (if they are authorized) through the use of the work-sharing app we implement; this offers staying updated with current work at a quick glance. As a programmer’s work can be complicated and challenging when multiple members are editing a single bit of code, for example, a changelog should be used; this will track each time a programmer makes a change. The programmers should have communication maintained through a chat service such as Google Hangout; these chats should be segmented into departments, such as web dev, e-commerce, programming, etc., as well as with typical phone calls and emails.
The two external subject matter experts can get up to speed quickly by viewing the work-sharing app, as well as the weekly progress reports. If they do indeed need additional information, it should be provided by a chosen individual knowledgeable in all areas of the project (most likely, the project manager). The internal content manager, due to how integral they are to the project, should receive the weekly progress reports, as well as have access to the work-sharing app. If the content manager decides to have an in-person meeting instead, the project manager should initiate it and bring in the respective members from each department/area of the project, if required. Similar to the content manager, the internal web designer should receive the weekly progress reports in both digital and written form and have the ability to schedule in-person meetings. Furthermore, the web designer should have access to the programmer’s changelog and other relevant documents to avoid making design changes that interfere with updates in code. Both the subject matter experts and the content manager should have communication maintained through a chat service such as Google Hangout; these chats should be segmented into departments, such as web dev, e-commerce, programming, etc., as well as with typical phone calls and emails.
While the e-commerce specialist is internal, he/she is located in Seattle, WA; this poses some challenges in keeping them updated with written progress reports. To ensure the e-commerce specialist is well informed of each task and the status of the project, they should receive the weekly progress reports in digital form, have access to the work-sharing app, and communication should be maintained through a chat service such as Google Hangout; these chats should be segmented into departments, such as web dev, e-commerce, programming, etc., as well as with typical phone calls and emails. For the testers, they will be provided the weekly progress reports, but keeping them updated throughout the early-to-middle stages of the project isn’t necessary. Towards the project’s completion, they should receive an itemized summary of all stages of the project, as well as use their access to the work-sharing app and email/chat communications to help test the product.
Finally, to satisfy the CEO and executive team, each week’s progress reports will contain high-level data, graphs, and charts covering budgets, the work finished and in progress, as well as a brief summary of each team member’s contribution. A dashboard in the form of a Google Doc/Sheet will be created for everyone to view, showing high-level progress data. A proper communication flow shall be maintained through the thirteen members of the project team, with clear instructions on how to contact another department with a request or suggestion. By forwarding high-level issues, recommendations, or sub-projects to the project manager first, the project manager can decide the importance of the material and delegate it accordingly, all while keeping the project on task and under budget.
Fuller, M. A., Valacich, J. S., George, J. F., & Schneider, C. (2019). Information systems project management: A process Approach, Edition 2.0. Prospect Press, Inc.
Rajkumar, S. (2010). Art of communication in project management. Paper presented at PMI® Research Conference: Defining the Future of Project Management, Washington, DC. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Categories: Group Theory