No news is bad news

King James I of England allegedly said “No news is better than evil news” which turned into the popular quote used today of “No news is good news”. Whilst this may be true in some situations, it’s safe to say that King James I would’ve failed at project management if he truly believed that.

One of the biggest failures people make in project management is not updating people — be that stakeholders, developers, managers, or anybody for that matter. No news is not good news, no news is in fact very worrying news. Even bad news is better than no news. I’ll stop saying news now, I’m only ~100 words in but I’ve already said it 13 times and I’m starting to question if it’s even a real word anymore…

You must keep people well informed when you are running a project for everybody to be constantly on the same page so that questions are raised early on and answers can be given swiftly. If there’s likely to be a delay in release date, you need to notify stakeholders of this as soon as it becomes apparent to you. Don’t shy away behind closed doors and whip your developers until they work faster/harder to meet the expected release date — it’s mean and it doesn’t work anyway, trust me. The earlier you raise a question or problem, the earlier things can be resolved, re-estimated or re-budgeted accordingly.

Even if you have no update for people, that is your update. Next time you walk past the stakeholder’s desk or catch them as you’re both going into/leaving another meeting, let them know that the project is coming along nicely and you have nothing to report on it to them. They’ll appreciate the fact you’ve taken the time to let them know all is okay and they’ll be assured not only that the project is going well but also that you would let them know if it wasn’t.

Simply staying in touch with everybody involved even when there is nothing of significance to tell them shows that you value the project and it’s success. This works both ways too, if you remain open to others then they will become open to you. It builds trust and a good professional relationship which will help with future projects.

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