Team communication is geared toward keeping the team informed and motivated. But what about the customer, who is the sponsor of the project and hence a major stakeholder? Many problems are the result of misunderstandings between the customer and the developers. Regular communication between the development team and the customer can help avoid these kinds of problems.
Status reports (discussed in Chapter 11), one such means of communication, are designed to give the customer a clear idea of the state of the project on an ongoing basis. However, these reports, no matter how elaborate, are not enough. Project managers should plan other means of communication, including weekly teleconferencing or videoconferencing and regular e-mails. In a weekly virtual meeting, the project leader walks through the status report with the customer and explains the project constraints. A key point of discussion is resolution of pending issues. The customer, on the other hand, seeks clarifications and explains her perspective in these meetings. Overall, through regular communication that goes beyond sending reports, both the customer and the development team remain in sync. This prevents many potential problems rooted in misunderstandings.
Despite the use of regular communication channels, issues crop up that the representatives at the two ends cannot resolve. Such issues can potentially delay the project and must be escalated. To facilitate resolution of such issues, a project plan specifies the escalation channels at both the customer end and at the Infosys end. The plan also clearly states the policies regarding when these channels are to be deployed. In addition to providing a mechanism for issue resolution, the specification of this escalation channel and policies creates pressure on the two parties to resolve issues quickly and when necessary to take them to the higher-ups.