Communication – it pays to log

Prabhu N. Jha PMP

September 05, 2011

A project manager spend almost 90% of time communicating, makes it most demanding activity in project management. Still communication management does not get the kind of attention it deserves in all the process groups of the project.

Let's look in the practical aspect of it. We live in the information age; communication is revolutionized in many ways. We have many different technologies for communication - email, mobile phone, meetings, video conferencing, fax, mails and more it’s easy to communicate today than what it used to be 10 years ago.

A project communication management plan provides the details of who, what, when. Keeping a more open approach to include more than one communication technology in preference can give added degree of flexibly and can save lots of redundant and ineffective communication. In today's world when multiple communication technologies are at our fingertip, technology preference is easier and convenient to stakeholders. The need of the hour is to update the communication management plan promptly. Loss of communication due to any reason can add risks in projects. In a larger project where responsibility of communication lies with group of people think about the situation that a risk response owner is not able to act when risk occurred just because risk status report went to a fax machine instead of phone call or something similar. We tend to use the other communication technology based on the need of the time. Few steps can be done to mitigate it.

During communication management planning the Project Manager creates communication matrix he will record who, what, when and other details, also should record three preference of communication technology, first two should be mandatory. Mention the primary, secondary and tertiary methods of communication and maintain a log of communication. This may sound a bit odd like it’s done on warship or submarine. But communication log is a very good tool and can serve multiple purposes. Update the log on daily basis or as demanded by the project.

This log will keep track of which communication technology was used from the preference of communication plan, success/failure, summary, date/time, sender etc. Log will give up to date record of current communication in the Project. Project Manager can identify the deviation in communication management plan by carefully analyzing the log. And if there is any deviation, it can be corrected. Also, communication log can help Project Manager measure the performance of the communication management plan in place. During the closing process communication log can help in creating lessons learned and update Organizational Process Asset database.