Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Communication. Communication. Communication.

It's not surprising to state that communication is key to a successful and smooth launch of any project.  And its importance only grows with the increased number of partners you are working with.  From our experience, there's really no concept of over-communication when working on a multi-partner project.

The previous blog showcased the large number of partners working on the 'Learn, Out of the Box' program.  Their role ranges from providing the digital content to creating the Learning with Vodafone application to implementers, etc.  Many partners' work is linked to another partner's output.

The communication channels flowed in all directions (and in circles!) with multiple parties interacting with the same parties separately.  For example, Pratham and the Vodafone Emerging Markets teams were interacting with Carve Niche (the digital content provider) independently at various points during the project.  This led to some misunderstandings and confusion, as Carve Niche wasn't always given consistent messages or given messages that the other party approved off.

During the project, there were definitely black holes of communications due to which issues and complications arose.  For the next phase and any other projects, we work on, the following are the rules we will follow:
  • Assign one person to be responsible for each party.  If another person from the team is speaking to that party, then the point person has to be kept in the loop.  This can be done by sending everyone involved a quick recap e-mail of the conversation.
  • Schedule regular calls with each partner and ensure that all those concerned are on the call.  The call can be used to go over status and any outstanding issues or bottlenecks.  The calls can be weekly, bi-monthly, etc. depending on the need.  And this may change depending on the phase the project is in and the criticality of the partner's output
The above seems time consuming, and it is, but it's critical.  The delays and frustration caused by lack of communication and openness can ultimately derail the project or create issues that waste more time.
Even though goal amongst the partners is the same, each partner has their own point of view which translates into their actions.