Traditional project communication took place within a clearly defined structure, using channels such as internal mail, telephones, memos and formal meetings. Modern project communications utilize technology such as email, intranet and social media to share information within a more flexible team structure. Communication needs have changed in line with the emergence of new approaches to project management and the need to inform a wider group of stakeholders.
A traditional project team processed the project in separate stages, completing each stage before starting the next. The team documented each stage and obtained a sign-off before progressing. According to Project Smart, the modern practice is to adopt an agile project methodology in which project stages can overlap as team members process individual cycles, modifying them in line with any feedback. This complicates communication, putting the emphasis on status updates and easy access to the latest project information.
A modern project team includes a wide group of permanent and temporary members. In addition to internal staff members, a team may also include consultants, suppliers, business partners and firms supplying IT services. The project manager must ensure that all team members have secure access to project communication for the period of their involvement. According to Project Place, a project is a temporary social system where success depends on collaboration, communication and commitment through transparent information sharing.
Modern projects have a much wider group of stakeholders. In addition to communicating with team members and sponsors, project managers recognize the importance of keeping all stakeholders, including the community, regulators, government agencies and investors fully informed. According to the Cornwell management consulting firm, ineffective communications contribute to the lack of success in more than 65 percent of failed projects.
Modern project communication takes advantage of networked communications to improve collaboration. Email and instant messaging enable team members to share information quickly and easily, rather than rely on paper-based channels such as internal memos or faxes. Project portals provide a single secure access point for all project information and documentation via the Internet. Videoconferencing makes it possible for team members to set up progress meetings, even when team members are in different locations. Technologies such as blogs and social networks enhance project communications even further, creating a sense of community and enabling stakeholders to provide feedback that can influence the project
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.