Communication Principles in a Project

The first hours or at least days within a project do shape most of the ongoing communication in a project or program. In other words: if you do not or too late define communication principles in a project you will need to cope with issues in a later stage.

All soft topics like usage of mobile phones or laptops during meetings, respect between each other, listening to colleagues, confirm understanding, participation by all in meetings, avoid mails but call instead, and so on and so forth are topics which are often more easy to follow than the individual behavior in following topics. Therefore guidance should be given.

A set of my standard communication set up in projects from day 1 onwards as an example below.

 

I would like to ask you to follow these communication principles:

To minimize our mail traffic and an easier organization of our mailboxes we should agree on the following rules:

  • Only send mails towards the team members who need the information!
  • Sounds funny, meant is: avoid big distribution list without need! (same with copy!)
  • As long as we are working on drafts or on finalization of templates the drafts are only send around the nominated team
  • Often big copy distribution lists in mails are used for escalation of safety reasons, in case this is needed: Please contact and inform the Program Manager respectively the needed team member before. The Stream Leads are asked to design a workaround for internal escalation handling in their streams.
  • We agree that the work of all of us is very important for this program! For that reason only mails with a critical timeline are marked as urgent.
  • Mails with a critical impact for the program content have to be marked with URG at first.
  • To avoid overload the capacity of our mail server we send links where ever it is possible
  • Last but not least: Don’t bury the needed information’s in mail chains …

 

Mail naming convention

  1. All Mails have to be marked with the kind of information is given with the e-mail
  • INF: Information; an information is given to the addressees, no action required
  • ACT: Date, Action; and action is required by the addressee
  • DEL: Delivery; a required action is delivered
  • URG: urgent information’s start with this prefix
    e. g. URG: DREAM: SP01: … – see also file naming convention
  1. Mail subjects needs to include a short and clear description of the content
  2. Addressees on copy have in general no action !
  3. Escalations
    In general the escalations come up as followed:
    1. Team Members to Subproject Managers
    2. Subproject Managers to Project Management
    3. Project Management to Program Sponsor / SteercoE.G.: INF: DREAM: SP01: Mail Convention

 

Document naming convention

All documents in the program are named as followed:

  1. Date (yyyymmdd)
  2. Project Name (DREAM) and sub project number (e. g. SP01)
  3. Document name
  4. Version (drafts V 0.1 ff; finalized versions V 1.0 ff)

E.g.: 20170220_DREAM_WP01_name convention_V 0-1.doc

The four elements are separated by an underscore.

 

All documents which have been reviewed follow this naming convention:

  1. <Name of Original Document>
  2. Rev<Initials of Reviewer>
  3. Date (yyyymmdd)
  4. g, 20170220_DREAM_WP01_name convention_V 0-1_RevMW_20170307.doc

 

Meeting Agenda

Effective meetings are always a challenge. There are many guidelines and checklist available for meetings. But up to now I have not found a good template for an effective meeting agenda.

In my daily usage I identified the need for two different agenda formats depending on the length of the meeting or better the number of agenda topics.

Having a telco I always use following simple format (in case not many topics need to be covered) since years:

INITIAL SITUATION/AUSGANGSSITUATION

  • Project status needs to be reported to steerco until Friday 12:00 CET

PREPARATION NEEDED / ERFORDERLICHE VORBEREITUNGEN (including owner)

  • Please update your work packages until Thursday 10:00 CET Server Link (ALL)
  • Please update action items status / resolution Server Link (ALL)
  • Update reporting template (ML)

AGENDA

  • Review interface issues between work packages (MW)
  • Align on action items across work packages (MW)
  • Align on Team Discussions items on project server (ML)
  • Issues and risks to be aligned on (ML)

RESULTS EXPECTED OF THE MEETING/ ERWARTETE ERGEBNISSE DES MEETINGS

  • Aligned view on the project status

NEXT STEPS AFTER THE MEETING/ NÄCHSTE SCHRITTE IM NACHGANG ZUM MEETING

  • Report to be consolidated (ML)
  • Report to be reviewed and send to steerco (MW)

 

For face2face workshops or long lasting telcos I prefer using following format also for many years:

Berlin, Hauptstr. 14-16, 1.OG, Room E1.15a, Monday 05. Feb 2018 – CMO FMO Big Picture
Goal: Common understanding of CMO and FMO Big Pictures and related activities
Approach: Time Boxing
Preparation: Presentation: Link on Server
Materials: 2 beamers, moderation suitcase
Time (CET) Topic Host Input and preparation needed / Owner Result expected / Owner  Attendees 
09:30 – 10:00 Introduction and target of meeting MW  Introduction – no preparation needed  All  All
10:00 – 10:30 CMO Picture Overall  LI  Slide deck / LI Common understanding of the CMO  All
10:30 – 10:45 Break        All
10:45 – 12:45 CMO / FMO INM  LI Understanding CMO slide deck on specific process / LI Black Board FMO Picture / CS LI, CS, MA, UA and UA
12:45 – 13:30 Lunch break in restaurant        All
13:30 – 14:15 CMO / FMO PRM  LI Understanding CMO slide deck on specific process / LI Black Board FMO Picture / CS LI, CS, MA, UA and AB
14:15 – 15:00 CMO / FMO CHM  LI Understanding CMO slide deck on specific process / LI Black Board FMO Picture / CS LI, CS, MA, UA and SE
15:00 – 15:30  CMO / FMO CFM  LI Understanding CMO slide deck on specific process / LI Black Board FMO Picture / CS LI, CS, MA, UA and ME
15:30 – 15:45 Coffee Break       All
15:45 – 16:15 CMO / FMO CPM  LI  Understanding CMO slide deck on specific process / LI Black Board FMO Picture / CS KE, CS, MA, UA and KL
 16:15 – 17:00 Wrap up and next steps  MW   Action item log updated. / MW

Work package descriptions amended. / work package owners

Steering Board Decision preparation / LI

 All