A few articles ago, I shared how to create a communications plan to support change management in your project. In this article, I am going to be covering the actual project communications themselves.
Where do I start?
Start by creating your communication plan. Even a skeleton will do at the beginning – it will most likely grow as you progress in your project.
Start by following the communication plan framework and follow these questions as a guideline:
- What do I need to communicate?
- Who do I need to communicate to?
- What medium should I use?
- When should the communications be sent?
What do I need to communicate?
Tailoring your communications to specific audiences is very important. What is important to finance executives may not be what is important to sales representatives. Be prepared to create and communicate multiple versions of similar messaging to fit your audience.
Example of an initial communication framework:
- What is changing
- What are the benefits
- How it will impact them / their involvement
- What is next
Example of a follow-up communication:
- What does the change mean for them (expanding how it will impact them from the previous email)
- Re-emphasis on the benefits
- What is next, when will they hear from you again?
Note: I recommend highlighting and strengthening the benefits section because that’s where you will gain buy-in from your audience.
Who do I need to communicate to?
All stakeholders – by definition, a stakeholder is anyone who is impacted by your project (directly or indirectly). You can organize stakeholders by creating a stakeholder register.
For example, if you are making a change to the way your company purchases office supplies – you’ll want to walk through the entire process and identify all employees, suppliers, etc. touchpoints to make sure you capture the entire communication population. Anyone not included in your original stakeholder register, should be added and then updated in your communications plan.
What medium do I use?
Most formal communications in the workplace are shared via email. However, there are other creative ways you can get your message out. Such as through a town hall, team/department meeting, internal message boards, SharePoint, Yammer, etc.
Note: not all communications should be sent out or communicated by the Project Manager. Many times, it makes sense that the project sponsor or business owner communicates a change. I recommend tailoring the platforms you use to fit your project and organization.
When should I start sending communications?
I’ve never heard of anyone getting fired for over-communicating. You’ve probably heard the advice that it is always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. I prefer sharing high-level communications months before a change, then 4 – 6 weeks prior to the change, I strategically craft the messaging and increase the frequency to weekly.
Communications should not stop once the change happens or when your project goes into production. You’ll want to keep your stakeholders engaged with post-change/go-live communications. Not planning for post-implementation communications can be detrimental to the change management progress you’ve made leading up to that point. Some post-change communications can include:
- Post-go-live reminders
- Post-go-live tips
- Post-go-live best practices
Every project has a change element, and how you communicate that change and keep your stakeholders informed is very important to the success of your project and change adoption in your organization. What tips do you have for creating project communications?