Identifiable communication interfaces and planned communication are some of the critical success factors to deliver a successful project. Communication interfaces need to be understood at the outset of a project as this will assist with the transition through the development phase to production. The critical points of contact should be identifiable for all who utilise them as they provide clear delineation of required communication across technology silos. Transparency of information will build effective relationships between the cross functional teams and built trust and strong collaboration.
Adopting clarity amongst existing roles and responsibilities within technology silos will improve communication between technology teams while they prepare to restructure their IT operation to introduce the new function. Representatives of the different support teams should engage in regular “open forum” meetings to ensure each team has visibility of upcoming project issues and changes in scope. Developing open lines of communications between teams will also help prepare the organisation to move the IT project into a production state, drawing on personnel across different support areas to provide a single holistic support team for the IT project.
The engagement between cross functional teams is a consistent theme in the Diaxion roundtable series. It is clear from the research gathered across these events that organisations of all sizes constantly struggle with effective team engagement in IT projects, however representatives of the SMB market have indicated that whilst engaging the team is still an issue, it is much less prevalent due to composite teams and proximity of staff.
For instance, a virtualisation service is complex and therefore has multiple components that constitute the service and equally, there are multiple specialist teams that provide expert knowledge and support to manage the components. Building a successful virtualisation platform requires input from a large number of specialised functional teams, each working on a different component or subsystem of the platform. Of course, these teams cannot work in isolation; in addition to designing their assigned components, they must also integrate their designs with those of the other components to ensure that the entire platform functions as a whole. It is critical, therefore, in planning a complex platform that project managers specify just which resources and information different teams will need from each other at particular stages of the project.
To help manage the communications aspect of such projects, we propose the following approach:
1. Identify unattended interfaces, areas where communication should be occurring but is not.
2. Look for unidentified interfaces, areas where communication is occurring but has not been planned.
To assist in implementing this approach, an alignment matrix can reveal mismatches between the communications and exchanges that are supposed to occur and those that actually do. It also demonstrates how well the project has been planned and executed. Another method of identifying the participation of roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project is to use RACI matrix. Overall, the stated methods of understanding how communication should flow within your organisation will break down barriers and promote healthy, frequent and clear communication between your teams.