Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

Manage Project Communication

Project managers must understand all communication methods and mediums in order to determine which are best for any situation that may arise. These choices are influenced by many factors, as discussed in detail in this chapter.

Overcoming Communication Challenges

The primary factors that affect project communication are language barriers, geographic separation and time zone differences, technological factors, and cultural differences. Project managers must also be prepared for interorganizational and intraorganizational differences, communication plan requirements, and plain old personal preference. Understanding these influences can help a project manager pinpoint issues that are delaying or interrupting tasks and choose the best solution. Taking the time to overcome, or at least mitigate, these barriers can improve communication quality, increase the team’s internal cohesion and trust, facilitate knowledge transfers, improve productivity, and decrease overall development time.

Language Barriers

The effects of language barriers are usually easy to anticipate. If project team members or stakeholders do not share a common language, the project manager will have to provide translation or interpretation services. Solutions may involve translating documents, employing interpreters for verbal communication, or using visual methods of communication and training. If the issue is fluency level, adding closed captioning for live speakers and subtitles for recorded audio can greatly improve comprehension. Another strategy is for the affected team members to learn some basics of the other language(s) needed, which is also an excellent means of team building. Even though mastery of the other language is rarely achieved, just learning the basics can help with simple communication. Having a bilingual team member is also feasible, but constantly translating for the team can become a strain and might delay project work.

While verbal language barriers seem obvious, projects may also involve hearing-impaired personnel. Sign language interpreters may be needed. Some deaf or hearing-impaired people read lips, but that does not help if they speak or read in a different language from other people with whom they need to communicate.

Time Zones and Geographical Factors

As with language barriers, it is fairly easy to anticipate how time zones and geography will affect project communication. The communication plan should always document the time zone and area for team members or stakeholders who are not co-located. The project manager should be mindful during scheduling to ensure that time and location will not affect tasks or dependencies; this includes accounting for regional holidays. The communication plan should list methods of sharing meeting results with absent members if time zones conflict with their ability to attend.

EXAMPLE: A project manager and most of her team are based in New York, NY, USA, on Eastern Standard Time (EST), UTC–5. Other team members reside in New Delhi, India, on India Standard Time (IST), UTC +5.5, and in London, England, on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), UTC +0. The project manager might schedule the weekly team meeting as a half-hour video conference at 8:00 a.m. EST (6:30 p.m. IST, 1:00 p.m. GMT) so that the New Delhi team members do not have to work late into the evening. Another option would be to schedule a daily remote stand-up from her home at 7:00 a.m. EST for the international team only (5:30 p.m. IST and 12:00 p.m. GMT), and have a second daily stand-up for the New York team at 10:00 a.m. EST. The project manager could share any issues reported by the international team members during the second, local stand-up.

The primary challenge of geographically separate teams is that it can limit most interactions to slow, asynchronous methods like email, decreasing communication frequency and quality. To compensate, encourage team members to interact more frequently and to try multiple synchronous channels, such as phone calls, Skype, Slack, and chat. All team members should know when they can communicate with remote coworkers and which channels to use. Some communication tools can trigger an alert if a team member sends a message or schedules a meeting outside of the recipient’s working hours.

Be sure to remember that geographical factors affect team members differently. Team members in different countries, or even different parts of the same country, might face very different weather or traffic conditions that affect travel, procurement, or meetings. A project manager in the northeastern U.S. may need to convert all in-person meetings to video conferences during winter to minimize weather hazards.

Technological Factors

Given how much project communication relies on technology, it can be daunting to contemplate the many ways it can interfere with communication instead. A weak technical infrastructure can make it difficult for team members to coordinate their work on joint tasks or solve problems. Technological factors include faulty or aging equipment, unreliable utilities, accessibility issues, user discomfort, and security.

The project manager should document any known technological issues and attempt to resolve or bypass them. For example, all video calls should include a dial-in number so that team members can join by phone if their Internet connection is interrupted. If a user is uncomfortable with a tool or application, determine whether the problem is lack of training or accessibility. Not everyone can see in color or type text messages on a mobile device. Shrinking device sizes, in particular, affect both older populations and the visually impaired. Documenting which communication platforms team members or stakeholders do not like or cannot use is just as important as documenting their preferences.

Security is a crucial technological factor. Devices issued to personnel may need security controls to protect the organization’s assets, but the project’s needs may conflict with the organization’s security policies. Security controls may need to be disabled or overridden temporarily to let a team member complete a specific task, but they should be restored when the task is complete. For example, the organization’s security policy may block computers from transferring data through USB connections, making it impossible to back up the hard drives on remote team members’ laptops to external media. The project manager should find a secure workaround, such as an approved online backup accessed through a secure cloud gateway.

Finally, as a project manager, you must stay proficient with project management software and Agile tools and adapt to new tools as they are added by the organization. To meet these challenges, you may want to acquire an entry-level technical certification or set aside a training budget for personal skills development. As a proficient modern project manager, you need to keep up with technical complexities so that you can effectively handle projects from start to finish.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences influence how a person thinks about, hears, and sees the outside world as well as how they interpret communications. Culture can refer to a country or region of origin but also to cultures of affinity based on shared interests and attitudes. It is the project manager’s job to perceive and translate cultural differences among stakeholders and team members and to bridge communication gaps.

Cultural differences can affect communication in several ways:

  • Cognitive constraints are largely unconscious worldviews that influence perception. Common sources are religious beliefs, literacy level, educational background, gender, and economic status.

  • Behavioral constraints are the unspoken rules that affect verbal and nonverbal communication. Examples include making eye contact, directly discussing an issue versus talking around it, interrupting a speaker, and encroaching on someone’s “bubble” of personal space.

  • Emotional constraints are deeply held beliefs regarding the display of emotion. They affect whether people find it acceptable to cry, yell, speak boldly, act humbly, or display any strong emotion in the workplace—and how they react when other team members do so.

EXAMPLE: A project involves teams in two different countries. A team member in one country always agrees to the deadlines set by her manager in the other country, but she frequently misses them without explanation. The project manager consults an expert who explains that the team member’s local culture considers it rude to tell a superior “no,” even if the superior’s request cannot be met. The cultural expert is hired to train both teams on how to communicate clearly and set feasible goals.

Cultural differences can exist within the same building, or even within the same team. Interorganizational differences are the differences between organizations, and intraorganizational differences are the differences within an organization. Different divisions within an organization may have very different communication requirements (such as the communication medium, platform, or cadence), which project managers need to recognize and anticipate.

EXAMPLE: All stakeholders receive an emailed status update prior to the weekly meeting. Over a couple of meetings, it becomes apparent that one stakeholder is not reading the status updates, because he often asks questions about topics that were addressed in the email. The project manager questions the stakeholder privately and discovers that he thinks the status emails are not significant. The stakeholder works in a department that must meet stringent requirements for legal discovery, and he believes that a real status update email would be encrypted. Because the updates were in plaintext, the stakeholder thought they could not contain important project information.

Remember that remote team members can feel excluded from an established on-site culture. The best way to overcome this issue is to encourage frequent meetings and verbal communication and ensure that remote members have as much access to project documentation as on-site members. If possible, bring remote members on site for at least one visit per project.

Maintaining Communication Records

All significant project communication (including written notes captured from meetings as well as official documents) should become part of the permanent project record. These archived documents become a valuable repository and knowledge base for future projects, and they also provide a paper trail for procurements. This does not mean that every single email or chat generated during project work is stored; only important messages need to be retained. Everyday updates between team members sent via text messages are just normal conversations, but you would archive an email requesting the change board to authorize a change that affects the project.

A project manager has three key responsibilities regarding records:

  • Security: Preventing unauthorized access to restricted information.

  • Integrity: Ensuring that all relevant records are captured in their most accurate form and not altered in transit or storage.

  • Archiving: Retaining each type of record for the correct length of time in the required format(s) and using the approved storage method(s).

Communication Security

Security means to protect communication records from unauthorized access, corruption (loss of integrity), or theft. Your specific security practices will be governed by both the project’s records management plan and your organization’s data control policies. Authorization for access can be assigned to an individual or to a project function or job role. To provide confidentiality, you should not allow individuals to access project records for which they do not have authorization. Some information may go on the general project dashboard, while some status reports may have an approved email distribution list; project tools can also assign varying levels of access at the user level. When a project communication is classified for sensitivity, the label should include a data owner. Requests to access restricted records should be approved by the data owner, not the project manager (unless they are also the data owner). Data classification and labels are covered in Chapter 16, “Foundational IT Concepts and Operational Change Control for IT Project Management.”

Confidentiality can be provided by encrypting electronic data in storage, in usage, and in transmission as well as by securing physical storage (such as a locked filing cabinet). To ensure availability, all valid users must have access to the service. While it may be difficult to account for all service outages, project managers should identify service outages that could occur as risks and then document alternative solutions for the team members.

Communication Integrity

Integrity means to maintain the consistency, accuracy, and trustworthiness of a record. Integrity can be addressed through technical or analog means. Your records management plan may require that important project communications be digitally e-signed (such as contracts) or encrypted in storage. Digital signatures can prove message integrity as well as nonrepudiation (sender/receiver validation). Hashes can verify that a communication was not altered when it was transmitted or downloaded.

Individuals should not be able to edit project records after they are stored or to hide project communications from the record. Sometimes project communications are not so much hidden as they are redirected; you may need to limit the ways in which communications are exchanged in order to keep major project communication funneled through the primary platforms and channels authorized for project use, making them easier to capture.

Most projects result in a plethora of documentation, usually distributed in printed form, which requires version control and strategic distribution. Project managers should retain a list of printed media that pertains to the project, noting who owns the master files or should receive copies. Recording this information will help ensure that all interested parties receive documentation when it becomes available and that documentation is not lost if a team member suddenly leaves a project.

Communication Archiving

Archiving means to maintain records in storage until their life cycle ends and they can be destroyed. In larger organizations, archives will be managed by the PMO. As with security, your archiving practice will be dictated by the records management plan and your organization’s record retention policies. The latter governs all contracts, legal records, documents containing sensitive or proprietary information, and communication that should be retained for legal reasons (such as performance reviews). The record retention policies will clarify which types of records should be retained and for how long, as well as the correct storage and disposal methods. Meanwhile, the records management plan documents which project communications must be archived and who has the source documents. It also clarifies the format required for storage (such as printed copies of emails or notarized physical copies of agendas).

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020