Communications management is the key to project control;
the essential element of project management. Without the benefit of a
good communications management system, the processes involved in the
development of a project from conception to completion can be seriously constrained.
Communications management provides the vital project integrity required to provide an information lifeline among all members of the project team. This data must flow downward, upward and laterally within the organization.
Communications management is both master and servant of project control. It is the action element, the integrator of the process of putting the project together. As project management is both an art and a science, the project manager conducts the multi disciplines of the design and construct team.
The tools for communications management are in the form of documents and equipment.
The documentation of the project takes the form of financial input data; design and planning drawings; specifications and contracts; standards and codes; policy and procedures; scheduling and monitoring; and the reporting systems. Depending upon the project the aforementioned are generally required.
In some projects, additional paperwork may be necessary.
The hardware requirement takes the form of calculators, typewriters and other similar equipment. On more sophisticated projects the use of a computer processing unit with peripheral terminals, printers and graphic plotters is an important adjunct to the efficiency of project control.
Software for project control include scheduling, reporting, accounting, estimating and costing. The project manager can produce many forms of control data to assist in the assessment of where the project is at any selected time and make accurate calculations as to where the project will be if a particular trend persists. The computer is an invaluable tool for the project team through the saving of time in plotting and projecting the project’s schedule and cash flow.
It is important to hold scheduled progress meetings. The reporting system provides the basis for decision-making. This is what project management is all about. The ongoing performance of the various phases of the project and the monitoring of the planning, scheduling and control mechanisms provides the data required to assess progress. Is the project on schedule? Are the objectives being met?
What decisive action must we undertake to get back on schedule?
These meetings provide the free flow discussion essential to the decision-making process related to project parameters.
All professional disciplines have their unique individual language to facilitate communications within their particular field of endeavor.
Project managers need an understanding of the language and “jargon” of architecture, several engineering disciplines, accounting, contract law, construction, industrial processing and the various trades. The computer has a language dimension in its own right. The project manager must understand a “babel” of languages to facilitate the communications management requirements of a project.
It is essential that all members of the project management team understand the objectives of the project. Communications management must serve as the interpreter of the information and the documents, in addition to the oral messages presented by the various disciplines. This data, when processed by the project manager, should be forwarded and/or presented in a form which will be
fully understood by everyone, no matter what their profession.
The communications management aspect of project management is, by definition, the media component of the project. Through a communications management system the data is managed and transferred from origin to the various action centers. Communications management is the key to getting things done.
The basic components in the process are the human resources utilizing their respective skills and knowledge; the hardware and software systems; the decision-making procedures; and the language interpretation processes.
Communications management is project management!