Communication with clients and sponsors

In many projects you have to deal with project sponsors. Therefore, we would like to take a closer look at this topic. Communication with clients is one of the most important types of communication in the business environment. In general, good, transparent communication is at the heart of every project and one of the most important factors for project success. Many experts assume that communication is 50 to 80 percent decisive for success in a project. Communication with project sponsors naturally takes on a decisive role here, because without project financing, there is no project. And ultimately, the sponsors have to make decisions for the project process, which are also crucial for success. So there is every reason to prioritize communication with project sponsors and clients.
A man bends over his laptop, in the background people walk past a whiteboard with notes.

Do good and talk about it

If you write, you stay, but if you talk, you make progress. Always remember that it's incredibly important to never make clients feel like they're missing out or left out somewhere. The top premise is that sponsors should always be aware of the progress of their project. They should be as familiar with the project as the project manager and his or her close associates - at a minimum, they should be aware of all the important steps. Sure, you can prepare the details to the point where they can be conveyed compactly, but your contact at the client should never feel that you are hiding anything. Often sponsors are not experts. Sometimes they finance several projects at the same time and have only limited time to deal with details. So prepare everything in a way that is easy to understand even for someone who is not familiar with all the technical terms. One tip: always have the details and additional information up your sleeve. You're basically writing two reports, one simple and quick to review, and one detailed in case your sponsor wants to go deeper in certain areas. This also makes you look perfectly prepared and able to answer any question.

Bring about decisions

You are the project manager, so you need to present the information about the project in a way that the sponsors and clients can make their decisions. You certainly have a good idea of what the best decision is for the project. The sponsors have much less insight into the project and trust your recommendation. But at the same time, they need to feel like they know all the options and can make their own, and more importantly, informed decision. That's only fair, and it's also in your best interest. Also, always keep in mind that in many cases, a decision not made or postponed can cause significantly more problems than a decision that may not be optimal. The challenge is to concisely and accurately put all the facts on the table in a short period of time to make the best decision possible.

As brief as possible, as detailed as necessary.

That's now the third phrase that's been trotted out here. I apologize for that. But this mnemonic simply sums it up very well: keep your communications with sponsors as concise as possible while being as precise as possible. It's a tightrope walk. Here are a few tips on how to succeed: When composing an email to your sponsors, take a moment to think about the subject line. In general, keep your email rather short and choose a particularly concise subject line. Only a few words, but meaningful and to the point. For the content of the email, mirror strokes or lists of keywords are a good idea. Everything else is explained in a longer document, while the e-mail already communicates the most important information. There should be no doubt about where what kind of decision is required. It may also be a good idea to color-code in a list of eight key points those where a decision must be made. Gantt charts are good for showing and illustrating project progress, but less so for communicating with sponsors and clients because there is just such an incredible amount of information bundled in a Gantt chart. So try to create an overview that lives up to its name and is clearly laid out. Another tip: Always send it in PDF format so that everyone can open and read the information.

Personal appointments for important decisions

An email is a popular and convenient means of communication. But when really important decisions are at hand, it pays to schedule a face-to-face appointment with your sponsor. This is especially true when sensitive information needs to be conveyed and sensitive issues need to be addressed. In some cases, it can also be smart to organize a preparation meeting together with the sponsors before an important briefing appointment. All the important points can be addressed at this meeting. For this meeting, it is best to prepare an agenda that clearly states the issues and questions that will be addressed. This ensures that no important questions are left out of the preparation and that the sponsors can prepare for all questions. Make sure you have properly understood all the sponsor's requests and suggestions during this preparation meeting. And most importantly, sponsors will not have any surprises during the briefing appointment and will feel well prepared.
Author: IAPM internal

Key words: Project management, Communikation, Sposors, Stakeholder, Tip

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