Last week we talked about the who, the why, and the what for communications in an insurance Web development project. Before we move on to controlling the scope of the project, here’s a few words about enforcing effective communications.

This is really important. One of the biggest killers of insurance Web development projects is project participants engaging in disruptive or divisive side conversations. That’s exactly why I said you need to use e-mail and an extranet, so EVERYONE sees ALL communications regarding the project. These projects are inherently stressful and high-profile because a lot of money is being invested. There are always nay-sayers and skeptics and those who would rather the bucks be spent elsewhere. And the sites are usually braving new ground. So it’s easy for “glass is half empty” types to take shots at derailing or disrupting the project.

Here’s the thing: Side conversations invariably lead to divisions. Even if useful and informative in their own right and not consciously intended to be disruptive, they often don’t get communicated properly to the rest of the group. It then puts the project in jeopardy because expectations will start to shift from the original project plan for some parties and not others.

So what do you do when this happens? It’s been my experience that you need to diplomatically call attention to the offending parties. Then, loop back to the original expectations set at the beginning and reiterate the importance of using the extranet and e-mail so everyone is aware of all communications. Hopefully, that will eliminate ongoing side conversations. If you have to do it a second time, you have a major problem.

You know, an insurance Web development project is a team process. Like with any good team, a common goal and cooperative spirit is needed. So good communication is a must. Disagreements are fine, but divisiveness is not.

Next week, I’ll take a break and post some pictures of Napa, California where I will be attending the The Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) 2006 Summer Conference. I hope I won’t be taking pictures of shriveled grapes caused by global warming.

My daughter’s starting to get the photography bug… I know, I’m giving away my age!!