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A 10-to-1 rule of email based project management

Imagine for a moment that you are managing a project with ten other participants. Let's say that an important change to the subsequent phase of the project has just been agreed with the sponsors and you need to communicate it to the project team. If you do it via email, this may be the result:

  • 9 people read the email
  • 8 people file the email (in their private folders, thereby duplicating effort)
  • 7 people are interrupted in their work or thoughts when the email arrives
  • 6 people will never be able to find the email again
  • 5 people didn’t actually need to know about the change
  • 4 people joining the project in the next phase wouldn't have received the email
  • 3 people will be able to find the email again, should they need to
  • 2 people will check back to the email at a later date when they need the information
  • 1 of them will understand the email in context, be able to find it at a later date and action it

All is not lost, of course. You can send the email again at a later date, project participants can forward the email on to new members of the project team and the message can be re-iterated and explained in meetings and conference calls.

But why not consider augmenting your project communication tools (and hence your project delivery capability) with a collaborative tool in order to:

  • Cut down on emails and time spent in meetings
  • Manage a single version of important project information
  • Limit the amount of filing done by individuals
  • Preserve important information in a searchable collection
  • Make communication within (and outside of) the project team more effective
  • Make it easy to keep project documentation and reporting up to date



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Stu Downes

I think 9 people to read the email is optimistic :-) but I certainly agree with your thoughts on the use of email.

Pranshu Jain

I completely agree with you. But the The problem with collaboration software is that , atleast in my company they have changed many times in last 6 years ( and with collaboration getting pace and importance, its likely to change as many times in the next six years). So for now, I am happier archiving mails in my mailbox, Thanks to msn desktop search and google desktop search - I can find them too.


Software Testing Services

Interesting. I agree with what you have said about the project members while communicating them via email. This actually happens with my team also. Well the best way against this is to communicate via meetings, major problems be discussed through meetings and else with emails.

Home security products

Are these statistically proven figures?
Seems a bit complicated then to manage this process.

Nathaniel @ project management professional exam

Great post! You have shared realistic ideas about how to utilize much the email and more effective ways in handling your team.

This is of great help.Thanks a lot!

insurance software

Excellent Post, I think it's a great way for utilizing the email and on the way making things more efficient and additionally helping consolidate the projects crew.

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