pmStudent Contributor George J. Newton helps you excel at planning your project communications.
The Project Communication Management Plans provide you with a guide of how you will communicate with all key project stakeholders including the client and the team. Your stakeholders are vital to your project as they provide visibility, set clear expectations of the project, help to reduce time in meetings and act as champions for your project.
Whether it’s informal communication like discussion boards and email or more formal documentation like status reports, it is important to have a plan in place that everyone is aware of. Let’s consider the What, How, Why, When and Who for creating your ultimate plan for project communication.
Step One: What Are You Communicating?
The first step in creating an effective communication plan is to work out the team’s communication needs and ensure that they are all included in your plan. To do this you will need to consider the whole life cycle of the project and make sure you know what communication is appropriate at each stage.
Tailor this specifically to your project, make sure you listen to the stakeholders and discuss this with your team. Look at what work you are doing and the size of the project to create realistic expectations.
Step Two: How Are You Communicating?
Next, you need to decide what method of communication you will use. Will you have weekly update meetings, or can you make do with status reports and a project discussion board? Consider the needs of each team member and the preferences of all stakeholders. Learn your client’s expectations and preferences and tailor your communication methods to them.
Think ahead about how you will communicate any sensitive information to clients and stakeholders, it is important to have plans in place for this in advance.
Step Three: Why Are You Communicating?
Make sure you are making a purposeful plan and consider communication necessity. Set goals for each method of communication with clear guidelines of what you wish to achieve. This becomes invaluable for meetings; you can set meeting outlines and agendas to ensure they stay on track and don’t go off course.
Make sure all guidelines are clear and concise to be understood by all team members and avoid over communication. Too many notifications and messages may lead to key information being missed due to the sheer volume of information they are receiving.
Step Four: When Are You Communicating?
Set out in your plan the desired frequency of your communication for each method and have clear expectations of this from the get-go to prevent you from being inundated with status update requests. Avoid bombarding people with messages and meetings leading to people missing key information due to over-communication. In the digital age, we are susceptible to information overload, and knowing how often you will provide key information will allow team members to prioritize accordingly.
Keep the plans open to change and make contingency plans for any risks that may affect your project. Scope Creep is common and can affect timelines.
Step Five: Who Are You Communicating To?
Your answer to who has two parts, those you are communicating to and those who own the communication. In terms of the first part, you want to make sure you have identified all team members, clients, and stakeholders for the project who will need regular updates. Speak with them to find out their preferred methods of communication and tailor as much as you can. Remember that not all team members or stakeholders need to receive every form of communication.
When thinking about who owns what communication, you are looking to assign the person providing that communication to the rest of the team. This is usually a project manager but could easily be dedicated to a project analyst or other team members where appropriate. This provides accountability and can highlight potential bottlenecks.
You’ve Got This!
Follow these five steps and you will create a communication plan that is clear, has set goals and timeframes, and clear lines of accountability. When your plan is finished make sure it is visible to all project stakeholders and team members.
About George J. Newton
Business development manager George J. Newton, Academicbrits.com and Phdkingdom.com, is a writer for Nextcoursework.com who has been married for ten years. As such, he has now perfected the art of the apology.