Archive for May, 2015

This week, I observed three different modes of communication, written text, voicemail, and face-to-face in the multimedia program “The Art of Effective Communication”.   According to Portny et al. (2008), effective communication is the key to successful project management. “The ability to communicate, both orally and in writing, is a critical skill for project managers”(Portny et al.,2008,p.357). In project management, utilizing a combination of written text and audio or written text and face-to-face communication can be the very effective if done well.

First, I observed the email communication.  The email communication is a written record from Jane to Mark regarding a missing report that he did not deliver on time and may cause her to miss her own deadline.  Although it is good that this information was captured in writing, I did not sense the urgency of the issue in the email. It is important that Jane conveys a clear message that will capture the recipient’s attention to point out the urgency of the issue.  The use of color contrast, color combinations, upper and lowercase lettering, bullets, and/or bolded font could have been utilized by Jane in this email.

Next, I observed the voicemail communication.  Although the same exact message was communicated from Jane to Mark via voicemail, I was able to interpret the urgency of the issue by the tone used in Jane’s voice.  However, utilizing voicemail alone may not be enough because Jane will not be able to confirm whether or not Mark received the message or if he received it in a timely manner. “Using voicemail to communicate with coworkers is a necessary evil, but for many people listening to voicemail and returning messages is time consuming and breaks their concentration”(How, n.d.).  Younger employees now communicate messages via Tweets, IMs, and text messages (How, n.d.).

Finally, I observed the face-to-face communication.  When Jane spoke to Mark directly, I did not sense the urgency of the issue in her voice.  More than likely, she did not want to be confrontational when speaking directly to Mark.  Communicating this way is informal and the information discussed still needs to be captured in writing.  Therefore using a combination of these communication methods may be more effective.


How to use voicemail effectively at work. (n.d.). Retrieved  from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The art of effective communication [Video file]. Retrieved from

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects: Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Currently, I work in a department for a company that provides support for an automated survey tool that enables our customers to provide timely and specific feedback on their customer experience.  Customers who recently had contact with us will receive an automated call, email, or SMS and be asked a few simple questions about how well the interaction went on a daily basis.  Coaches and supervisors receive survey results and customer comments on a daily basis and this information is used to assist them in coaching and recognition.  These results help supervisors and their employees clearly understand their areas of weakness and strength.

Our group develops new and modifies existing surveys for clients in various business units throughout the company.  While working in this department, I previously worked on project to modify an existing survey for a client that did not result in desired outcomes.  The original PM working on the project left the company and the project was reassigned to me.  Initially, the project appeared to be routine with just a few changes to the questions and a change from a ten (10) point response scale to a five (5) point scale. A statement of work, business requirements, and project plan was already developed and the project appeared to be on track for a successful implementation.  The client’s desire was to increase customer take rates by offering customers shorter surveys to complete.

However, after subsequent meetings with the client, it was discovered that a major requirement had been missed and the entire project was in jeopardy of failing.  I learned that this was one of our only clients that conducted the survey in various languages.  This requirement was not in the original business requirements and not factored into the project plan.  Although less than five (5) percent of the total surveys were conducted in another language, it was vital to have all the languages implemented in production due to labor contracts.  The client admitted to missing this requirement in the initial project scope, however, our team should have anticipated this need.  There were new people on both the client’s side and our side and this requirement was missed.  According to Portney et. al (2008), “the more thoroughly a project manager plans and manages a project, the more likely the project will be deemed a success”.

The scope of the entire project changed with this new requirement.  Language translations were necessary and the entire survey had to be re-recorded in various languages.  Talent had to be hired to record the surveys and this impacted the budget and timeline of the project.  Testing was also more complicated because only testers who can understand the language perform the test.  Coordination with testers throughout the country in different time zones had to be worked into the schedule as well.  A change in scope document was necessary and new signoffs were required.   The project had to be delivered in multiple versions.  The first version, surveys were offered in English and Spanish only, which was the standard.  In the second version, all other languages were offered.  This problem could have been avoided if more experienced and senior staff on both our side and the client’s side participated during the initial stages of the project.  Also, in order to avoid this problem from occurring again in the future, even if an employee leaves the company, a detailed template was developed outlining all the requirements and considerations needed for new or modified surveys.  In addition, all documentation is stored in a location that can be retrievable by all employees in our group.


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.