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New Communication Tools in Project Management

12th December 2014 | Peter Taylor

Real Project Management author Peter Taylor on how communication has changed in project management over the years, and what's stayed the same; with interesting stats on the increasing reach of social media platforms.

New Communication Tools in Project Management

Communication, if you ask most project managers, is the key to good project management, the number one factor for ‘getting it right.’ Depending on what you read, project managers spend 70, 80 or even 90 per cent of their time communicating in some form or another.

This was reflected in a survey I carried out for my new book Real Project Management, with communication coming out as the top challenge for the full community and at number two for my list of younger project managers. In fact, communication was beaten into second place only by the ‘time’ challenges that worried those with under two years’ experience in project management.

What is new in the world of effective communication?

In some cases, for the project managers I spoke to, it was a cry of ‘nothing new’:

‘Like most project managers, I have had both successes and failures in my projects. In post-project analysis, communication is still at the heart of both success and failure. In my discussions with project managers, I hear the same thing on every project, regardless of its size: what has doomed the failed project is not learning how to effectively communicate with the intended audience, ensuring that each communication is complete and understood.’

Just take a look at these statistics (the numbers are from an earnings call for the first quarter of 2013)-

Facebook continues to grow:

Daily active users have reached 665 million.
Monthly active users have passed 1.1 billion for the first time.
751 million mobile users access Facebook every month.
Mobile-only active users total 189 million.

Twitter is the fastest-growing social network in the world by active users according to a 2013 GlobalWebIndex study:

There was 44 per cent growth from June 2012 to March 2013.
There are 288 million monthly active users.
There are over 500 million registered accounts.
Twitter’s fastest-growing age demographic is 55- to 64-year-olds.

YouTube shows its reach into our culture (and our time):

There are 1 billion unique monthly visitors.
There are 6 billion hours of videos watched every month.
YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any cable network.

Google + is making an impact on the social media universe and is now the second-largest social network: There are 359 million monthly active users according to a Global WebIndex study.

My personal favourite, LinkedIn (feel free to send me an invitation to connect) is the largest business network, with over 200 million users.

Throw in webinar tools, instant messaging, podcasts, blogs and a whole bunch more, and you get a lot of ways to communicate for a project manager. That seems to be the essence of the problem. Communication has always been a challenge, even when you only had a few ways of doing it, and now there is an explosion of means and project managers are confused over what to use and when. Dealing with the mass of traditional and social communication channels is causing problems. In the words of one of the project managers I spoke to:

‘I want to keep up with all the new ways of ‘talking’ to my team and stakeholders and not miss out on a better way of providing updates, reports or team exchanges, but I just don’t have the time to learn all the new stuff without dropping other important things.’

For more information about the complexity of communications, particularly when dealing with remote team management, pick up a copy of Real Project Management. You can now order this book at a 25% discount with no charge for postage, packing or delivery in the UK over the month of December. Just use the code RPMAN25 at checkout on www.koganpage.com. Offer expires at midnight on the 31st of December 2014.

For more insights, check out this slideshow video of the problems and opportunities faced in the world of virtual project management and follow Peter Taylor (@thelazypm) on Twitter.

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