Correspondence management – the more effective way to open project communications

In any business, the interchange of ideas and information related to projects is at the heart of successful collaboration. As a project proceeds, communication between the participants takes place within various technical, commercial and other management related groups.

Project correspondence is typically divided into three levels. The first level is routine, formalised correspondence, such as transmittal of forms, exchange of emails etc. The second level is those communications that, although “customised” for a particular project, are actually largely routine in nature - e.g. exchange of various documents, contracts, SLAs, etc. The third level is specific, custom communications, perhaps involving large amounts of unique, project-specific data most of it formal and even sensitive/privileged.

The top 5 management challenges for effective project correspondence management

Traditionally, due to factors such as security risks and compliance, the typical project correspondence framework has been a closed form of communication. While this provided the necessary level of security and ensured compliance with regulations, it significantly slowed down response times and posed a set of key problems when it came to seamless project execution:

  • Volume: 90% today's business correspondence is conducted electronically which frequently contains attachments like spec sheets, project plans and timelines
  • Capture: project correspondence - whether it's electronic or physical - is not easily captured or classified to the project workspace
  • Asynchronous workflow/access: managing project correspondence isn’t automated and emails are not associated with the documents they reference
  • Permissions management: most systems don't allow for assigning specific access privileges to certain correspondence, while preventing them from accessing other
  • Integration: critical electronic and physical correspondence isn’t integrated with existing back-end systems

Correspondence Management - an end-to-end solution to the rescue

The first objective of any effective correspondence management solution is to communicate the right information to the right people at the right time.

The ability to manage and track project correspondence in a secure manner, while ensuring open communication can make the difference between a project success and failure. Achieving that level of transparency and visibility within project-related correspondence, while also ensuring security and consistency, requires a dedicated solution combined with well established processes. But, before being able to select and implement the right correspondence management solution, expectations need to be clarified, and priorities addressed.

Good correspondence management practices begin with good ground rules. First, staff and management alike should agree that correspondence received and issued throughout a project lifecycle ought to be carefully managed, in a way that it can be easily tracked, followed up, and retrievable, with relevant level of security and confidentiality. Setting the common grounds for requirements and principles leading the implementation will be priority when starting to define specifications for a correspondence management system. Such principles include:

  • Ensuring that all official project correspondence is consistently captured and archived
  • Correspondence status is identified and tracked (e.g. what was sent for information/for action, what are the action owners and actions pending, etc.)
  • Correspondence can be searched and retrieved easily over time
  • Ensure system is able to secure access to sensitive or confidential correspondence items

To ensure a more viable approach to effective management of project correspondence, there are several essential features that a solution must include:

Streamlined project-correspondence lifecycle management 
Clear dashboards and structured processes ensure that information is captured, processed, shared and found more efficiently.

More transparency & less errors
Providing transparency and ensuring that all project correspondence is available to team members improves communication and collaboration, while reducing errors. A flexible and easy-to-manage permissions structure is a must-have capability that will ensure that the right information is available to the right people.

Scalability
Teams are no longer stationary - they are often big and globally dispersed. Therefore a scalable platform is required that will allow project communications to be shared with teams of any size right around the globe.

Secure collaboration
Ability to share project-related correspondence and documentation, manage processes and interact with other team members both inside and outside the firewall.

ProjectVault provides correspondence solutions built and tailored around OpenText Content Server. If your organisation manages large volumes of project documentation and communications within an OpenText environment, reach out to us now to find out how to do this more effectively.