Communication is the Key

Author: Vidhi Jain | Categories: Customer Engagement

Change alone is eternal, perpetual, and immortal” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Although change occurs continuously in the world and in our daily lives it is something we all get impatient of!!!

From the past eight years and after completing my Masters in Computer Application, I have been associated with Software development. Recently I got an opportunity to switch into a project manager role for a complex business savvy financial project. With any change comes fear of the unknown. The fear of whether I will be able to fit into the new role / team? What will be the expectations from this role? And many more disturbing thoughts kept coming. But I was sure that with good technical background skills that I had, transfer to project management won’t be that tough.

Then, a friend suggested me a book – ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge’ and with that went all my concerns away. That’s how I began my journey to learn what skills are easily portable from past experience and which ones need refining.

I must commit that I had a wrong start. My initial course of action to handle the situation was not appropriate. Being a technical team member earlier, my focus was to work as individual contributor – coding or testing individually, heads down. Primary reason being that software projects in today’s environment have teams located globally and hardly collocated, thus focusing on completing tasks individually was important.

With the same idea I switched to the new role and started handling the activities all on my own but soon I realized the negative consequences of the same. I realized the importance of communication and understood how it plays an important role to bridge the gap. I believe, and also my experience has borne out, that the core of any good project management revolves around the interactions of the stakeholders and their communication. Formal / Informal, Written / Verbal, Vertical / Horizontal, Para lingual / Nonverbal; be it any kind but the fundamental principle remains the same: ASC4 (Active Listening, Structured, Clear, Concise, Complete and Correct).

“Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood” – Freeman Teague, Jr.

Selecting the right communication method is another focus area which came as learning and here are the key takeaways:

  • Direct face-to-face meetings is something which is not possible every time because of virtual teams and matrix based organizations.
  • Relying totally on email communication is not a good idea. It can at times be a source of broader interpretation and may result in reduced feeling of connection between the sender and the receiver.
  • Adherence to organizational process asset keeps the things under control.
  • Right set of audience and clear agenda sets the platform for successful communication.
  • Frequency and format of communication is important.
  • Quick stand up meetings and conference calls for status checks is the added advantage and beauty of agile based development.

I am aware of many mature program management processes and tools available today but one thing is for sure that they alone cannot be relied upon to keep success rates high for IT transformation programs of any sizes. Achieving success today is as much about process maturity as it is about ensuring that the mature processes are expanded to include the capture, communication, analysis, and tracking of expected value. This extra effort spent on tracking program value from inception through execution should relieve the organization from any additional rework and costs from otherwise successful programs which are still failing to meet organizational expectations and client satisfaction. The stronger connection between program execution work and organizational strategy ensures a well-managed and controlled stakeholder management. The rewards at the end can be very meaningful and also enhance future opportunities for you and your team. To conclude, communication was the key for the skill and experience I acquired, helped me set the new goals for this journey.