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Course Title
Communicate or Die! Effective Communications in Business and Projects


All too often miscommunication between the business and the IT team is the reason a project fails. As projects increasingly span organizational boundaries, borders and cultures, the need for common understanding among participants (all with varied backgrounds and areas of expertise) is critical and frequently difficult to achieve.

This course is designed for all stakeholders and addresses the practical steps needed to achieve common project understanding. It provides the foundation for successfully navigating the project life cycle.

Participants involved with PMI and the PMP® certification program are awarded 14 PDUs. Total Systems Education's Global R.E.P. number is 1270. For business analysts, Total Systems Education is an endorsed education provider of IIBA with an EEP Code of 112.


  • Assess their own communications strengths (and how to capitalize on them) and weaknesses (and what to do about them).
  • Create a toolbox for effective communications and eliminate wasteful speaking.
  • Identify and avoid misunderstandings that would have to be fixed (more expensively) later.
  • Maximize results by learning to listen effectively.
  • Identify and resolve the common communications breakdowns and barriers in technology projects.
  • Handle changing communications needs throughout the system development life-cycle, and save effort, time and money.
  • Run and participate in meetings and workshops with different project stakeholders, to build a common understanding of project requirements and manage expectations.
  • Decode cultures (both organizational and national) and get the job done across borders and boundaries.
  • Build teams that work together effectively and achieve desired results.


Introduction and Course Objectives

Self-Assessment Checklist

Where Communications Breakdowns Occur and Why



Setting Expectations for Communications

Across Organizational Boundaries

(Task force – Cross Functional Teams)

Across Cultural Boundaries (International Teams)

Outsourced Projects

Across Dispersed Teams (Virtual Teams)

Tools and Techniques for Avoiding Breakdowns

The Communications Pyramid

The Matterhorn of Masterful Listening

Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback

Conversation Types

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

Building Global Results

Communications Throughout the Project Lifecycle: What can go Wrong, and How to Avoid it!

Project Life Cycle Models

Initiation Phase

Identifying key participants and their communications needs

Defining the vision and objectives of the project (and getting meaningful buy-in)

Requirements and Analysis Phases

Data Gathering Techniques



Analysis Tools

Use Cases

Cross-functional Process Maps

Business Domain Model

The Plan for Testing and Quality Assurance (QA)

Project Closeout

Maintenance and Support (Help Desk Issues)

Creating your Project Communications Strategy

Identifying Key Interactions

Developing the Plan

Using the Stakeholder Matrix

Applying the Tools

Communicating with the Stakeholders

The Business

IT Team

Project Team

Cross-functional Partners

Virtual Team

External Partners

Outsourced Vendors

Additional Groups and Individuals

Conclusion, Critique and Comments

Next Steps



Method of Instruction

A mixture of lecture, discussion, hands-on exercises, team role-playing and self-assessment tools are employed. This is a true workshop! Participants don’t just hear about effective communications and cost-savings techniques – they practice them. Course workbook, job aids and checklists are also provided for later use.


Participation in class discussions and exercises; completion of skill practices; participation in group exercises during class is expected.