A Concrete Example
Just to illustrate the point, let’s look at an example. We know stakeholder communication is extremely important, and that we should have some plan in place to report project progress to all interested parties. However, it’s also pretty easy to get lax in this area and not report as often as we should, just because the matter doesn’t seem urgent.
Maybe your general plan is to send out a progress report at the end of every week, but you haven’t done so the last couple of Fridays because there wasn’t enough time. In actuality, on the first Friday you missed, you spent half an hour searching through archived email to find someone’s email address because it was bugging you that it wasn’t listed in your contacts. On the second Friday, you were shanghaied in the break room and ended up spending an hour defending your position on office dress code.
The following Monday, you get a call from one team member to tell you that a major milestone has been reached (right on schedule, too!) and the project is ready to continue on to the next phase in another department. You immediately contact the other department with what you believe is great news, only to find that they’re not ready to begin work – and they won’t be for at least a week. When you point out that they were scheduled to start this work today, the head of that department replies, “We’re used to the other group never finishing on time, so we never schedule anything until we know they’re almost done."
So, now your project is stalled for a week and there’s not much you can do to fix that. In fact, not only are you stuck for a week, but now you have to contact everyone else involved, explain the delay and readjust the project's master schedule. While you can mutter all you want about the one department not sticking to the master schedule, you know in your heart that the whole problem could have been avoided if you had communicated better.