If you have been following the series (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6) of articles on using IBM Connections as a Project Management tool, youll be aware that we are working through the Association of Project Managements key components of Project Management. This time were up to our final entry:
Maintaining Communications with Stakeholders and the Project Organisation
Keeping the stakeholders and the rest of the project organisation up to date with your project’s progress should become a much easier prospect if you are using IBM Connections. The key is to use a Blog and notify those stakeholders about new entries in the blog when appropriate.
It’s unlikely senior stakeholders will voluntarily view your blog – they are much too busy for that – so emailing a notification to them, or even sending a personal email with a link to the blog post is important.
The good thing about a blog in Connections is that it can act as a permanent record of your actions and statements, with commenting, likes and all the other engagement tools we’ve discussed here so far.
Project status reports are a constant fact of life for any project manager. Most PMs find themselves creating at least one project status report per project, per week, but that number can multiply quickly if a manager needs to report more frequently, or report separately to different groups of stakeholders.
Unfortunately, when it comes to status reports, practice does not always make perfect. Project managers, even those who have written hundreds of reports in the past, often make their own lives more difficult by omitting important information or including more details than are necessary. Before you sit down to create your next project management status report, take a moment to review these tips.
Use a Template
How certain can you be that your audience will read your report all the way through? Consider using a template for your report and providing links to the activities, wiki pages, files, and so on that live inside your community so that people can dive into the detail if they want to.
For all of your reports, consider adding a space near the top for a quick summary of what’s included in the report below. A sentence or two stating that the project remains on track, or (if needed) highlighting a few key areas of concern, can help ensure that stakeholders get the critical information they need, even if they get distracted before reading the rest. These quick summaries can also help set the right tone and expectations at the beginning of status update calls or meetings.
Here’s an example of some of the headings and topics you might want to cover in your Project Status Report blog entry:
- Project Overview
- Project Financial Status
- Project Expenditure
- Budget Status
- Master Programme Status
- Where are you on the tasks that need to be completed?
- Progress and Status Update
- Risk Mitigation
- Current Risk register
- Current Issue register
- Change Management Issues
The next step is to stop producing the report document itself and move to an online presentation of the document. Many desktop publishing solutions allow you to export to HTML and the resulting package of text and images can be brought into a blog entry in Connections with a little skill and care. The primary change you will need to make to get it looking good is to upload the image files associated with the HTML produced, and change the URLs of the image files in the HTML to point to their location in Connections. Once this is done the HTML version of your report should render properly.
Taking this step makes the reading experience easier for users as they can see the entire document in their browser. It also makes it much easier to view on a mobile device:
The last step in your communications revolution is to change the model from a single large publication into a steady stream of reports.
So, now change how you publish reports to be when it makes sense for the readers. If there issues of concern, you might consider changing the frequency of your reports to be daily. At other times, weekly or monthly might be sufficient.
End each report with a call to action for the reader to give you their thoughts in the comments. The BBC news website does this, so can you: