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 is designed to communicate effective messages around programme delivery:

  • A RAID log enables 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 costly delays and uncertain delivery. I am certain everyone reading this can easily think of a situation where things didn’t work out because of poor communication and low engagement, confidence and momentum in the programme.

With that in mind, here are three considerations to build your communication foundations:

1. Take Time to Understand your Audiences

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

  • Understand their objectives (personal and business)
  • Understand what they like and how they prefer to be communicated with: Be it over a chat and a coffee; detailed vs. ‘high level’ written updates; Email, Word, Slides etc...
  • Understand what they don’t like: Styles, formats and sensitivities (personal and business)
  • Consider their influencers: People you can communicate with who will influence them

Responding to and managing communications that are relevant to your stakeholders’ motivations and styles encourages better engagement and more successful and predictable delivery.

2. Ensure concise, visual and clear communications

When looking through a communications lens, first and foremost focus needs to be how to optimise the use of all the artefacts you are using to deliver your programme. This can greatly help the success and certainty of delivery, so adopt clear, concise and visual communications that empathise with the audiences and encourages engagement.

As an example, we have seen so many long and detailed programme executive summaries of which the target audience don’t get past the first sentence. The potential benefits the PM could have gained from a high quality, clear and concise update are immediately lost.

Most stakeholders are impatient and don’t have the luxury of time, so ensuring information is concise, visual and clear is crucial.

3. Use innovative tools to communicate effectively

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

Watch the video below for an example of an innovative programme communication tool that has a ‘wow factor’:



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