Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Tag Archives: Project Challenges

Project Management Communication Posts: Best of the Best

I often think back to three specific posts when talking to project managers about the role of communication in successful projects. In fact, I have taken concepts of each of these to create my Unlock Your Project’s Potential with Great Communication presentation. This presentation was a great success and I look forward to additional presentations.

Now available – 1-Day workshop based on this collection of articles

Communication Secrets for Project Success

Here are my “best of the best” from PPS for project communication.


  1. Do you have the Key to Success for Your Projects?
  2. A Case for Communicating Project Challenges
  3. What Makes for Good Communication?
  4. (Oops – let’s make that 4) It Starts with You: Explore Team Communication Breakdown

Enjoy and share!

IIBA and PMI Chapters, I will speak at your chapter for only the cost of travel plus a $25 honorarium. This offer is available first come, first serve at two presentations per month. Only one presentation per chapter please. The honorarium helps  me to qualify as a professional member of the National Speakers Association.

Communicating Project Barriers & Issues

Last month I attended the Project Management Institute’s (PMI©) Northern American Global Congress in Washington D.C. I was struck by one recurring theme I heard throughout the Congress. President Bill Clinton, Vivek Kundra (United States Chief Information Officer), and many of the workshop speakers touched on this theme. The theme I am referring to is ‘candid and open discussion of project status and issues’. It seems to me that we project managers hate to communicate or especially escalate issues. Isn’t that a sign of weak leadership?!? We should be able to resolve EVERYTHING by ourselves. While it may be true that we want to, it is not realistic. I have always liked the notion that the best managers are those who keep people that are smarter than themselves around. I know that I like to think those who employ me do so because I am better at project management then they would be themselves. So why would I not recognize my manager’s and sponsors’ strengths when it comes to the business or the organization that my project supports? I need to communicate project struggles and let them know the areas of their expertise that will best support the project in order to leverage those strengths.

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Kundra were not speaking from the project manager’s point of view but rather from the sponsor or executive stakeholders’ view. Mr. Kundra stated ‘Do not waste my time with telling me how good you are. You were hired because I know you are good. Tell me the barriers the project has so that I know where my assistance is needed. Red (dashboard indicator) is okay. This helps identify where to focus on root cause to make improvement’ (Keynote PMI Global Congress October 10, 2010). Often the root causes of issues do not reside in the project and therefore are outside of our sphere of control. Sponsors need to know where there are problems to help identify and work toward resolution. Most managers are where they are because they like challenges and solving problems. I can think of one sponsor in particular who was much more engaged when utilized in this way. Also, by keeping successes high level and getting into more specifics on barriers we should have more time to execute, assess, and take corrective action on the project. At the very least when you communicate issues early the sponsor will not be blindsided if the project is negatively impacted.

Try working with your sponsor early next time your project is faced with an issue outside of your control so that you can judge for yourself the benefit of the approach. I would be thrilled to hear the results, good or bad.

%d bloggers like this: