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Company Communications

The article in russian >>

Bichuk M.
School of IT-management
The Academy of National Economy
under the Government of the Russian Federation

Suppose a company is a man
And cash is his blood
Then communications is
his nervous system

This article presents a brief overview of the means of communication, available to present-day companies. The article is intended for heads of IT and HR departments, and for project managers working on implementing new or improving existing communications. Empirical part of this article is based on the author’s experience of leading a communications development project at a large manufacturing company with a geographically distributed infrastructure.

What is communications?

Communications in company – all types of communication, that company’s employees may use. From the prospective of incremental development in real-world Company, communications can be tentatively divided into the following two categories:

Basic communication types

Face-to-face contact is, unquestionably, the most familiar and effective communication method. At the same time, however, it is also the most expensive, since a personal meeting consumes the most valuable resource – employee time. Other related expenditures, such as travel expenses, allowances, and hotel costs, are also considerable.

Telephone communication is often convenient, but falls short in cases of utmost importance, where the parties must see each other’s faces.
E-mail is well suited for business correspondence, distributing information, and announcements.

However, what ought to be done if, for example, an issue that involves a large number of employees must be discussed? When there is an urgent necessity to conduct an important meeting or negotiations while there is a complete lack of time to devote for face-to-face contact, but the issue is of such complexity that it cannot be resolved over the phone? And what if there are physical impediments to a personal meeting, such as when the parties are on the opposite sides of the globe, or flying is not an option because of bad weather?

As such circumstances arise increasingly often, the company management comes to a realization that existing means of communication are no longer sufficient to meet all business requirements.* Decision is then made to implement, based on the business demands, one or another communication channel of a new type.

*According to research, return on investment (ROI) in companies with well-set-up communications is above 90%, while in companies without a developed communication structure - about 60%.

Advanced communication types

An internal corporate website is a unified information portal, which can provide a forum for discussions and a billboard for company leadership’s announcements and corporate news.

Corporate knowledge base, with the information about the company’s structure, operations, units, personalities, management, documents, software, corporate events, and so on, can be made accessible through this portal, in simple and comprehensible manner.

Another major advantage of an internal corporate website can be derived by integrating it with the company’s IT systems, providing access to information from bookkeeping, reporting, monitoring, employee education, and other systems.

Videoconferencing systems are subdivided into two types:

First are the corporate-level systems, which can accommodate a large number of participants simultaneously, provide top-quality video and audio, and display any documents or data from information systems.
Second are the personal systems, designed to be installed on PCs or portable devices. Main advantages of the personal systems are their low cost and installation simplicity.

Instant text messaging services are widely used as viable alternatives to e-mail and telephone communications in many companies world-wide. Being effectively free, these services have definite cost advantages over traditional telephone communications, while their superior level of interactivity (speed and convenience of exchanging messages) gives those services an edge over the e-mail communications as well.

Unfortunately, such services are frequently banned in Russian companies, as company management often seeks to blame rank-and-file employees, who “are busy with trifles on company time”, for the ill effects of poor leadership.

Sample communications development project

Implementation site
• Geographically distributed manufacturing company
• Headquartered in Moscow
• 120 branch operations in 18 regions of the country
• 15,000 employees
• Only basic communications were previously used

Project tasks
Stage I
• Creation of a corporate website
• Linking key regional operations and headquarters by a corporate videoconferencing system
Stage II
• Lunch of an instant text messaging service
• Equipping key employees’ with personal videoconferencing systems


Within the first 18 months, the first stage of the project was implemented, and the second stage was begun. Large regional operations were linked with the Moscow headquarters and to each other by a corporate videoconferencing system, making meetings possible without business trip expenses. Corporate website brought together employees from all regions with company operations. Instant text messaging service freed up telephone lines and reduced the flood of e-mails. Pilot project, with the goal of equipping each employee with a personal videoconferencing system that he can use without getting up from the workplace, has been lunched as the last stage of the project.

Factors to consider before beginning implementation

Corporate websites require continuous attention and service. An employee or a department, responsible for development and upkeep of the information, must be assigned, and must also act as the moderator for blogs, forums, and other informational resources for the company employees.

Setting up corporate-level videoconferencing systems requires substantial initial investment to acquire equipment and establish high-quality communication channels. Personal videoconferencing systems offer only low-quality audio and video transmission, and company management should be aware of this fact prior to starting implementation.

Widely available instant messaging systems (such as ICQ, Skype, and GoogleTalk) come with important limitations – they cannot be managed. All information is stored on remote servers and cannot be controlled. Using a company-owned instant text messaging server (for example, based on MS Communication Server) circumvents such limitations.


In the process of company communications development, the person responsible must pay particular attention not so much to the technical aspects of systems being implemented (type of software, brand of the server, or sort of database), as to the answers to the following questions: how is this going to be used, who will be responsible for the communications segment, how convenient will the system be for the employees, and who will update and support information sections? The above means that the human factor is the most important part of the system. It is absolutely essential that employee motivation systems are built in. The exact implementation path for your company (bringing in a systems integrator, creating your own implementation team, the amount to spend on equipment, extent of the pilot project, and so on) – is up to you. Every company is unique, and a one-fit-all solution is not realistic, but we shall point out once again that 90% of the success of such project depends on the people, and no more than 10% – on technology and information systems choices.

Copyright © 2009 Bichuk M.

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Bichuk M.
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Школа IT-менеджмента Экономического факультета АНХ, 119571, Россия, г. Москва, проспект Вернадского, д. 82 корп. 2, офис 207, тел.: +7 (495) 933-96-00, Copyright @ 2008-2009