Project management goal: Communicate project information

Overview of view scenario art

Communication is the most critical element of project success or failure. Fortunately, communicating project information has become much easier with Project 2010—whether you’re communicating across a small team working on a single project or across a large organization with global communication needs spanning portfolios of projects.

In addition, Project now integrates with SharePoint to help you share project information, even without Project Server.

This article is one of many project management goals on the Project Road Map.

ShowExamples from project management . . .

Your assignment: You’ve been told to manage a new project and to communicate with stakeholders on a regular basis. Looking up the word “stakeholder,” you suddenly realize that it means more than just your manager. It means everyone who’s interested in your project, from your manager, to outside vendors, and to potentially the CEO of your organization. You also realize that it isn’t just the important stakeholders who need to know how the project is doing. Your team needs to know, as well. Suddenly, communication sounds complicated.

First things first. Analyze the communication needs of your stakeholders. Many companies with the best communication intentions fail because they don’t realize effective communication occurs in multiple ways. You can use Excel to create an Influence/Interest quadrant chart to help you understand who needs to know what, and to what degree. As you can see by the chart, be most sensitive to the communication needs of the person who has both the greatest influence in the outcome of the project as well as the most influence over the project.

Image of Excel influence grid

Fortunately, you just discovered that your organization just installed Microsoft Project 2010 throughout your organization, and you thought you’d try out its robust communication features. You’ve contacted experienced project managers in your organization to help you with the basics of project management, and have gotten good advice on Project’s advanced reporting and tracking features for your team’s work. And you’ve gotten very tired of sending out pleading emails and knocking on doors to get project updates.

After you’ve done a stakeholder analysis, you may decide that one Office application is more appropriate for the type of information you want to send. Here is a rundown of Office applications and their advantages and disadvantages that could occur to you, depending on your stakeholder needs.

Application Advantages Disadvantages

Excel

   
Can import data from Project for advanced analysis, such as ANOVA and earned value. Learn more about Project’s advanced analysis capabilities. Too easy to create complicated graphs when higher-level detail is more appropriate.

Word

   
Word documents can be used through the project life cycle, especially during the initiation phase when planning spec documents need to be created and shared. Learn more about using Word document creation during project initiation (video). Some stakeholders want a visual presentation of ongoing project performance, which might be better served by Excel, Project, or Visio.

Project

   
Microsoft Project has built-in presentation tools for all level of stakeholders, including a timeline, team planning features, and data export capabilities. Learn more about ways to view and present Project information. Project might not be installed on your stakeholder’s computers, and if it were, the complexity of the data could be overwhelming. It might be better to use Project’s own reporting features, like timelines and visual reports to communicate information to executive stakeholders.
SharePoint If you started with a SharePoint task list, you can import it into Project. A change in one task list will be reflected in the other task list. Learn more using SharePoint with Project. Requires an IT department or an IT vendor that can invest company assets for deployment. However, you can minimize the administration hassles of SharePoint by deploying it from the cloud. 

Project Server

   
For enterprise communication and reporting, especially at the portfolio level, Project Server has advanced communication and reporting tools. Learn more about Project Server. For small companies of only a few employees, deploying Project Server can be a challenge. To effectively use Project Server, your organization should understand its business processes, methodology, project management capabilities and how to configure and manage the gap from where the organization is today and where they want to go to get the most out of server.

PowerPoint

   
Ideal for impactful presentations to high-level stakeholders. Learn more about how to use PowerPoint for effective presentations. For vendors, analysts, and engineers, an application like Excel may be more appropriate for creating detailed charts.

Visio

   
Ideal for initial phases of a project where flow charting of business and manufacturing processes is helpful. Learn more creating flow charts for project communication using Visio. Can present too much process information if presenting to an executive audience.
Lync Server Enables a connected team experience that transforms every communication into an interaction that is collaborative, engaging, and accessible from anywhere. Learn more about using Lync in your organization to communicate. Requires an IT department or IT vendor that can invest company assets for deployment.
Office Online ptograms (the Cloud) Attractive and simple way to display project information on your company’s web page using embedded worksheet code from Excel Online. See an example from the Excel blog. Security can be a problem for some companies. Make sure embedded worksheets appear on secured web site, or is displayed from a private (not public) OneDrive folder.
Social media Twitter, Facebook and other social media can help manage projects and teams, especially during the initiation phase of a project. Learn more about using social media in project management Team members may be reluctant to share information that is less secured than SharePoint servers.

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Communicate project information

Examine problems in your schedule that need to be communicated Critical to the success of communicating information to team members and stakeholders is discovering where the problems are in the schedule.
Communicate earned value information Capturing earned value information is a more advanced step, but very powerful step, toward discovering the good and bad of project’s performance. The high-level facts you acquire from this is what your stakeholders want to see.
Sync project tasks with a SharePoint task list If you have a project already created, you can sync its list of tasks with a SharePoint task list. A change in one task list will be reflected in the other task list.
Export a SharePoint list into a Project task list If you started with a SharePoint task list, you can import it into Project. A change in one task list will be reflected in the other task list.
Add tasks and people to projects in SharePoint If you have a task list set up in SharePoint, you can add tasks, assign people to those tasks, and manage the work without Project Server.
View project information without Project 2010 If you are looking for other ways to view project information without Project and without SharePoint, you can export Project information using a variety of formats and tools.
Up to speed with Project Web App Learn how Project Server and Project Web App can help your organization; these videos take you through the basics.
Use Outlook 2010 to communicate with your team Learn the best practices for using Outlook to maximize the effectiveness of the e-mail you send to your team. Solve problems rather than create them!
Create virtual teams and ad hoc meetings with Lync 2010 (video) Microsoft Lync Server 2010 enables the creation of virtual teams using multiple clients, including a desktop client, a mobile client, Lync Web App, and Outlook.
Embed an Excel workbook on a web page Display an embedded worksheet on an intranet site so that stakeholders can see recently updated project information. The workbook is stored in a public location, such as Windows Live OneDrive
Create Visio diagrams Visio 2010 can help you create impressive charts to communicate high-level project information to stakeholders.

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Applies to:
Project 2010