Communication is essential for the success of a project. All involved in a project need to communicate and collaborate so that all the pieces, such as objectives, requirements, tasks, schedules, deliverables, risks, issues, and solutions fit together to form one successfully delivered project to satisfied stakeholders. Obtaining project stakeholder buy-in early on is key to project success. And one effective way to communicate and manage stakeholder expectations is through a project communication plan.
Table of contents
- What is a project management communication plan?
- Basic elements of a project communication plan
- How to create a project communication plan
- Skills for good communication
What is a project management communication plan?
A project management communication plan is a document that is part of the project management plan. It identifies the stakeholders involved in the project, the kind of information they will receive from the project manager, and the method or manner by which they will receive it throughout the course of the project. The plan also defines when each stakeholder will receive the information and how often, as well as how they can provide feedback to the project manager.
Read also: What is Stakeholder Analysis?
Basic elements of a project communication plan
Project managers need stakeholders to be constantly aware of the purpose of the project, its status and performance at any given time, and the roles and responsibilities of all involved related to the project. These are the essential information all parties need to have. Project managers can also tailor the project communication plan according to the unique needs of the project, but the basic elements are the following:
- Target audience – who are the stakeholders or recipients and what are their needs?
- Type of information – what type of information, preferred format, and how detailed should these need to be?
- Frequency – how often does communication need to take place?
- Owner – who are the responsible persons, aside from the project manager, that will do the communication?
- Channel – what type of channel or technology will the sender use?
- Effort calculation – how much time will the sender need to communicate?
- Goal – what is the objective and desired result of the communication?
- Date – when are the important communications expected?
How to create a project communication plan
The information needed to create a comprehensive project communication plan is available from the project management plan. Since the PM plan already details how the team will execute, monitor, and control the project, this information will be useful in crafting the project communication plan. However, there are other items that the project manager needs to decide on.
Choose a platform
Project managers usually create their communication plan on a document, with many starting from an internal communication plan template. The plan document itself does not need to be editable to many, but should be accessible to all for quick reference. Others can choose a spreadsheet, a graphic layout, or use an online project management tool with document management features.
Set a goal
It’s a given that the general goal is always to foster better communication. But it’s helpful to be more specific in view and in relation to the goals of the actual project itself. For example, the goal of the project communication plan can state that it aims to promote awareness of the project inside the company, especially if the project will impact a majority of the employees.
The list of stakeholders are available from the project management plan. This allows the project manager to define the target audience, preferred channel, goals, dates, and frequency. Stakeholders will have different levels of interest and influence on the project. Listing the stakeholders and interviewing them will help the project manager gauge what it will take to keep them engaged, favorable, and satisfied with the project.
It is important during the course of the project that the right people get the right information. Along with listing the right recipients, the communication plan should indicate how the project manager can communicate with them. The communication channel can be formally written such as a statement of work, informally written such as an email update, a formal verbal communication such as a steering committee meeting, or an informal verbal type such as a team lunch out. What is important is that the message gets clearly across through simple language that is direct to the point.
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Project managers should include in the plan how often they will send each type of communication out for each stakeholder. A project goes through phases and gets updated, so how much and how fast it is progressing is important to all in varying details and degrees. Likewise, when a project hits a roadblock or a bottleneck, it is important for the plan to determine escalation to avoid surprises.
Skills for good communication
Communication skills are vital to project management. It allows project managers to send information clearly to all stakeholders, provide them a voice throughout the process, and get support from them to finish the project successfully. Here are some tips to be a good communicator:
- Write clearly and concisely – use simple language that any audience can understand
- Practice verbal presentation skills – useful in running meetings with different stakeholders
- Listen actively – take time to hear and absorb what others are saying
- Welcome feedback – constructive criticism is an effective way to learn lessons from
- See other’s point of view – try to see from the point of view of another and have empathy even if you don’t always agree.
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