Project Management Ideas

Don’t Cross the Streams: Keep Communication On-Topic & Modular

Keep communication threads and workstreams on-topic and logically grouped in order to make management, documentation and transfer easier.

At the start of projects and during sprints, you’ll have a lot of requests, questions, answers and clarifications to get out to your team. You’ll be tempted to throw everything into a big email or a single thread in your collaboration program. Don’t do it. It will cost you time and resources down the road if you don’t setup things right in the beginning.

Don’t bunch requests into single streams if they deal with un-related information. It’s better to create separate emails, memos, threads and reports even if the recipient/target is the same. When planning your communication, always remember the Ghostbusters:

Ghostbusters: Don't Cross the Streams


No one’s memory is that good: 3 months from now, you won’t remember that you sent the Use Cases for the CRM tests as an attachment to a discussion about Landing Page redesigns. Or, that you’ve got a list of team members in a thread about choosing your project management software.

Modular information is easier to distribute: Exchanging and handing off information is easier if you can point to a single thread rather than having to point to a category, suggest searching on a generic phrase, or give a guesstimate of when the document was sent.

It’s what the tools were designed for: Project Management and Team Collaboration apps are designed for linear & hierarchical input and representation of data. If you don’t organize things clearly in the beginning, then you’ll have to hope that search in BaseCamp, Wrike, Zoho, or SmartSheets is good enough to surface that key bit of information. Don’t even get me started on SharePoint or MS Project. They work best and you work best when you align communication with how the applications work.

Tips for Organizing Communication:

  • For events, describe the activity in the title: Review Q1 Sales Goals NOT Sales Meeting
  • For emails, create new threads when things go off topic.
  • For collaboration tools, agree on a tagging and category convention
  • Make sure that the names of tasks and deliverables are identical across all document that reference them.
  • Maintain a clean folder hierarchy for document storage.
  • Keep a final/clean version of every document. Make it clear that this document doesn’t get touched without your say so.

Images courtesy of Moviehole & LongBoxGraveyard

3 replies on “Don’t Cross the Streams: Keep Communication On-Topic & Modular”

Wow!Good writing.It will definitely ease your work of handling a big project. As a project manager I use scrum in my projects. One of my friends referred me to use the Guide to Scrum Body of Knowledge by I like the concepts of sprints, daily standup meetings, etc. the SBOK Helped me alot in Understanding how Agile Project Management works.

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