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How Do I Plan, Report and Communicate?

Talk to people. Spend some time just talking through the job with each member of your team, your managers and your users. 

Concentrate on making communication effective: see if your team, your managers and your users can answer questions you ask them about your plans. If they can, then you are succeeding. If not, then you may need to try something different.

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Be aware that typically you only remember 20% of what you hear, 30% of what you read, but about 50% of what you both hear and read. Thus you should try to have both written and oral communication together: always write a confirmation of a discussion, telephone call or meeting, and whenever practical follow up a written communication with a verbal clarification. This is particularly important if your team has a mixture of first languages, or widely differing communication skills. It’s also useful in resolving disputes, and essential when working with external suppliers.


In written material, make sure that the structure is clear so that people can refer to it more than once – they may need to try to find the 50% they haven’t remembered! When you’re dealing with your users this is very important – the style of communication may be different but the rules should be exactly the same.

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Make the most of meetings. Make sure every meeting has a clear agenda and objectives. Use them to build joint understanding of the problems and objectives, and to reach a consensus about the way forward. Do allow constructive discussion of relevant topics, but don’t allow your precious time to be chewed up by arguments or technical discussions between two or three people – the simple solution is just to suggest that this is a topic for another meeting. At the end of the meeting, sum up what you believe has been agreed. Make sure that every meeting has minutes – if one of your team does the minutes you can also check (when you review them) that he has understood the main messages of the meeting. An absolute minimum is to document the action points and anything you have agreed on!

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There’s no set list of meetings you must have (although one may be dictated by your management or a contract). However, you should aim to have at least a weekly progress meeting with your team, which should have documented actions and policy decisions. You should also meet formally with your managers and (maybe separately) the users every month, and compare progress with your plan. Again, you should produce minutes stating what you have agreed, and who has what action points.

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