When you stop to think, the success of a project is based on a number of people working together to deliver a common goal. In order for them to be effective, it is critical that they communicate. Unfortunately many project manager or PMO assumes that the team members will communicate as part of their role, alas in many times this is not true.
It is also very important to communicate outside of the team, especially to key stakeholders. Proactive communication can help stop a stakeholder feeling nervous that can result in reporting fire drills hitting the project.
So, a smart, proactive PMO will not leave anything to chance, including communication.
The PMO should create a matrix of the reporting that is required. A good input to this will be the list of names identified as part of the stakeholder analysis. If this does not exist, work out all of the internal and external stakeholders, think about what type of updates they require (i.e. progress report), work out the frequency of the updates (weekly, monthly, etc), what will be the medium (e-mail, verbal, report, spreadsheet, etc).
When you have built a view of all of the different types of update required and frequency, you can populate a simple matrix using a document or spreadsheet. This will then give you your plan for communication. Make sure that this is distributed to all team members. Likewise, communicate to stakeholders so that they know what to expect and when.
The communication plan should not just be limited to status reporting, it should also include any key events such as town halls, webex, 1:1 meetings, etc.
The reason so many projects do not perform is due to lack of communication, establishing a solid, well thought out communication will help. It also will promote confidence to your stakeholders as they will not be left wondering if “everything is running to plan”. This can be dangerous to the project and PMO. The natural reaction of the sponsor who is nervous will be to request additional information outside of the normal reporting cycle. This will divert the project team away from delivery activity, which in turn may delay the project further, leading to even more concern on progress.
Sometimes, the project and PMO is communicating on a frequent basis. However, if the report does not provide what the stakeholders need, again they will feel nervous and start looking for extra information to gain assurance. This is where the PMO working with the communication team can help the project. By working to mentor and improve the quality of communication, such as making sure the report is written clearly, avoiding “project speak”, acronyms, etc and detailing outcomes, this will help the stakeholders to feel more confident. This means that the regular report should be sufficient avoiding the burden of extra work to support additional reporting requests.