10 Ways to Lower Communication Costs on Your Next Project

Every project has communications associated with it, and not all of them are a good value. In spite of the importance of communication to a project’s success, some companies still spend too much on this area—especially if they don’t have a strong internal comms team or don’t put one in place on external projects. There is plenty that can be done to streamline communications without sacrificing quality.

10 Communication Cost Cutting Tips For Project Managers

What follows are 10 tips for saving costs on your next project by cutting down on communications costs:

  1. Think twice about outsourcing engagements where you need to keep an internal team busy. If there is no compelling reason to staff up for temporary engagements, skip them altogether. Outsourcing provides the benefit of cost savings and more flexibility than an employee-based team, but it also can incur significant costs in terms of communications.

If possible, avoid using the service providers who are known for poor communications. There are many companies with positive reputations for excellent project management tool and strong internal comms that can do the same work at a fraction of the price. This is especially true when you outsource engagements in your own backyard—the company you use to back up your team will likely have better-trained staff members in place than an outsourcing firm halfway around the world.

  1. Hire less costly vendors. This follows from #1: The more effectively their people communicate with your people, the better they’ll be able to provide support and infrastructure without additional charges and at cost than other vendors offering similar services.
  2. Communicate more effectively. Treatment of communication as a necessary evil often leads to an unfocused approach that lacks critical information at key moments. Sometimes this comes from poor experience or bad training—rarely does it come from malice, even if the sender’s intent is willful ignorance.

The solution to this problem starts with better planning and preparation on the part of those who develop project deliverables, but their colleagues must share in the responsibility for good communication—otherwise, there will be no clear plan of action upon which they can rely.

Know When to Meet and Why

  1. Cut down on meetings. If you want your agendas and minutes treated as works-in-progress, then continue to hold discussions that don’t follow a logical format or use tools like Etherpad. But if you want to encourage your teams to advance from the age of email, make sure that meetings are well-planned and focused—and set a good example by being present yourself.
  2. Use the right tools. This area is a frequent target for cutbacks, despite its importance. “We can just use Word docs,” or “Let’s save some money and do video conferencing over an unsecured channel,” or “I don’t need anything fancy.”

Are All The Gadget Necessary?

Really? Then why did you buy all those iPads and high-speed wifi routers last year? Project managers often try to cut costs on comms but overlook areas where more investment might actually produce better results in terms of cost/benefit ratio.

  1. Find the right people. If your company is like most, internal comms isn’t everyone’s priority. You’ll need to start with a corporate communications team when it comes to external projects, but you can make use of internal resources for many areas of in-house project work without having to rely on temporary teams.
  2. Have realistic expectations about what PR firms do. Many companies outsource their PR efforts in hopes that third parties will lower costs or improve results—but then end up dissatisfied with the lack of attention they get from the outside agency. Project managers should expect the same level of support and responsiveness from their public relations partners as they would expect from vendors, contractors, etc.—and budget accordingly.
  3. Measure results, not just costs. If you’re trying to cut costs for an external project, look at the value of what you’ve received in terms of work completed when you try to measure the success of the process. What’s the cost per hour if you continue outsourcing? What would it have cost if your company had hired full-time employees?

Work With Your External Vendors

  1. Communicate proactively with vendors. This is another area where companies often fail to budget time and resources effectively—even if hourly billing rates are disclosed upon request, many companies don’t take advantage of them because they lack experience dealing with service providers. The result is that they get less value for their money than they could have because too much work has been sent out to be done by contractors who aren’t necessarily familiar with the company’s objectives.
  2. Use internal resources. This is a no-brainer for some reason, even though it should be obvious to most project managers that their teams can do a lot of work without having to spend money on outside help. Just make sure everyone knows they have a vested interest in seeing results delivered on budget and on time—and you’ll get great support from your staff, who will feel more invested in the end product if they had more input into its development.