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Communication is key

Effective communication happens when a message is delivered that has the same meaning for the recipient as it does for the sender. In project management this means that you and your client have a mutual understanding of what the project is about.

As I mentioned in the recent post on flexibility, a project is likely to evolve as it progresses; our client may have a completely different vision of what they want at the beginning of a project compared to the final result because of the changes along the way. To effectively integrate these changes into the project means that we need to maintain a good level of communication with our client.

The main objective for our client Abbot’s Hill School was to make changes to their school website so that it was “much clearer, much easier to navigate, have more items of interest on the home page including the school video, links to social media and current news items.” The client “wanted to ensure that information was easy to find for both prospective and current parents, which meant a revised main navigation menu and the ability to have a range of sub pages.”

We met with Alison and Katie from Abbot’s Hill School to discover every aspect of the project as they saw it, and after the initial meeting we produced a full summary.

“RI was able to suggest various ways that [our project objective] could be achieved. They then produced a comprehensive project plan, including timescales and costs.”

We then used Basecamp, a project management tool, to update the project as it progressed, to track any changes and to ensure that throughout the lifecycle of the project all parties (the client, our team and brand designers Kilvington) had a comprehensive understanding of required tasks. This meant that all involved could see the current status of a project at any time.

“This dialogue continued throughout the process with the use of Basecamp which worked brilliantly to have a running summary of all our actions and changes to the project in one place and I felt RI really understood what I wanted to achieve.”

Communication for us means supporting the client so that they know exactly what is happening. Whether it’s a large project or many small projects, all the information in one place means that the pace of a project is sustained, all parties maintain control of the project’s progress, and those with different responsibilities and levels of involvement are better engaged in the project.

“I felt totally supported by RI throughout the project and I thought we worked really well as a team to achieve the final result.”

We acknowledge that for our clients their project with us is just one of many tasks on their to-do list. With a central system of control, such as Basecamp, every issue related to the project, whether large or small, a request or question is easy to track, with task responsibility, a full history and deadline reminders. Which means that project update emails don’t get lost in the sea of other work.

Effective central communication saves money, time and effort. Without it problems can easily arise: lost time (which means lost money), inefficient development, delays and products that don’t meet expectations. Ultimately, the reputation of the company and the client’s trust are at risk.

“The overall knowledge, skills and experience that RI has is impressive and I was delighted with the high level of customer service throughout the project from all members of the team. […] I would not hesitate to recommend RI to anyone and I am absolutely delighted with our new website.”