It is well known that the communications plan is a critical part of any project plan. Failing to communicate between project team and between stakeholders of a project will bring the whole project down.
During my whole experience with projects, I always had to deal with major problems in every project because of lack of communications, or miscommunications. I will like below sample of the many problems I got through and explain how they almost caused the whole project to fail. Also I will attempt to list few points that will help making sure communications are well planned and channels are established and chain of communication is also cleared.
When the project plan is set and agreed on, it means that all involved sides have seen it and approved it. It also means that all sides must abide by its terms, schedules and scope. If any change on any part of the plan is required, it will be performed through a change control process, which I will talk about it later in a new post, but for now, it is enough to say that in order to do that change request, the change control and change requests have to be well planned and the steps required to implement a change request must be well explained and documented… Including the important part of communications, and channels of communications. And more important: committing to follow the communications plan at all costs!
Through out my experience, I have been dealing with and fixing situations that happened because either a plan was made without getting a good communications plan, or one of the stakeholders/project team members/sponsors did not follow the communications plan, and went for a one side change to parts of the project tasks or activities…
One case where I and my team worked on a project plan with the customer, we had multiple meetings about it and finally reached a point where all of us were satisfied about the plan. Our management unfortunately did not follow the plan and that is something very bad (to have the error be generated from your side about your own plan), and we found ourselves in the situation where we have 2 communication lines, one line between the project team on both sides, and other line between the managements of both teams who (the managements) started to take decisions and make their own changes and plans without the consultation of the project team. This led to very critical situations, where the management of the customer team started to interfere in the technical aspects of the implementation, and take one side actions that were never communicated to either of the technical teams. We suddenly found out that the IT manager of the customer team has turned off the Exchange server of the entire company, leading to the emails being completely un-deliverable (sending/receiving), because even if they had their emails on Google Apps, there are still configurations have to be done before decommissioning the Exchange server. During that time, I was on a one week vacation (knowing that the Exchange shutdown time is still far ahead), and I was unable to provide immediate response to that urgent and critical issue…
That case led to almost terminating the project, because our management and the customer management did not follow the communication plan and flow that was agreed on in the project plan… Which led also to blaming the performing organization’s technical team for the near-termination of the project.
Another case when during initiating a project, we setup a kick-off meeting with the technical team and management of the customer, during that stage, one of our team members gets a request to exclude the sales people form the communications about the kick-off meeting as we are now at the technical stage of the project, sales have no business in that. Later on the same person who requested the exclusion for the sales team goes to the sales team and ask them about whether we (the technical team) had initiated the communication and planned the kick-off meeting… Of course the sales team unaware of our communications will answer that no action has been taken. This led to a very bad situation between the management and our technical team and had an atmosphere of negativity and misunderstanding in all of the office.
These two cases are just a small sample of what can happen because of bad communications. It is really important to all parties in a project to abide by its communication plan. Management should respect the teams that are working under them and provide all the required information to make sure the project gets implemented the right way. If a a management member or a team member ignore or does not follow the communication plan, then it is a sign of neglect, irresponsibility, and disrespect to the project, the teams, and the effort that is being put on the project!
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