3 communication steps

I believe a lot in the power and benefits of communication. The Project Management Institute estimates that “20% of unsuccessful projects are due to ineffective communications”*. From my own experience and those I’ve interacted with so far, I can also draw the conclusion that communication can make or break any program or initiative. This also includes data management or data governance programs.

The problem is that communication is often overlooked as key stakeholders focus their efforts on getting things done, this usually falls off their list of priorities. The most prevalent communication pattern I see is the following:

  1. Communicate to the unit or organization that a data management/ governance program is underway and what it looks like
  2. Communicate with specific stakeholders or units when specific parts of the program (i.e. projects) need their involvement
  3. Communicate the results of said projects…maybe

As you can imagine, this is not enough. Leading a good data management program or data governance program needs a lot more communication. There are 3 communication steps you should always follow for a greater stakeholder satisfaction and program success rate:

1. Announce the program

First, communicate what the program will do and why it is important. Deliver this before its launch and at launch.

2. Provide ongoing status reports

Second, frequently provide status updates on what the program has accomplished so far, its short term and long term deliverable, as well as how all of this impacts stakeholders. Deliver this at a regularly after launch. It could be as often as weekly initially and then move it down to monthly. Again, the success in these status reports lies into describing how this helps the stakeholders and how this this relates to the business goals. This will remind stakeholders why the program is important and gain and/ or maintain their support.

3. Celebrate success

Third, celebrate the results and the stakeholders which took part of the process. You can embed this into the second step, but I also recommend to have quarterly communications dedicated on reviewing the accomplishments and providing kudos to those involved.

Here is a FREE communication plan template you can use as a jump start.


Parting advice

As a parting advice, ensure you have multiple mediums of delivering these communications. There are stakeholders who like to be actively involved in keeping up to date through:

  • Face to face meetings
  • Webinars and presentations
  • Workshops
  • Group discussions, etc.

And others who prefer a more passive or self-serve approach by referring to a:

  • website
  • newsletter/ email
  • bulletin board
  • digital signage
  • news feed/ blog

So make sure you use a combination of active and passive methods of communication to adhere to different preferences. Bottom line, communication is important.

*Source: ©2013 Project Management Institute, Inc. Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications, May 2013. PMI.org/Pulse
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About the author 

George Firican

George Firican is the Director of Data Governance and Business Intelligence at the University of British Columbia, which is ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. His passion for data led him towards award-winning program implementations in the data governance, data quality, and business intelligence fields. Due to his desire for continuous improvement and knowledge sharing, he founded LightsOnData, a website which offers free templates, definitions, best practices, articles and other useful resources to help with data governance and data management questions and challenges. He also has over twelve years of project management and business/technical analysis experience in the higher education, fundraising, software and web development, and e-commerce industries.

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