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Project manager – part 4 - Communication

Gaining and maintaining sponsorship

The project must always be well supported by senior management.

If the Project Manager doesn’t believe in the project then it has no chance of succeeding.
However, the Project Manager should be wary of over enthusiasm leading to over optimism in terms of what he can deliver.

It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to gain support and approval for the project from the Project Board.
Therefore, the Project Manager should make sure that the project plan and schedule is realistic and does not promise what cannot be delivered.
This will include the resources, costs and timescales.

If the customer requirements are well understood and documented and all of the potential major pitfalls have been allowed for then everyone involved in the project should have high confidence for its success.

This should be the case for all aspects of the project, for example, meeting technical specs, completion on time and within budget.

Of course, it is rare for any project to run to completion with no problems.

The project management team want realism not an impossible challenge.

Don’t commit to a specific reporting regime, if there is no way it will work, just because it is the ‘company way’.

Advertising the project

Firstly, the Project Manager should be right behind the project.

The Project Manager should be able to convince senior management of any decision making requirements.
At the same time, the Project Manager is the promoter of the project outside the circle of the project management team.

The Project Manager must be able to maintain good relations with other managers.
This is especially useful when seeking resource and other input.

Tackle issues as they arise

He or she must not let heads fall at the first sign of a set back.
He or she must possess a positive frame of mind and focus on looking for solutions to problems instead of worrying about them.
Try not to let difficult issues drift, tackle them straight away.

Tackling issues as they arise is particularly relevant for staffing issues.
If there has been poor performance deal with it quickly before it de-motivates others in the team.
This aspect is covered in more detail in the 'The Complete Leadership package' and the 'The Complete Motivation package'.

Set the rules

When the project starts, make sure that the rules and any procedures for running the project are clear to the project management team and any other interested parties.
This would include meeting frequency, format of agendas, minutes and reports etc.

When communicating the progress of the project stick to the facts, it is not helpful, and can be misleading to try to guess or over elaborate.
If you don’t know the answer then suggest this area will need to be reviewed and make a note of the action.

Make sure that reports are aimed at the correct level for the particular presentation.
Senior management may only be interested in milestone activity and not in individual task detail.

Remember that loss of personnel, because they are disinterested and not motivated in the project, can mean considerable cost and effort as well as the potential negative effect on the project.

The Project Manager can only persuade and has little direct authority.

If a project is off site, for example, a construction project then the Project Manager should consider working from the site and not a remote office.