Communication Within Project Teams - How, Who, What, When and Why?
Written by Jane Ogilvie

Sounds easy ... right? WRONG!

Effective communication is vital to project success and is important for all team members. Poor communication causes problems for projects. This can mean minor irritations for the group or, when more serious, can lead to the corrosion or even complete collapse of collaborative working. So, how can we ensure that communication is not a problem for our projects? There are a few things that we can consider.

HOW? Whether formally defined in a plan or informally agreed by the team, structure is key to clear communication. All team members should understand how to share good news with the team, or how to raise or escalate issues. This can be by telephone, e-mail, in a face to face meeting or online if you have a project website for example. The best means of communication are often dictated by circumstance. It is easy to go to the office next door to update a colleague, but communications need more planning when between organisations/cities/countries. Clarifying these processes before you need to use is the best way to make sure that people are aware them when they’re needed.

WHO? Something has changed – who needs to know? If it is something trivial, then probably not your entire team, but if it’s the latest report of project performance and spend/remaining budget, this likely affects everyone. Make sure you target the right audience.

WHAT? You need to share a problem, some news, meeting minutes or perhaps a report. The format should influence how you communicate, consider this when selecting the means by which information is made available.

WHEN? This is extremely important – your team needs to get enough updates so that they are kept in the loop about what is going on, but not so much information that they start to ignore your calls/e-mails/newsletters. Remember, everyone is busy, consider the needs of the team. It is often useful to have regular communication events in the diary. Depending on the needs of the project these could include weekly e-mails, monthly TCs/reports, quarterly web conferencing/online meetings, annual face to face meetings etc. Each may involve different members of the team, this should be determined by the purpose/objectives of the communication.

WHY? Communication is the cornerstone of good project management and is easily overlooked. It is often useful to have a team member with a dedicated role to support/lead communications. While not all projects will or can succeed, poor performance or failure is frequently linked to ineffective communication.

Finally – trust your instinct and be mindful of the project team needs. If you think it is important to share information with the team, DO IT!

Contact us at to discuss your communication/project management needs.