Effective Communication: A Viable Component of Project Management

IEEE Computer Society Team
Published 02/10/2023
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Developing communication skills for effective project managementDuring a software engineering project’s lifecycle, unexpected changes can occur because of external factors or unforeseen issues. Effective communication between teams, stakeholders, and other project participants ensures that all parties stay abreast of the latest developments and potential scope changes. It is your role as the project manager to navigate the timeline, expectations, and potential hurdles for each phase of the project. This requires strong verbal and written communication skills, and a willingness to address conflict and seek proper resolution.


Talk With Your Team

From regular project meetings to individual conversations with team members and key stakeholders, the effective use of verbal communication is a key attribute of successful project managers. Addressing problems in real-time ensures that misunderstandings do not lead to costly missteps. Preserving communication is essential for software development, which can evolve as the user interface, design, and functionality are tested and sometimes altered. By relaying instructions quickly and accurately while imparting feedback and potential deviations before they become roadblocks, you help preserve the integrity of your timeline and budget. In addition, operating with an open-door mindset that allows for questions and clarification of expectations will empower software engineers and other participants throughout the project.


Write It Down

Written communication allows project managers to capture and share instructions, feedback, and updates with stakeholders and team members. It is a practical approach for capturing changes in protocol or procedure and can be used as guidance to ensure that all participants understand their responsibilities and expectations. In addition, having a record of the scoping effort, issues, and subsequent resolution is helpful when conflicts or questions arise and can be repurposed as a template for future projects, if not future steps, within the development lifecycle.


Resolve Conflicts

To aid in the successful completion of a software engineering project, you must be able to identify and resolve disputes that arise between stakeholders and other participants. Conflict resolution ensures that a team stays focused on its project goals without getting sidetracked by disagreements or misunderstandings. Although it often represents a negative connotation, conflict resolution is simply a reconciliation of differences. It does not automatically mean an impasse, and can improve a team’s collaborative efforts if addressed diplomatically and expeditiously.

Conflict resolution starts with transparency. When you implement a standard of open communication, you convey to your team a desire to resolve conflicts while allowing the involved parties to share their unique perspective. Lessons learned from these situations can be used to approach future projects or subsequent development phases with a better understanding at the onset of the issues that may arise.



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Build Communication Into Your Project Plan

When collaboration exists, a project’s chance for success increases. Overseeing software development requires understanding the many moving parts and a commitment to your team. Consider the following suggestions to simplify your efforts and promote harmony throughout the duration of the project:

  • Establish clear channels of communication with your team before the project begins.
  • Set a consistent schedule for both written and verbal communication, and alter its frequency according to project demands.
  • Define expectations and boundaries of all parties involved, preferably in writing and before the project begins, so it can be referenced as needed.
  • Convey updates and feedback promptly to limit the impact on your timelines and budget.
  • Allow for questions or requests for clarification throughout the project’s lifecycle, particularly when a scope or schedule change is involved.
  • When dealing with conflicts or disputes, ask focused questions and allow all parties ample time to express their concerns.
  • Remain open and available for discussion.

From managing divergent personalities to navigating scheduling conflicts and unexpected obstacles, communication is essential to ensuring that everyone stays informed within a dynamic environment. Use verbal and written communication to avert crises, create harmony among team members, and keep everyone on task and engaged in the project’s goals. For more information on project management topics for software engineers, access the Build Your Career newsletter.