Communications – Lessons Learned

Below is a list of lessons learned relating to Communications, taken from a selection of recently completed programmes and projects across the NICS.

Issue 1 - A key supplier establishing a single technical point of contact was hugely positive. After engaging with several technical experts, the supplier assigned a digital architect as a single point of contact.

Recommendation 1 - There needs to be a single point of contact within each supplier to progress matters at an appropriate level.

Issue 2 - The project team and key supplier met regularly with critical suppliers who had the potential to delay the manufacturing program, ensuring that project timescales were understood, and actions taken to prevent delays.

Recommendation 2 - Maintaining regular contact with key stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Issue 3 - Reviewing the effectiveness of monthly meetings and developing good practice as the project progressed.

Recommendation 3 - Ensure communications are clear, concise and effective throughout the project.

Issue 4 - Co-location of project team, product owners and consultants led to a positive and effective working relationship which aided improved communication and decision making.

Recommendation 4 - Maintain open lines of communication to ensure problem-solving and team management is as seamless and efficient as possible.

Issue 5 - The relationship between the supplier and the Project has become strained over misunderstandings and differing ways of working. The Project team were given only last-minute advice that meant delivery would not be possible.

Recommendation 5 - A revised communication plan, with key messages tailored for each stakeholder group should be put in place and integrated with overall plan.

Issue 6 - A positive lessons learned was the benefit of having consultants sharing an office with the in-house team.

Recommendation 6 - This enabled ad-hoc discussions to flow easily and enhanced the transfer of skills process. Future projects that intend to see a transfer of skills between consultants and in-house staff should carefully consider the benefits that sharing office space brings.

Issue 7 - Implementation of the Scheme has required a significant amount of collaboration from the outset. The Department set up an oversight group with representation from a wide range of stakeholders, establishing good working relationships between Departments and ALBs.

Recommendation 7 - Working relationships have been excellent since the group was established and these have continued through the implementation phase. Going forward, it is important that regular engagement through meetings with the key delivery partners continues.

Issue 8 – Elected representatives circulated misinformation on social media regarding elements of the initiative, which contributed to huge spikes in call volumes.

Recommendation 8 - A letter to local councilors and MLAs at the outset to provide initiative clarity.

Issue 9 - In order to facilitate the resumption of BAU operations, significant construction and digital modernisation works were taken forward at a considerably accelerated pace. This has positively illustrated the benefit of coordinating disruptive work with colleagues whose work is affected by the disruption.

Recommendation 9 - Moving forward we will continue to ensure there is good communication and collaboration between colleagues.

Industry guidance/ further reading

APM, APM Body of Knowledge, 7th edition (2019), chapter 3.

Commercial Delivery Group’s Programme and Project Management hub: Programme and project management communication | Department of Finance (, This includes links to further reading.

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