Being able to communicate effectively is a skill that will stand you in good stead, both in your personal and work life. However, missing out on vital communication at work can be the difference between a project failing or succeeding.
If a task is particularly complicated, with several team players and a host of documentation, it becomes even easier to lose track of the conversations.
Multiple communication channels can add to the confusion. With some information shared through instant messaging, while other files are sent via email, and yet further conversations completed with texts, it is easy to see how vital communications can get lost in transition.
Factor in the time lost searching for a particular file while battling a deadline, and chaos is the result.
One way to deal with this issue is to use centralized communication.
What is centralized communication?
Centralized communication involves all stakeholders being connected to a central hub, which stores all the communications in one place, including all the necessary documentation and information.
It allows communication to be contextualized into subjects and projects, and can even be broken down into sub-sections so that each conversation is tracked and maintained efficiently, including all relevant documentation and scheduling.
The benefits of centralized communication are numerous, and include:
A problem often experienced during projects is that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. If there is any communication confusion it means that the team is unclear as to the exact situation at any particular point of time.
Centralized communication removes that barrier. You have access to all communication, plus all relevant files saved in one easy-to-access area. This offers increased transparency and ensures everyone is on the same page at all times.
Everyone is on the same page
With emails flying back and forth it is so easy to miss that crucial communication. With a centralized system no one misses the information. All team members are constantly up to date to the latest conversation, documentation and information. This translates to everyone always being up-to-date on all communication.
It is also much easier to ask for advice and help, or to spot and deal with potential issues as they arise. As all team members have access to each other’s files and communication, errors can be easily dealt with before they become problems.
Define your own audience
With a centralized communication, it is possible to communicate to the whole company, to a specific team, or a single person. Depending on the task or the project you can create custom audiences to pass specific information to.
Only those who need particular information will receive it. However, you still have the option to chat with anyone or everyone who is accessible or participating in any supporting role.
A centralized communication system offers more opportunities for a tighter schedule for the whole team.
All participants are fully aware of the movements of their team members through transparency, and scheduling important tasks can be achieved without constantly checking availability.
Ease of sharing documentation
When a user shares a document via centralized communication systems, it remains on the system. If a newer version is added, both versions remain on the system for referencing and comparison if required.
It becomes not only easier to share documentation, but also to access the correct file for each particular task. It also means that everyone has the most up-to-date copies of all communications.
Increased task focus
By having a central place to store all your communication, it becomes much easier to focus on the task in hand. With email, for example, you are constantly blasted with irrelevant messages that can easily distract you.
When you work exclusively within your delegated communication platform for your particular project, you will only be subjected to information surrounding the task-in-hand. As an added bonus, task prioritization becomes easier and more consistent.
Storing messages, files and pertinent information within your computer’s file manager is perfectly acceptable. However, depending on the system you use, it can take a while to track certain documents when you need them.
Add in other forms of communication, such as instant messaging, email, meeting notes etc, and it can be quite a task to find exactly what you are looking for.
Using a centralized communication system means that every relevant piece of information for every different task and project can be stored right where you can find it.
You don’t have to second guess what file it is in, what communication channel you have used, or what name you have used for the file.
Improved time management
Everybody’s busy these days; too busy to waste time chasing emails, tracking down files, returning calls, arranging meetings – just to ensure your communication network is open and flowing.
With a centralized system, those days are behind you. Because everything you require for the task is right where you need it, when you need it – for you and the whole team – you save hours of your precious time.
Depending on the task you are working on, some documents and conversations may be sensitive and not for general broadcasting.
The best tools allow you to select your audience as mentioned above, but will also protect your communications and files cyber-security measures, such as passwords, and encryption. Therefore communication and documentation is kept safe within its server.
There’s always turnover in your staff, whatever business you are in. If it happens in the middle of a project it can set the task back while the new member is brought up to speed. Plus, all the communications of the ex-member have to be transferred over, so that the new employee has everything he needs.
With centralized communication, this is no longer an issue. After the new team member is added to the system, he can spend a little time catching up on the communication, reading files and messages, and generally becoming familiar with the project.
In the meantime, work carries on as normal. With this method the impact of staff turnover is minimized.
With less time wasted on catching up on emails and speeding off to meetings, the result is an increase in productivity.
As focus on each project increases as an effect of better communications, project management becomes more efficient.
The aim of any communication system is to ensure clarity of information and thus pave the way for a clutter-free project. The end result should always be increased productivity and ultimately profits, but the journey to get there should be as straightforward as possible.
A centralized communication system has benefits to the company, but also to the user:
- It takes away the frustrations of finding what you need, when you need it.
- It simplifies the discussions within a certain task.
- It offers transparency across the board, yet allows security of information.
Is it time you considered centralized communications for your company?
I recently gave an interview on the Talon Storage blog about improving collaboration at the workplace, you can read it here.