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"The communication thread refers to all the information with all the different members of the extended project team. This includes the project sponsors, project stakeholders, the project team, and related third parties. Dimensions of interest to the project manager include the accuracy, timeliness, and responsiveness to the communication. You need to specifically consider the What, When, Who, and How of communication."

What to communicate

"Lots of information needs to be communicated, but it is better for the rescue manager to focus on sharing a couple of key pieces of information. Selected properly, these sources will drive out the construction and content of other key deliverables. For example, the following deliverables are good anchors for driving the remainder of the deliverable set:
  • Acceptance criteria  Also drives the development of the business requirements and testing plans
  • Roles and responsibilities  Also drives several important processes such as fast responses to issues or obstacles. Fast turnaround during a project rescue requires strong clarity around this. A single point of responsibility or accountability is preferred during a project rescue.
  • Obstacles  Also drives the risk management and quality management deliverables
  • Timelines  Also drives identification of the resource requirements and the detailed project plan
  • Status report  This collects the status on all the other deliverables, especially the issues log and the percentage complete of activities on the project plan. Another approach, for those who are not fans of the percentage complete, is to use Estimate to Complete (ETC) - in hours, days, or some other unit of measuring work. This latter approach can tend to be a bit more accurate in terms of effort left to completion. ETC can also be used to derive remaining cost and schedule information."

When to Communicate

"A daily touch point (for example, a face to face meeting) and a daily status report should be used during a project rescue. The length of each can vary from time to time, but keeping to a daily schedule like this keeps the team focused. People tend to do most of their work when faced with an immediate deadline."

Communicate to Whom

"This includes the entire extended project team: sponsors, stakeholders, project team members, end users, and interested third parties."

How to Communicate

"Real-time, interactive contact with members of the project team is vital. Both reports and meetings/workshops need to be used to communicate the essence of the deliverables. Foregoing one of these will not produce the desired results. Rescue manageres need to resist calls from team members to let them focus on work by skipping meetings or workshops."

"Distribution lists for e-mails, voicemails, pager numbers, and home contact numbers should be built right at the start of the rescue initiative. There should be several groupings, such as a project management distribution list, extended distribution list, and core team distribution list."

"This information should be documented in a formal communication plan and be approved by the Executive Sponsor. Once approved, the lists should be distributed to all project stakeholders - probably at the rescue kickoff meeting."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.