Andy Parsons

Andy Parsons

September 2018

Project & Programmes

Programme and project management theory contains many valuable tools and techniques to enable the effective delivery of change. However, it is rarely looked at through a communications lens because we normally focus on the end date and the benefits which are going to be realised.

If we take a more introspective view into the programme delivery world we live in, pretty much everything we do in that world is designed to communicate effective messages around programme delivery:

  • A RAID log allows you to communicate the risks, issue etc. related to your delivery.
  • A plan allows you to communicate the activities and dependencies required to complete your required outcome.
  • A Steering Board pack is designed to highlight where support is needed and to facilitate key decisions.

When carrying out programme and portfolio assurance reviews and analysing the reasons behind major issues on programmes, it is amazing how many times we find that communication is one of the root causes of problems that cause costly delays and uncertain delivery. I am certain everyone reading this can easily think of a situation where things didn’t work out because the communication wasn’t done as well as it should have been, engagement, confidence and momentum in the programme was low and therefore it struggled to deliver.

So here are 3 communication fundamentals to have a think about:

1. Take Time to Understand your Audiences

It’s critical to remember that communication is a two-way process and involves listening, reading, and understanding who you are trying to engage through effective communication. Spend time analysing your audiences:

  • Understand their objectives (personal and business)
  • Understand what they like and how they prefer to be communicated with:
    • Over a chat and a coffee
    • Detailed vs. ‘high level’ written updates
    • Email, Word, Slides, other
  • Understand what they don’t like:
    • Styles
    • Formats
    • Sensitivities (personal and business)
  • Think through their influencers:
    • People you can communicate with who will influence them

Responding to and managing communications which are relevant to your stakeholders’ motivations and styles helps to enable better engagement, confidence, momentum and ensures more successful and predictable delivery.

2. Concise, Visual & Clear Communications = Good

If you look through a communications lens first and foremost when thinking about how to optimise the use of all the artefacts you are using to deliver your programme, it can greatly help the success and certainty of delivery. Adopt clear, concise and visual communications that empathise with the audiences and focuses on the key messages that will drive their engagement and the outcomes you need to achieve from those stakeholders.

As an example, we have seen so many long and detailed programme Executive Summaries, the target audience don’t get past the first sentence and therefore all the potential benefits the PM could have gained from a high quality, clear and concise update which is targeted at their key stakeholders are lost.

Most stakeholders are impatient and don’t have the luxury of time, so concise, visual and clear is good!

3. Use Innovative Tools to Communicate Effectively

Nowadays, we are in the massively fortunate position that there is such a wide and varied range of tools to communicate with. Using something new or different to communicate key messages, is innovative, dynamic and compelling, so it can really help the message land well and be remembered whilst also driving additional momentum and drawing key people into the programme.

An example of an innovative programme communication tool that has a ‘wow factor’:

 (click on the picture to watch a video)

An example of an innovative and creative visual of a Roadmap created by our Visualisation Factory:

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