parascosa Consulting

 

Communications

 

All too often projects and programmes, both IT and business-focussed, fail to deliver because of poor communications. Problems arise, particularly in larger programmes, where the internal communication within the team is poor, often because of people coming from different disciplines or because they are scattered geographically. These problems can result from a number of underlying causes, including use of jargon and specialist abbreviations. Human nature dictates that the person receiving the communication considers it a weakness to admit that they have not understood and so they assume, often incorrectly, that they knew what the other person was trying to say. Typical examples of such breakdowns in communication are between people from the IT and business communities, who speak quite different 'languages' and who often use the same abbreviations to mean quite different things.

External communications are, of course, equally important. There is no point in a project being on time, and on budget, if nobody is aware of the progress made. All too often users and stakeholders are presented with deadlines that could easily have been anticipated if the communications from the project had been better. Good news is just as important as bad news. If things are going well there is nothing wrong with sounding your own trumpet and creating an environment in which people are looking forwrad to using the new system or whatever the project is set to deliver.

I am often asked how someone with my background came to be involved in helping people to improve their communications. To me there is nothing more logical than applying my knowledge and experiences of languages and linguistics to the challenge presented by disparate communities who cannot speak to each other. I have used my German and French skills throughout my career but generic language skills can be equally applied to 'translating' betwen people who all use English but who employ radically different terminology. This is achieved by creating common glossaries, simplifying the terminology and eradicating misunderstandings Below you will find examples of how I have appplied these skills to practical situations:

 

UK Credit Card Company

The Sarbanes-Oxley programme was critical to the bank and, with numerous operations around the UK and overseas, it was vital to get a consistent message out to all colleagues at the same time, from senior management to call centre operators. As head of the communications workstream, I was responsible for creating awareness of the issue across the company, using such memorable phrases as 'pull your SOX up'. Because so many processes had to become SOX-compliant many people were impacted and each had to be aware, in good time, of what was expected of them and when. A project newsletter kept all major stakeholders aware of developments, and of the timetable, and effective communications played an important role in the project being delivered on time.

I identified that the advent of the single currency was going to be a major issue for companies across the eurozone and for Financial Services companies within the City. As Director of euroTRANSFORMATION Services, I was personally responsible for mobilising the company and ensuring that a common message was delivered to all clients. Externally, I used a number oif different channels (articles, TV, radio and books) to get the message out, to UK Plc, that time was of the essence and that the extent of the challenge should not be underestimated.

 

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