Creating a communication plan, a critical component of project change management

Creating a communication plan that delivers the right messages, to the right audiences, at the right time is a critical component of your project’s change management. The plan should be a living document; a robust roadmap of your messaging throughout the project’s lifecycle. 

Every project has a change element, and taking the time and effort to create a thoughtful plan will help ensure you reach your target audiences and properly prepare them for any changes. 

Plan framework

The easiest way to start creating a plan is to start with the initial framework to answer the following questions:

  1. What do I need to communicate?
  2. Who do I need to communicate to?
  3. What medium should I use?
  4. When should the communications be sent?

Some additional points could include:

  1. Content creator (who is responsible for creating the message, email, PowerPoint presentation)
  2. Responsibility (who will deliver the message. example: sponsor, training manager, team director)
  3. Notes section

Here is how you can structure the plan’s framework with items 1 – 4 listed above. The below example includes a daily visual timeline:

Exhibit A

 CommunicationAudienceMethod of Communication15-Oct16-Oct17-Oct18-Oct19-Oct20-Oct21-Oct22-Oct23-Oct
1New Process IntroductionSupply Chain Leadership TeamFace-to-Face Meeting         
2PMO Call – New Process IntroductionSupply ChainCall/WebEx         
3Deep-Dive: New Process DiscussionArea Procurement LiaisonsCall/WebEx         
4Area Controllers Process Introduction – Focus GroupArea Finance Controllers – Focus GroupCall/WebEx         
5Area Controllers New Process CommunicationArea Finance ControllersCall/WebEx         
6Pre-UAT Briefing CallUAT TestersCall/WebEx         
7Change Email 1 – Overview of Change – Coming SoonSupply Chain/Area Controllers/Liaisons/AdminsEmail         
8Change Email 2 – Overview of Change – More on ChangeSupply Chain/Area Controllers/Liaisons/AdminsEmail         

Your plan is customizable. If a visual timeline is not appropriate for your communication plan, then replace it with a column labeled: 

  • Frequency of communication 

or 

  • Target date for distribution

That way, you can still address the roll-out schedule without the extra columns. 

Communications tracking

While having a communication plan is critical, just creating the plan doesn’t fulfill all its requirements. You’ll still need to make sure you track progress against your original set goals, like any project plan and communicate progress to your team and stakeholders.

I picked this up from a boss/mentor years ago, and it has stuck with me – BRAG status. Blue, Red, Amber, Green. The project management standard is RAG, and I have seen RAG+B in some places where B means something completely different, so use them however you choose. 

This is one way you can share progress against your plan and delays if any:

Exhibit B

BRAG Status
BRAG
CompleteRisk of DelayPotential DelayOn-time

 Exhibit C

 CommunicationAudienceMethod of Communication15-Oct16-Oct17-Oct18-Oct19-Oct

BRAG

1New Process IntroductionSupply Chain Leadership TeamFace-to-Face Meeting      
2PMO Call – New Process IntroductionSupply ChainCall/WebEx      

Communications post-go live

Just because you went live with your project, doesn’t mean the communications end there. Make sure you build in follow-up communications, pulse surveys, etc. to keep your audiences engaged and embracing the change.  Example post-go-live communications:

  1. Post-go-live reminders 
  2. Post-go-live training (a catch-all for those who missed pre-go live trainings)
  3. Post-go-live tips
  4. Post-go-live best practices
  5. Pulse survey, how are we doing?

As a reminder, the framework, plan content, and status should be updated consistently and maintained to guarantee any added requirements, stakeholders, and additional changes are addressed. 

What are some other tips you can share for creating an effective and robust communication plan?

 

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