Want to learn how to kill email novels and decrease your explanatory text by 78%? Keep reading for some communication hacks for project management processes.
In an earlier life, project management was my job, a job that left me constantly overseeing hundreds of projects, optimizing and troubleshooting project workflows as I went. Occasionally I would attempt to pass urgent projects from our US team at the end of our day to offices in Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, or Peru, achieving a constant stream of productivity. However, this wasn’t a system that I took advantage of very often, as communication barriers made handoffs difficult.
Transferring projects between our office and another office would sometimes require an hour or more per project that was spent collecting project materials and updating the team on the project status. I would often write excruciatingly detailed emails, which must have been as painful for others to read as they were for me to write. Some of the finer details would almost inevitably get lost in the sea of text. Bolding, highlighting, underlining text and using a few colors to draw attention to the very important elements of the plan, I would cross my fingers and send my detailed missive, praying that my emails would be read in their entirety so that I wouldn’t have a fire on my hands when I came back to the office.
What I really needed was a way to eliminate my email novels and a way to visualize process detail without getting mired down in text so that I could achieve seamless handoffs. What I really needed was Lucidchart. Lucidchart is the perfect communication hack for project management processes because it enables you to illustrate a process, show dependencies and relationships, and achieve alignment with your team all on one collaborative canvas. Here are some helpful hacks on how to use Lucidchart to eliminate some of the email novels in your life:
1. Use Flowcharts
It may sound simple, but it always amazes me how much clarity I can achieve both for myself and for others when I map out a simple process with a flowchart. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of an email vs. a flowchart? Try this simple experiment. Compare the time it takes you to understand this email vs. this flowchart:
Not only is the flowchart much easier on the eyes, clearly illustrating relationships and handoffs, but a project management flowchart decreased the text required to communicate the process by 78%. Next time a similar project comes up, I could have make minor tweaks, expending little additional effort to get my team in Germany on the same page.
2. Try Swimlanes
Swimlanes take a flowchart to a whole new level of clarity with minimal additional effort. They enable project managers to emphasize ownership for various project-related tasks. Instead of having to decipher which part of the process each team is responsible for, swimlanes make process assignments much more visual and cut down on words an additional 15%.
Because swimlanes make ownership extremely clear, the chance of someone missing a crucial step in the process decreases significantly. In fact, Lucidchart users in the operations industry report an average transparency increase of 34% within their organization after they’ve started using Lucidchart. What more could a project manager ask for?
3. Keep project-related conversation where you work
Instead of using Slack, email, and Google Docs to communicate changes and/or questions when it comes to your project management process, Lucidchart lets you manage communication right within its interface. You can chat, start a hangout, and add comments or questions with the click of a button. No need to try to describe which step of the process you’re referring to when you or your colleagues have questions—you can all mark your feedback and questions directly on your diagram and get each others’ attention with @mentions.
Changing platforms and explaining context when it comes to process takes valuable time and wastes valuable words. Making your communication part of your living, breathing process in Lucidchart saves significant time and helps immensely when it comes to tracking project management processes.
As a project manager, clear and concise communication translates to more time, which translates to more money. Taking advantage of Lucidchart can help anyone, but especially project managers, understand and share ideas ideas, information, and processes with clarity.