Project Communication

Why Efficient Communication Is The Key To Successful Project Management

Personal or professional, communication is the secret of every successful relationship. While you can argue over the truth of this statement,  you can’t deny the fact that in the absence of a clear communication channel, your project’s chances of success are minimal.

According to the findings of the Project Management Institute (PMI) – those with effective communication skills get more than 70% of their projects completed on time and within budget as compared to only 40-50% projects for those with poor communication skills. The PMI also suggests that if you are a project manager, it is necessary that you use a dedicated project management software or tool to encourage effective communication with all the parties involved in a project. This includes teams, clients, stakeholders, and anyone else who is associated with the project in one way or the other.

In this article, we will take this discussion forward by exploring the various factors that prove why effective communication is the foundation of successful project management.  We have also compiled a list of methods that you can employ to improve communication in your workplace.

Let’s get started.

Reasons why efficient communication matters in an organization

Improved productivity: Effective communication implies that employees have all the information they need to complete their jobs. It ensures that no important information is missed or misinterpreted during the whole project management process. With all the important details at hand, employees approach their tasks with better focus and get them completed without wasting any time. In this way, effective communication makes employees more productive around work.

Greater clarity: Confusing guidelines and unclear instructions are the biggest productivity killers. In project management, it is important that employees, managers, and clients have a clear idea about the roles and responsibilities. This is where effective communications prove most helpful. With good communication, everyone gets clarity about what they need to do and how they should do it. This way, everyone knows what is expected of them and everything runs smoothly from start to finish.

Increased participation: When you’re a project manager, you want everyone on your team to participate and perform as productively as possible. But that’s not possible unless you start communicating with your team members. With effective communication, you will be able to increase engagement among employees without any additional efforts. Just let everyone participate in the discussion and they will get more enthusiastic about their workplace.

Easier problem-solving: Managing a project involves all sorts of challenges. In order to face these challenges, effective communication is necessary. It helps teams to identify and resolve potential issues while they are still dormant, thereby keeping everyone on track and allowing them to complete every task or project as a team.

Tips to ensure better communication in project management

Encourage interaction outside the office: This is certainly one of the best ways to get people to communicate and work together without conflicts. Project managers often expect each member of their team to spend most of their time working in their offices and delivering results. But it’s not the ideal approach. In a team, employees should be able to understand each other’s value and align their interests for the best results. To make it happen, project managers need to encourage their employees to interact outside the office premises. Planning an impromptu office trip or organizing some fun team building activities is a great way for everyone to be together outside of work.

Ask for honest feedback: Communication is not just about getting projects delivered, but it also focuses on improving the overall performance and productivity of the team. Asking employees to share constructive feedback on each other’s performance is one way to achieve it. Encouraging team members to communicate their thoughts provides them with the opportunity to identify key areas of improvement in their work process. It shows them ways to be better at their job and bring the best outcome with minimum effort.

Use a collaboration app or tool: Finding an online collaboration software or app is always a great way to encourage better communication in a workplace. A project management software or team collaboration tool offers businesses the opportunity to personalize their communication with advanced features and functionalities. Discussion boards, chats, announcements, reporting, etc are some of the advanced features through which a collaboration app or tool simplifies workplace communication.

Applozic is a communication suite for enterprises to simplify their team communication. It has all the required features and unlike 3rd party software products, Applozic can be hosted on your own servers for more control and security of data.

Conclusion

If teams are a crucial part of an organization, communication is the process that helps them to facilitate and attain maximum efficiency. Put the above tips into practice to maintain effective communication and create opportunities for everyone to be heard in the workplace.

If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it with your coworkers and clients. Help them learn why communication is the key to successful project management and how they can improve it.

About the author:

Vartika KashyapVartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2017. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

 


tech talks at applozic

Understanding Word Embeddings – Tech Talks at Applozic

Understanding how different words are related based on the context they are used is an easy task for us humans. If we take an example of articles then we read a lot of articles related to different topics. In almost all the articles where an author is trying to teach you a new concept then the author will try to use the examples which are already known to you, to teach you any new concept. In a similar way computer also needs a way where they can learn about a topic and where they can understand how different words are related.

Let me begin with the concept of language, these amazing different languages we have. We use that to communicate with each other and share different ideas.

But how do we explain a language in a better way? Some time back I was reading this book “Sapiens”, where the author goes back and questions a lot of things and in that, his explanation of language was good:

We can connect a limited number of sounds and signs to produce an infinite number of sentences, each with a distinct meaning.
We can thereby ingest, store and communicate a prodigious amount of information about the surrounding world.

This is all possible because of languages. As he writes we can produce an infinite number of sentences, that means words will have different meanings based on the context used. So rather than having a fixed definition for each word, we’ll be defining them based on their context.

That’s the reason in programming we don’t use WordNet to find out the relationship between different words. WordNet is a library where you can get a collection of synonym sets for each word. Also, it contains hypernyms (‘is a’) relationships. It misses the nuance, for example, the word ‘good’ has a lot of synonym sets but the context is missing. One more problem with WordNet is that it requires human labor to create and update.

We need a way where we can compare the word similarity. To compare it we need to represent the words in the form of vectors. We can represent them in the form of discrete symbols. Representing them as one-hot vectors like:

hotel = [0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0]

 

So, the vector dimension will be equal to the total number of words in a vocabulary. Still, we can’t find the similarities between different words in this way as each word is represented differently and there is no way to compare. One way to fix that would be to use WordNet’s list of synonyms to get the similarity or what if we can add similarities in the vector itself?

The idea here is to create a dense vector for each word, chosen in such a way where it is similar to vectors of words that appear in similar context. Word2Vec is what we are going to use to create such a dense vector.

Word2Vec

Let’s say we are reading a book and our task is to learn how different words are related to each other. What we will do here is we’ll take a paragraph and we will go through each word. One word at a time, let’s call it a center word. Then we have nearby words, let’s say there are five words in one sentence and center word is the middle one then two words on the left side and two on the right are nearby words. These are also known as context words. Here we take two because we have a window of size two, it can be changed.

Here we will calculate the probability of a context word given a center word or vice versa. Based on this probability we will adjust the word vectors and try to maximize the probability. This way we will get word vectors through which we will know if any two words are similar.

Word2Vec was introduced in 2013 by Mikolov et al. at Google on efficient vector representations of words. This is the abstract of the paper:

We propose two novel model architectures for computing continuous vector representations of words from very large data sets. The quality of these representations is measured in a word similarity task, and the results are compared to the previously best performing techniques based on different types of neural networks. We observe large improvements in accuracy at much lower computational cost, i.e. it takes less than a day to learn high-quality word vectors from a 1.6 billion words data set. Furthermore, we show that these vectors provide state-of-the-art performance on our test set for measuring syntactic and semantic word similarities.

Model

Let’s go into the details. We are going to create a neural network with a single hidden layer. In input, we will pass one hot vector representing a word and in the output, we will get a probability of that word being near the center word. This is one of that neural network where the actual goal is not the output that we get, in this case, we are interested in learning from the weights of the hidden layer. Output layer is required to decrease the loss.

skip_gram_1

Figure 1: Skip-gram predicts surrounding words given the current word.

From figure 1 we can get a basic idea of different layers in the Skip-gram model. So, there were two architectures proposed: one is Skip-gram model and the other one is the Continuous Bag-of-Words model. In the case of CBOW, we predict the center word based on context words and in the case of Skip-gram, it’s opposite. Also, it’s called the bag-of-words model as the order of words in the history does not influence the projection. In this post, we will talk about Skip-gram model.

In mathematical terms, its goal is to maximize the average log probability. Let’s say if the number of training words is T then this is the representation of average log probability:

average_log_probability

average_log_probability_explanation

softmax1

softmax_equation_description

Hidden Layer

architecture_w2v

In the above neural network architecture, you can see we have three layers and in that, we already know about the input and output layer. Let’s discuss the hidden layer in above architecture.

Hidden layer in this neural network works as a look-up table. So, let’s say if we have a one-hot vector with 1000 rows as an input and the hidden layer contains 30 features which mean a matrix of 1000 rows and 30 columns. When we multiply them then the output will be the matrix row corresponding to the 1.

Also, the features in the hidden layer can be treated as hyper-parameters which you can tune it in your application. There is no restriction, so you can try different values.

The output from the hidden layer is what we call word vectors.
We update them based on the output layer’s result.

Open source projects

If you want to use some prebuilt tools to create word representation then Facebook’s fastText is one of them.
And this is Google’s implementation of Word2Vec where they used Google news data to train the model.


How Your Web Design Affects the Value of Your Online Business

In the modern digital marketplace, almost any business you can think of will have their own website. Whether it’s the bakery you love so much in the middle of town or a global corporation like Coca-Cola or Nike. Every brand, big and small, knows how important it can be to make an impact with their online presence.

The good news? Creating a website has never been easier. Content Management Systems like WordPress and endless hosting companies ensure that any organization can design and implement a website without even the slightest bit of technical know-how. The bad news is that it takes a lot more than just a dime-a-dozen site to make your business really stand out.

If you want an online presence that’s appealing enough to attract customers, deliver conversations, and even help you sell your business one day, then you need an incredible website design. Here, we’re going to take a look at just some of the ways that your website can change the value of your online business.

An Attractive Site Prompts Engagement and Conversions

From day one, your website helps your customers and investors to decide whether they want to interact or do business with you. Think of it this way. If you were looking for a place to go for a romantic meal with your other half, and you found a restaurant that was old, run-down, and packed full of outdated furniture, would you rush to book a table? Even if the food inside of that restaurant was great, you may never get a chance to find out, because many of us still do judge a book by its cover.

The same issue applies to your website. If your site looks well-organized, professionally designed and innovative, your customers will associate all those good things with your brand. They’ll assume that you’re a professional organization capable of delivering a professional experience. Something as simple as an easy-to-navigate menu, and an uncluttered design can be enough to help your customers see how effective your business really is.

On the other hand, an unattractive site makes it look as though you haven’t bothered to invest in your business. If you aren’t willing to spend money on making your business look good, why should your customers take you seriously? Most won’t, that’s why 38% of people stop engaging with a website if they think it’s unattractive.

A Great Website Paves the Way for Customer Loyalty

Speaking of making the right impression on your target audience, today’s customers want to establish a connection with their favorite brands. Your website is your first opportunity to show your market what you’re all about, and why they should be interested in connecting with you. After all, there’s more to a business than what it sells. A brand is how you show the personality of your organization and the vision that drives you towards success.

A good website can showcase the important elements of your brand, through the colors you choose, the words you pick, and the experiences you offer. It also helps you to give credibility to your claims. For instance, if you tell your customers that you’ll always put them first, but you fail to make your navigation menu easy to use, that creates a contrast that your customers will pick up on. In fact, 67% of customers say that bad customer experience is the reason why they leave a brand.

Show your customers that you’re authentic, caring, and intuitive with your website design, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty. That instantly improves the value of your online business by giving you long-term clients, and better revenue to show off to a potential business buyer.

Effective Design Makes You Easier to Find

Great website design isn’t just about giving your online presence more aesthetic appeal. It also gives you the tools you need to implement backend solutions that earn the attention of search engines, and eventually customers. A great designer can implement state-of-the-art SEO strategies, complete with meta descriptions, keywords, and other key components, that improve your chances of ranking higher on the search results for certain phrases.

Whether you’re planning on selling your company, or you simply want to make sure that you keep customers coming back to your website, a platform with good SEO gives you the opportunity to place your content and products in front of your customers where they can interact with them best.

It’s not just implementing keywords that you’ll need to think about for SEO purposes either! Bear in mind that bounce rate, or the length of time that people spend on your website before they hit the back button, can have an impact too. If someone comes to your website and thinks it looks unprofessional, or worse – shady, they’ll leave as soon as your pages start to load. On the other hand, if your site looks legitimate, you’re more likely to keep people around for a longer period.

A Good Design Gives People a Reason to Stick Around

Finally, the longer someone spends on your website, the more chance they have of making a purchase. A great website design convinces people to stay around for longer so that they can explore everything you have to offer. This can even lead to an increased rate of newsletter signups, conversions, and followers on your social media page too.

Studies show that when given fifteen minutes to consume content, around two-thirds of all customers would prefer to read something that looks attractive than something that looks plain. As human beings, we’re actively drawn to things that we like the look of. That means that whether you’re trying to connect with your customers or convince someone to buy your business, it all starts with having the right look.

With new innovative design factors like animations, gifs, and videos, you can even add new content elements to your website that help to build up the attractive nature of your company. While there’s more to website design than captivating your audience with shiny objects and great pictures, it helps to give them a reason to stick around.

The Bottom Line on the Value of Website Design

Ultimately, website design is the ultimate chance for you to make a powerful first impression on your audience. If you overlook the importance of a great website impact, then you’re going to end up with a serious problem, as a poorly-designed site can send your customers not only running the opposite way but also fleeing into the arms of your competitors.

At the same time, a great website design doesn’t just improve your business value by giving you more satisfied customers, it could also give you the resources you need to demand a premium when the time comes to sell your company. If your buyer can see that your well-designed website has helped you to develop a strong brand, a good reputation, and a loyal following of customers, they’ll be far more likely to pay more.


This post is written by Jock Purtle.

About the author: Jock is the founder of DigitalExits.com, and an industry leader when it comes to valuing eCommerce brands, websites, and high-growth internet companies. Over the years, he’s shared his thoughts on major publications like CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, and many more.