Project Management has been consolidated as one of the main ways for organisations to successfully deliver their strategic business plans. Nowadays, there is no doubt about the benefits of project management. It significantly improves project results, shortens delivery times, optimises the use of resources, reduces project costs, increases productivity and return of investment – just to point out a few benefits.
However, a high number of projects do not achieve success, i.e., do not meet their objectives. Surveys indicate the major cause of this disconnect between intention and results, is communication. Communication involves information management.
Information is an important element within project management. On the one hand, projects make use of information in order to reduce uncertainty. On the other hand, they are also major producers of information, as they present an intense flow of information throughout their life-cycle.
All this information needs to be managed in favor of the project – however, most organisations are not prepared for the management of this information. It is estimated that almost 80% of information and knowledge within an organisation is not shared. This inevitably leads to informational chaos which is then transposed to the project environment.
Differentiating information management within projects
Due to their unique characteristics, projects require a clearly differentiated information management process. Such management should be focused on the procedures required to ensure that all project information is generated, collected, distributed, stored, retrieved and organised properly, as highlighted in the PMBOK ® Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge – PMI ®). Furthermore, decisions are always made within the project, and must be supported by accurate and timely information.
Based on my own empirical research within small, medium, and large organisations, it is possible to state that there is a straight correlation between clear communication and project performance. More research needs to be done, but it was clear that organisations with more mature communication processes in place, including information management processes, presented far better project results.
Combining human and automated resources to manage the information in projects can highly improve communications. Among those automated tools, SharePoint sites are popular and we would highly recommend them when managing information within projects.
However, using technology alone is not enough. Here are some tips to guide you however, the support of a project management specialist may also be of benefit to successful project delivery:
- Engage the team around the use of a clear information management process.
- Recognise that people learn and work in different ways.
- Identify the information needs (why users need certain information and how they use it).
- Use IT resources such SharePoint to better organise, store and facilitate information sharing.
- Add value to information by focusing on the content and quality of the information. Is it current, accurate and useful?
- Clearly define a communications plan, specifying who needs which information, when and how.
- Disseminate an information culture, including sharing knowledge around projects and throughout the organisation.
To conclude, it is understood that information management should be seen as a systemic action, seeking to understand and meet the information based needs of the project. Certainly, it will contribute to a reduction in costs and the increased success of projects. Consequently this will help companies to thrive in a globalised and highly competitive world where everything is interconnected and interdependent.
For all your Project Management needs, please contact Aspira
Katia Stark, Project Manager, Aspira.