Paul Coffey

It’s a fundamental part of any project, “do we understand each other”? There must be a million ways of expressing the same issue but “are we both on the same page?” pretty much covers it.

At Coast Digital, we spend a huge amount of time and effort in understanding our audiences, their behaviours and the challenges the project faces. We spend time creating that shared understanding with our clients, creating a solution which meets those challenges and making sure we are both “on the same page”.

Communication is the key

In our experience clear, well sign-posted communication is the key to this. I’m sure you’re familiar with statements like “communication is key” or “communication is always an issue”.

From my perspective communication is not AN ISSUE but usually THE ISSUE.

Have we all understood what we need to do, collectively, to make this project a success? Do we all agree what our audiences want to achieve from the project we’re running?

Developing behaviours which encourage these kinds of shared understanding and clear communication is an ongoing process. In the future making this communication not only ‘clear’ and ‘well sign-posted’ but also ‘frictionless’ will be increasingly important.

The way we communicate is changing

I think it’s true to say communication habits are changing. We’re working with clients for whom shorter, more informal ‘quick hit’ communication is natural. Often what someone needs is a quick check of facts or agreed approach. A ‘check-in’ to confirm their understanding rather than a complicated chain of communication via a project or account manager.

Project management tools like Teamwork and Slack (both of which we use) allow us to explore this kind of direct (or frictionless) communication. Direct executive or developer to client communication, traditionally, goes via a ‘manager’. Given how hard we work to get a shared understanding of our goals, there no reason to slow this down. We’ve already managed the risk by working on a common understanding of the audience together.

It’s a common occurrence for one of our development team to communicate directly with a client on questions or to check their understanding.

Benefits of frictionless communication

We’ve found the benefits of this frictionless communication in the most surprising places.

Improving the speed of response is obvious. We’ve also found giving a client direct channels into our team improves their confidence in individual team members and gives our team confidence they understand what the client wants.

In our project work, we’re focused on removing impediments, giving both our clients and our teams the ability, and confidence, to talk directly.

I believe the world will move away from email as an ‘in engagement’ (either a campaign or project) communication tool and into a more message based culture – we’re just at the beginning of that process. The value of ‘being on the same page’ is huge, and we’re constantly exploring the tools required to improve communication and bring us closer to together.

After all, some things never change. The benefit of being on the same page as your client (or agency) is one of those things.

What are you preferred ways of communicating during projects? Are you using any ‘frictionless’ tools that lean more towards messaging culture?

Why not communicate your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below?

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