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Achieving effective monitoring and evaluation communication

Communication has been understood to be a cumbersome process and if not handled well, it will render all efforts in the M&E of projects ineffective. Indeed, the lack of effective communication has been suggested by several studies as a major challenge in the M&E of projects (Mugambi & Kanda, 2013). Hence, content or information being transmitted and the relationship between stakeholders are critical and must be managed well. Windapo, Odediran & Akintona (2015) argue that to achieve project success, the relationship between the project manager and other stakeholders is significant and must be enhanced through effective communication.

Mugambi and Kanda (2013) stressed that for communication to be effective and to significantly influence the M&E of projects, the communicator, that is, the project manager or leader in most cases, must be knowledgeable and must possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills. In that case, information to be transmitted will be sufficiently encoded before engaging any communication for proper understanding by all other stakeholders. Communication is a two-way process where information emanating from the project manager is received by all other stakeholders; hence the need for good listening skills by the recipients of the information. This, however, must be done through appropriate channels of communication.

Communication is effective when received in its right form and context and acted upon accordingly and feedback is communicated at the right time. Receipt of information in its right form and context is achieved through proper communication channels. In project M&E, the most common channel of communication is the form that takes the face-to-face approach where one visits the project site and gives verbal instructions or deliver it in a written form in the site instruction book. The face-to-face form can also be seen during site meetings where

Aspects of communication in monitoring 101 all stakeholders are present and project information is shared with appropriate feedback given. At site meetings, communication in the form of progress report and works programme (computer-aided output) is received from contractors. In some situations, before the site meeting, this communication (progress report and works programme) is sent through the Internet to the appropriate stakeholders by the project manager. Meeting invitations and previous meetings’ minutes emanating from the project manager are also transmitted through the Internet with the help of computers.

Norouzi et al. (2015) posit that the effectiveness and the right use of communication media contribute to the delivery of information at the right time, form and context, hence effective communication. Access to project information by stakeholders and parties is important in promoting effective communication. However, care must be taken to ensure the right information is given to the right persons or stakeholders to avoid all ambiguity and distortions. The timeliness, accuracy and completeness of the release of information are critical (Murray et al., 2000). Stage information indicates whether the project is on track and needs to proceed or necessary revisions are required before moving on to the next stage of the project. Such stage information ensures that projects are delivered on schedule (Njama, 2015). Murray et al. (2000) in a study to identify project communication variables through a case of the USA and the UK construction industries’ perceptions stressed the level of understanding of information communicated as well as barriers to and procedures for the communication of project information. The overarching communication barriers must be a critical factor impeding effective communication, hence the need to eliminate or reduce these to the barest minimum. Existing formally defined procedures outlining the scope and method of communication will serve as a guide for effective communication. Questions about how communication has been done in the past and what challenges existed will ensure the right procedures and methods are adopted for effective project-based communication.

Perumal and Abu Bakar (2011) argue strongly for the need to standardize documents for communication. This in their view will encourage effective communication among stakeholders in the construction industry. Proper communication structures will also serve as a panacea to communication lapses in M&.E (Perumal &. Abu Bakar, 2011). There is a need to establish appropriate levels of communication. However, care must be taken to ensure that these communication structures do not create barriers to information flow. Communication is understood within the environment or setting in which it occurs (Otter & Emmitt, 2008). The implication is that official communication should be communicated within the appropriate environment to receive the right attention. Finally, the reporting system adopted for the M&E process will significantly influence the communication process. Projects fail for many reasons and one significant reason is ineffective project reporting systems (KPMG, 2014).

Communication in the construction industry is largely traditional where it is human or people-centred, that is, the face-to-face approach. Adoption of technology in the M&.E of the construction projects has become topical. BIM,

for example, has been described by Goh, Goh, Toh and Peniel Aug (2014) as an M&E tool that provides a solution to the communication problems in the management of projects. Other advanced technologies such as the geographical information systems (GIS) and computer-mediated communication significantly improve communication among parties (Роки & Arditi, 2006) and the management of project information. Communication is sent swiftly at the press of a button and delivered to one or many recipients, making the delivery of the communication and feedback mechanisms fast and efficient. It is therefore necessary to adopt technologies such as BIM to enhance communication to deliver the desired results of every M&E.

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