Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

How Important is Project Team Communication in the Public Sector?

By Paul Bender, Director of Public Administration Strategy, Oracle Primavera

It goes without saying that communication between project team members is a core competency that connects every member of a project team to a common set of strategies, goals and actions. If these components are not effectively shared by project leads and understood by stakeholders, project outcomes can be jeopardized and budgets may incur unnecessary risk.Project and portfolio management best practices for federal agencies

As reported by PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession, an organization’s ability to meet project timelines, budgets and especially goals significantly impacts its ability to survive—and even thrive. The Pulse study revealed that the most crucial success factor in project management is effective communication to all stakeholders—a critical core competency for public agencies. PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession report revealed that US$135 million is at risk for every US$1 billion spent on a project. Further research on the importance of effective project team communication uncovers that a startling 56 percent (US$75 million of that US$135 million) is at risk due to ineffective communication. Simply stated: public agencies cannot execute strategic initiatives unless they can effectively communicate their strategic alignment and business benefits.

Executives and project managers around the world agree that poor communication between project team members contributes to project failure. A Forbes Insights 2010 Strategic Initiatives Study “Adapting Corporate Strategy to the Changing Economy,” found that nine out of ten CEOs believe that communication is critical to the success of their strategic initiatives, and nearly half of respondents cite communication as an integral and active component of their strategic planning and execution process. Project managers see it similarly from their side as well. According to PMI’s Pulse research, 55 percent of project managers agree that effective communication to all stakeholders is the most critical success factor in project management.

As we all know, not all projects succeed. On average, two in five projects do not meet their original goals and business intent, and one-half of those unsuccessful projects are related to ineffective communication. Results reveal that while all aspects of project communication can be challenging to public agencies, the biggest problem areas are:

  1. A gap in understanding the business benefits.
  2. Challenges surrounding the language used to deliver project-related information, which is often unclear and peppered with project management jargon.

Public agencies -- federal, state, and local -- have difficulty communicating with the appropriate levels with clarity and detail. This difficulty is likely exacerbated by the divide between each key audience and its understanding of project-specific, technical language. For those involved in public sector project and portfolio management, I would be interested to hear your thoughts and please visit Primavera EPPM solutions for public sector.

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