Effective communication in IT projects (Part 1)

Original author: Krzysztof Rakowski
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One of the most important factors for the success or failure of an IT project is communication. Effective communication can be a daunting task, especially when a lot of specialists with different work experience, level of responsibility and authority are involved in the project. The problem is aggravated when the participants involved in the project belong to different organizations with different working styles.
Effective communication takes place when information is delivered, while the content is unchanged for the receiving party, as well as for the sender, and also initiates the expected action.

Why is it important to communicate effectively?

Imagine several scenarios. You will probably recall similar ones from your own practice:

  • Team Leader must track project status. All tasks are stored in the incident accounting system. Unfortunately, the tasks were not named descriptively enough. For example, an error in the interface form of the application was named as: “Something is wrong with the form”, and the need for a database backup is named as “Need help!” URGENTLY! ” Each time, Timlid is forced to rediscover the task in order to understand what is at stake. Of course, the right solution would be to immediately rename the task without delay to “Violation of validation in the contact form” and “backup of the db0245 @ host1 database”.
  • An email arrives at the developer entitled “Only one question.” He cannot quickly understand that the message refers to a mistake in the search engine and should be redirected to a colleague. He has to open the letter and delve into the essence of the matter only in order to carry out the forwarding.
  • The project manager organizes one or two hour meetings every week in order to discuss the progress of the project with the whole team. Each participant talks about their site for several minutes and then gets bored while others are talking. From time to time, someone raises a big question, interesting only to him and the project manager. As a result, taking into account the employee’s salary per hour of work, a large amount of the company's money was thrown into the wind as a result of such counterproductive meetings.
  • The developer is trying to focus on solving an important problem, but he is constantly distracted by phone calls from colleagues on various non-urgent issues.

As we can see, effective communication is critical. Without this, there are a lot of problems: lost time (which means lost money), poor code, inefficient software development, delays and products that do not meet expectations. The reputation of the company and the trust of the user are at risk.


Employees involved in the process may feel that their time is not appreciated, which leads to frustration.

In this article, I will share the observations gleaned by me in IT projects for three years. As a development team, I worked with about 30 employees of various professions: developers, testers, system administrators, designers, usability specialists, project managers and client-side employees. Working in such an environment, I identified the main obstacles to effective communication.
I was also involved in developing techniques to overcome such obstacles. We will discuss most of the problems and countermeasures in relation to teamwork, but freelancers can also find use in this information to work with clients and partners.

Effective communication saves money, time and labor, and this happens when the following requirements are met:
  • Message topics should be easily identifiable (Moreover, by the word “messages” I mean not only e-mail, but any kind of communication)
  • The content of the message should be understood as quickly as possible.
  • Describe events clearly and clearly in your message.
  • Drive efficiently
  • Engage only those resources (people, tools, etc.) that are necessary to complete the task

Proper communication leads to the following achievements:
  • The rhythm of the project is smooth, measured
  • Tim leaders monitor progress on their project sites
  • People with different levels of responsibility are better involved in the project.
  • People feel that they respect their time and results.

Effective communication in IT projects can be briefly described in three words: visibility, traceability, readability.


E-mail is the basis of communication in the bulk of organizations. It is surprising that many people still do not know how to use this tool correctly.
The subject line is the first line that the recipient sees. The subject should be brief and explain the general meaning of the letter. The addressee may need to consult the letter in the future, perhaps in weeks or months. Therefore, the subject of the message should clearly contain the name of the project (including the name of the customer, for some organizations) and the actual subject of the conversation.
Of course, not every subject of conversation can be correlated with any project - in this case, make every effort to make the subject of the letter understandable.Take into account the fact that you can work on one project for a company and the theme “ACME Corp: New Images” may sound good for you, but in the marketing department, work can be done on several projects for this organization, and each project includes “New images".

The following are some good message topics:
  • ACME Corp. | HR Portal | Draft functional documentation, ver. 0.1
  • ACME Product Page - questions after a meeting with the marketing department from March 5th
  • Please send your report - deadline: March 10

Nicky for customers and projects, a separator icon - all this must be coordinated with all those involved in the project. Further, all project participants can configure filters in email clients for each project. This is especially important for managers receiving hundreds of email messages.

The following are some really bad email headers:
  • ACME
  • Question
  • Inquiry
  • New pictures
  • We are going to lunch at 13.00

Especially if the last heading refers to a letter containing important project documentation. Unfortunately, this happens in life ... A

clear header of the letter quickly tells the recipient the contents of the message and gives an understanding of how urgently an answer is needed and in what form. For this purpose, you do not need to change the topic throughout the correspondence (“By the way, about that task ...” - the road to nowhere). Either change the title, or write a separate letter.

The “To” and “Cc” fields help distinguish between the actual message recipients and those who simply need to be informed without having to take any action. As a rule, the recipient from the “To” field should read and possibly respond, at the same time, for the recipient of the “Cc” field, it is enough to simply read the message.
Oftenmanagers want to be informed, including about cases for which they are not directly responsible, and they can configure mail filters in such a way as to view such messages from time to time. Do not put in “Cc” someone you expect a response from.


The last rule, perhaps saving, is to reflect everything in the draft in writing. People tend to forget arrangements made by telephone or verbally at meetings. It is also quite possible, and other forms of communication, in addition to e-mail, may be useful in the project. We will discuss this later.
After a call or meeting, write down everything and send it out to everyone involved. Thus, you will not miss anything.

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