Development Cooperation Handbook/Communication and Knowledge Management/Communication and Evaluation

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Project management demands a free flow of communication with and among project team members, and internal and external project stakeholders. The project team needs frequent information from each of its team members to complete and improve the project and to understand the needs and expectations of the project's beneficiaries. Project Communication management is the systematic planning, implementing, monitoring, and revision of the exchnage of information amongst the project team and the project stakeholders . Project communication management aims at timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information and knowledge.

Types of Project Communication
- Internal communicating within the project team
- External communication with upper management, beneficiaries, and external players
- Close-out reporting

Communication among all project stakeholders is one of the main factors for the project success. It is a prerequisite of getting the things done in the right way and in the right time. Knowledge is power: sharing knowledge is reciprocal empowering amongst project stakeholders.


A good project plan has, in the methodology section, a sub-section dealing with communication management. A good project implementation plan always contains a communication plan; in any case it is important to plan communication at an early phase of project execution.   The communication plan describes how the information a and communication needs of project stakeholders will be met: a communication manager will design, and implement such a plan; thereafter s/he will evaluate how efficient and efficacious communication has been as a support activity facilitating all other project tasks.

Never underestimate communication in project management. Communicate well, and the project will succeed. Communicate poorly, and even the most efficient efforts may be misperceived, misunderstood and poorly valued.

In order to prepare and distribute properly the right information to the right stakeholders, the communication manager needs to:

  • Analyse the communication needs of each stakeholders
  • Identify the information for fulfilling the information needs of each stakeholder
  • Identify the Method and the Effort Required
  • Prioritise the Communication Options

Information distribution includes project performance reporting, but is not limited to that: it entails also all tasks required to satisfy the information needs of all project stakeholders.

Proper information delivery to external stakeholders is essential for the following features of project execution.

  • Manage Acceptance of Deliverables
  • Manage Organizational and Behavioural Change
  • Gain Project Acceptance



Steps of Communication Management


In the structure of the project, communication management is considered one of the facilitating processes (along with quality planning, staff acquisition, risk response planning, procurement planning, solicitation planning). "Facilitating" does not mean unessential or optional: it only means that it is a process that varies in the sequence, is performed in parallel with other activities, have a two-way feedback loop with many core processes. (core processes of project management instead are performed sequentially and are divided into three main phases, i.e. project planning, project execution, project closure).


Communication, management and organizational developmentEdit

With all focus on project management techniques, such as planning, scheduling, cost management, etc., it's easy to forget that communication occupies 90% of a project manager's job time. This includes conflict management, resolving ethical dilemmas, team building - all the soft skills that can make or break projects. In fact, most project failures are in some way tied to a lack of communication. Many projects are perceived as failures due to poor communication, even if all the technical components are done right. Likewise, there are projects where many mistakes are made, but the project is considered a shining success because it was well communicated.
Organisations are being increasingly asked to measure, i.e. evaluate, their performance, in terms of results: i.e. relevance, impact, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of their programmes; humanitarian, development, campaign and public programmes alike. Stakeholders, including donors, are also demanding greater transparency and accountability from organisations. This requires that projects be developed within a logical framework (or a results based logic model) through the project cycle management process, be stakeholder participated at each stage and be based on the local context, needs and problems. Since stakeholders involved in each step are many and varied, the extent to which participation is fair, representative and constructive will depend on successful communication among them. Successful communication will directly determine the quality of the project and the relevance, impact and sustainability of project results. This, in turn, is directly dependent on the capacities of the stakeholders, including organisational staff. These capacities of the “what” and “how” of project development, implementation and evaluation, are developed among stakeholders through knowledge sharing, training and on-hands mentoring and support, all of which need communication skills in varying degrees.

So, here, we are looking at communication as “the tool” used by managers for leading teams and programmes towards a results based programme or project. It is also the tool by which lower level employees can follow their leaders in a spirit of authentic collaboration.
From this perspective, communication is seen in a wider sense than the usual one. In this extended perspective, “communication” is not just an “exchange of information”: it includes all human interactions that make it possible to follow the steps of planning, implementing and evaluating projects. Communication is not the be-all and end-all of project management: technical aspects of planning, budgeting, procurement, etc. are equally important. But it is good human interaction (i.e. communication) that ensures objectives are pursued, stakeholders are motivated, teams work according to plans in a spirit of solidarity, the organization and its persons are empowered and a process of continuous learning is activated in the organization. (for further reference please see PMI web site www.pmi.org).

On the one hand, this new importance of communication implies that more training should focus on developing communication skills and learning communication tools. On the other, it is training itself that in learning organizations becomes a form of internal communication. Training and development within organizations con be seen as a strategic tool for the project/programme purpose and as a forward-thinking vehicle for change. This new function of training is much more than just the traditional role it once played in organizations. Knowledgeable about needs assessment and familiar with the latest training technologies, training professionals assist the organization in communicating its mission, goals, and objectives, as well as facilitating the achievement of the mission. More and more organizations are giving space to the training function to act as an independent project/programme purpose, receiving its funding from the other functions. Though this is not yet the norm, the move towards having the training department function like a project/programme purpose is growing rapidly.

Why social enterprises need to plan communication management.Edit

NGOs face a formidable communication challenge, as they become primary actors of social change. Change can be seen as an opportunity, but it also generates resistance. Hence, the need for a communication strategy that generates consensus for desired changes. Communication planning also enables spokespersons of the organization to respond adequately to objections and hesitations of those who believe that change is not desirable, not feasible or badly managed.

Swiss sknife.png See Guidelines:


Project management demands a free flow of communication with and among project team members, and internal and external project stakeholders. The project team needs frequent information from each of its team members to complete and improve the project and to understand the needs and expectations of the project's beneficiaries. Project Communication management is the systematic planning, implementing, monitoring, and revision of the exchnage of information amongst the project team and the project stakeholders . Project communication management aims at timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information and knowledge.
In the structure of the project, communication management is considered one of the facilitating processes (along with quality planning, staff acquisition, risk response planning, procurement planning, solicitation planning). "Facilitating" does not mean unessential or optional: it only means that it is a process that varies in the sequence, is performed in parallel with other activities, have a two-way feedback loop with many core processes. (core processes of project management instead are performed sequentially and are divided into three main phases, i.e. project planning, project execution, project closure).


Attention: There is an important difference between Project communication and organizational communication . A project is a temporary and one-time endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service, that brings about beneficial change or added value. This property of being a temporary and a one-time undertaking contrasts with organization processes, that are permanent ongoing perations aimed at creating the same product or service over and over again. The communication of these two systems is often very different and requires varying technical skills and philosophy, hence requiring the development of project management. Organizational processes instead are recurring and they regenerate themselves at the end of each completition.


A good Project plan has, in the methodology section, a sub-section dealing with communication management. A good Project implementation plan always contains a Communication plan; in any case it is important to plan communication at an early phase of project execution.

In the project execution phase, communication management is the implementation of the plan and involves essentially two processes: preparing (producing) and sharing (distributing) information.
In order to prepare and distribute properly the right information to the right stakeholders, the communication manager needs to:

  • Analyze the communication needs of each stakeholders
  • Identify the information for fulfilling the information needs of each stakeholder
  • Identify the Method and the Effort Required
  • Prioritise the Communication Options.

Information distribution includes project performance reporting, but is not limited to that: it entails also all tasks required to satisfy the information needs of all project stakeholders.

Proper information delivery to external stakeholders is essential for the following features of project execution.

  • Manage Acceptance of Deliverables
  • Manage Organizational and Behavioural Change
  • Gain Project Acceptance


Communication among all project stakeholders is one of the main factors for the project success. It is a prerequisite of getting the things done in the right way and in the right time. Knowledge is power: sharing knowledge is reciprocal empowering amongst project stakeholders.
While executing the plan, the Project Manager must be aware of how the organization will use the information, and whether the plan is effective. He/she must be flexible and ready to modify the plan if portions of it are not working as expected or communications needs change within the Performing Organization. 

The Project Manager should periodically assemble the Project Team to review the status of the project, discuss their accomplishments, and communicate any issues or concerns in an open, honest, constructive forum. These meetings are ideal opportunities for the Project Manager to gain insight into the day-to-day activities of Project Team members, especially if the team is large and individual interaction between the Project Manager and each team member is infrequent.

Throughout the project, team members assess the project communication plan. The original plan provides adequate information to manage project communication. However, it is important to verify whether the project communication plan is effective.
Periodically, the project manager asks the project stakeholders if the project communication is sufficient to suit their needs. In some cases, project stakeholders may need greater detail or more frequent delivery. In other cases, certain stakeholders may need summary information, or may request notification only if problems arise.


As a project progresses, events may occur to alter the way information is accessed or change communications requirements. During Project Execution, the Project Manager and Project Team must again review whether the Communications plan is still current and applicable to the present phase of the project.While executing the plan, the Project Manager must be aware of how the organization will use the information, and whether the plan is effective. HS/he must be flexible and ready to modify the plan if portions of it are not working as expected or communications needs change within the Performing Organization. Of the many mechanisms available to the Project Manager, Status reporting is particularly useful for communicating the performance of a project.


As a project progresses, events may occur to alter the way information is accessed or change communications requirements. During Project Execution, the Project Manager and Project Team must again review whether the Communications plan is still current and applicable to the present phase of the project.   In addition to having a solid Communications Plan in place, it is the responsibility of members of the Project Team to exercise good communication skill . Communication skill is critical to keeping your stakeholders informed, supportive, and enthusiastic. Smart planning and consistent information delivery keeps your project on track and helps avoid confusion.


When composing correspondence, progress reports, meeting minutes, etc., and when speaking with individuals face to face, the team members are responsible for clear, unambiguous, and complete communication of information. The receiver, in turn, must be sure information is not only received correctly and completely, but that it is understood. During Project Execution, the Project Manager, Project Team, and Stakeholders will share information using a variety of communication mechanisms. 


Of the many mechanisms available to the Project Manager, Status reporting is particularly useful for communicating the performance of a project. 

Project Team members must complete Progress Reports providing regular feedback to the Project Manager. These reports can serve a dual purpose – as a reporting mechanism to the Project Manager and also to the team member’s immediate supervisor. Progress Reports should document detailed descriptions of actual work accomplished and include Team members’ estimates of the effort they feel will be required to complete tasks. Progress Reports should also contain information regarding work to be done in upcoming weeks, and list any issues preventing completion of required tasks.   When correctly completed by the Project Team, the reports are very useful to the Project Manager for updating the Project Schedule, and for anticipating issues and proactively planning ways for their resolution. Using the Progress Report prepared by the Project Team, the Project Manager should complete a Status Report to be presented to the Project Sponsor. In this report, the Project Manager measures the “health and progress” of the project against the Project Plan.

Project Team members must complete Progress Reports providing regular feedback to the Project Manager. These reports can serve a dual purpose – as a reporting mechanism to the Project Manager and also to the team member’s immediate supervisor. Progress Reports should document detailed descriptions of actual work accomplished and include Team members’ estimates of the effort they feel will be required to complete tasks. Progress Reports should also contain information regarding work to be done in upcoming weeks, and list any issues preventing completion of required tasks.

Swiss sknife.png  See the collection of tools for Reporting project status




 





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Tools

As part of the Internet-based collection of materials for Evaluating Socio Economic Development ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/evaluation/evalsed/sourcebooks/method_techniques/structuring_evaluations/stakeholders/index_en.htm, it's available an interesting evaluation related to the principles of Participatory approach: description of methods, evaluation, monitoring, definition of indicators to take measure of effects and impacts, strengths and limitations of the method. Read more here

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www.eugad.eu/wiki/images/4/40/Tool_for_Participatory_approach_-_Evaluation_of_Socio_Economic_Development.pdf




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Tools

We are sharing here with you the guidelines and templates that we have used for managing the communication plan of Eugad project and that you may find useful for other projects.


Templates:


Chcklists:


Templates

Guidelines:

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http://www.eugad.eu/wiki/index.php?title=How_to_report_project_performance

http://www.eugad.eu/wiki/images/a/ae/Project_Status_Report_Template_1.pdf
http://www.eugad.eu/wiki/images/6/6f/Project_Status_Report_Template_2.pdf

Last modified on 5 October 2013, at 20:19