Information Distribution

October 12, 2009

When you distribute information it has to be properly organized information rather than raw data. Thus while you may have a lot of discrete inputs related to the performance of your project, what you want to distribute is if the project is on track. If not, the variance and the impact on project time and cost budget. You have to recognize the inputs that make sense. Similarly you have to arrange how to process these and what tools to use for that. A project manager also notes what kind of output documents are to be produced. The project management plan decides what information needs to be gathered and distributed across the enterprise. These bits of information go out to update the organizational process assets. These assets are consulted again at future monitoring points.

Information Distribution & Techniques

The information distribution has to happen right through the project life cycle usually during the execute phase. This is done at planned intervals as well as when requested by the stakeholders. Several techniques make the information distribution process effective. A good writing style is essential in conveying information correctly. Use of active/passive voice, sentence structure and word choices are part of this style issue. While a simple sentence structure and word style makes communication clear and concise, verbosity can obfuscate information. Presentation techniques that convey a confident body language and uses effective visual aids helps disseminate information better. Managing a meeting, building of consensus and overcoming obstacles are some other techniques that will be useful.

Finally the sender-receiver model and the media used also determine the effectiveness of information distribution. The sender-receiver model determines what the feedback loops are and what barriers to communications exist. The choice of media is situational. Situations decide when to use a written report versus an oral report, informal memo versus formal report as well as when to send an email versus meeting face to face.

Information Distribution Inputs

Information to be distributed comes from various inputs. These include the project management plan. Performance reports are a major source of information. These carry project performance as well as status reports. You need to generate forecasts too. While earned value method may often be used for forecasting, other methods used include comparing with past projects, remaining work re-estimation, impact of external events on the time schedule etc.

Organizational Process assets are an important set of inputs as well as outputs to be maintained. These assets determine how information would be distributed to a large extent. For example policies, procedures and guidelines regarding information distribution can be and are determined by these assets. Report templates often come out of these assets. Historical information and lessons learned can have influence on the information distribution too. Quite often these may determine the techniques used in variance analysis, what kind of analysis to be done etc. Lessons learnt can indicate what’s significant about the project performance data and what needs to be captured and presented for discussions.

Tools and techniques used are communication methods and information distribution tools. A large number of methods exist that can be used for distributing information. These include meetings, audio/video conferences and computer based communication such as IM and others. Information distribution tools include hardcopy, press releases, filing systems and so on. Electronic communication means and project management tools including project collaboration websites too.

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