Communication and Collaboration in Project Management – Interview with Robert Kelly

Here is the 4th of my project management interview series on Twitter and it was on the case and importance of “Communication and Collaboration in Project Management.”

Communication and collaboration are two very critical factors that must be considered in any given project. So to explain their roles in project management, I had to interview Robert Kelly ( ).

Robert Kelly is the Managing Partner of Kelly Project Solutions.  He is also the Co-Founder and Host of weekly #PMChat, a global community of Project Manager’s that collaborate on leadership and project management best practices via Twitter.

JERRY: How would you summarize Robert Kelly in 140 characters or less? robert-kelly

ROBERT: Blessed Husband plus Father of 3. Professionally, love being dropped into a mess and fixing it, as well as mentoring others. Others have described me as ‘intense’ or ‘direct’…always someone they want on their side of the table

JERRY: In your own words, define communication and collaboration as relating to project management.

ROBERT: Methodology, process, and tools are all garbage in, garbage out. Communication plus collaboration are the anchors for success. Collaboration enables good requirements gathering and innovative solutions, while communication casts vision, removes doubt plus noise, and instills confidence.

JERRY: Between traditional and web-based project management collaboration tools, which do you think is gaining the upper hand?

ROBERT: Without a doubt, web-based tools are gaining the upper hand. Everywhere I turn, I notice that clients are enabling more mobility. Web-based apps such as Lync, Salesforce Chatter, etc, are enabling real-time collaboration. So without a doubt, web-based tools are gaining the upper hand.

JERRY: Based on your answer, Robert, it seems traditional project management collaboration tools will soon be phased out.

ROBERT: Not sure about the ‘soon’! Many firms are moving slowly, and the amount of money spent on project management collaboration tools will drive the rate of adoption, although the willingness is there.

JERRY: How much impact do you think cloud technology is having on project management collaboration tools?

ROBERT: Cloud has been around much longer than people thought. However, increases in bandwidth, more cloud apps and its acceptance is driving project management collaboration tools. More options and open-source technology are driving down costs and increasing availability, globally. Also, subscription models for cloud PPM tools are great for the scalability most organizations need in PMO, but more or less, licenses are needed.

JERRY: Project managers consider costs a lot in project management, so I think they would accept any tool that would help reduce cost as long as it is efficient and effective.

ROBERT: Absolutely.

JERRY: There’s a saying that effective communication is the most critical success factor in project management. Do you agree with that?

ROBERT: I find that perception and noise on a project creates some of the most ‘wasted’ efforts. Yes, effective communication is easily top. Leadership in project management and solid requirements may round out the top 3 needs for project success.

JERRY: A lot of project managers talk about effective communication, tell us, how can communication be made “effective”?

ROBERT: Good question, Jerry! I get 100+ emails per day, and that’s communication! But for any communication to be made “effective,” it must be clear and concise. Too many long-winded emails with actions and issues buried somewhere within. Communication should be actionable. Not too many status updates or ‘FYI’ emails. Your communication must enable action and elicit a decision. If you want someone to answer something, bold their name…make it red. Be clear, example: “John, I need…,” “Larry, you must…”

JERRY: How much impact do you think technology and social media is having on project communication?

ROBERT: We’re currently having a global chat in 140 character chunks via Twitter, and it’s forcing short responses in a near-real time pace. That’s one of the impacts technology and social media are having on communication. Carrying on to business, technology is enabling quicker communication and in a more efficient manner, for example, you update one spot and it replicates.

JERRY: What advice would you give to a project manager trying to develop his/her communication skills?

ROBERT: Just like breathing, we’ve been talking our whole lives, and that’s communication too, though we do take it for granted. Even top athletes learn to breathe again in order to boost their athleticism, so we all have life-long habits of communicating, but it will take time to hone it properly. I would suggest that any project manager who’s trying to develop his/her communication skills should join clubs such Toastmasters – they Chapters in most countries, including Nigeria. Also, in developing your written communication skills, you must consider your audience and what the goal of your message is before sending it out.

JERRY: I’m curious! As the Co-Founder and Host of the weekly #PMChat on Twitter, tell us how you came about such idea?

ROBERT: Wish I could take credit for it, but it was Rob Prinzo (@robprinzo) who presented the initial idea to me. He participated in one, it was different topic though. And August 2014 marked our 4th year of doing #PMChat. It is the premier community of #pmot – patient with me, supportive to each other, and awesome!

JERRY: We are almost coming to the end of this conversation and I want to ask you an off question – How do you see my “Project Management for Africa” Initiative?

ROBERTS: It’s a great vision! Projects break new grounds or solve a problem others have tried before. This collaboration will help!


I hope you enjoyed and learnt some ideas and tips from this exclusive interview with Robert.

I’m looking forward to reaching out to various project management students, graduates, practitioners, professionals and consultants in Africa and around the world and sharing their stories, experiences, knowledge, insights and ideas with you through my exclusive project management interviews.

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