“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”– George Bernard Shaw
Project communication plans
How many times have you heard that one of the most important elements in any project is effective communication? Project management is all about two-way communications day in –day out. Sometimes we work in large organizations that have an entire staffed function-focused solely on communications. Their role is to ensure any far-reaching communications have been professionally prepared, reviewed for legal compliance, vetted for sensitivity to multiple audiences and generally tailored to deliver the precise communications either internally or externally for any given situation or circumstance. Other times we have no internal functions available to support communication preparations or delivery so we as project managers must often identify a fellow team member to address this to or merely do it all ourselves.
With your projects, you want to ensure that your communications are meaningful, consistent and timely. One must also tailor the message based on the audience that you are meaning to engage and influence. By doing this, you are establishing the two-way channels that can allow all relevant parties to contribute in a meaningful way to the overall objectives and success of the project. Remember that people prefer and absorb information in many different ways. Keep things simple and easy to understand. If you are able, it is also a best practice to offer multiple options or channels for which to communicate your messages.
Communication plan components
For your communication plan, I typically see a template form that someone has created that captures common elements used during the communication planning and creation process. Your organization probably already has a communication plan template but if not the items listed below should get you started. I wanted to review the key elements that I have used, that you should consider including in your own project communication plan.
|Communication Type||Kick-off meetings, requirements gathering, requirements reviews, technical design reviews, project status, governance, employee, stakeholder, customer or sponsor meetings.|
|Objective of Communication||Stakeholder engagement, introductions, reviews, workshop (design/ideation), status, governance, approvals/sign-offs.|
|Medium||Face to face, webinar, e-mail, text, voice, web.|
|Frequency||Once, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly bi-monthly, quarterly, annually.|
|Dates||Days to communicate.|
|Audience||Internal or external entities, leadership, exempt, hourly staff, vendor, supplier.|
|Owner||The accountable person for creation or sending.|
|Deliverable||Description of expected output.|
|Source||Resource(s) used in preparation.|
Communicate, communicate, communicate, you always hear some people say that you cannot over-communicate when working on a project or other types of change management activity. I would say you should always err towards quality over quantity when it comes to communications. Take the time to plan out your communication strategy. Review with multiple constituents and refine as you go along based on early feedback from your audiences. Check for how your messages are resonating and tweak as needed to meet your business objectives.
Paul Kesler, PMP, CSM, SSBB, is an experienced project and program manager with industry experience in Software Publishing, Payment Solutions, Financial Services and Receivables Management industries. His experience includes leading business strategy execution, working with C-Level and Senior leaders of various business lines to meet company annual goals and objectives. Paul is comfortable leading business projects like Go To Market launches of new cloud products and leading technology implementations and integrations such as Salesforce. He is also an active member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and the Project Management Institute (Atlanta Chapter). Paul writes about change management.