The foundation of successful project management is the ability to communicate effectively. A large majority of a project manager’s time is spent on communications throughout all project phases. Additionally, project team members and stakeholders also share in the responsibility of communicating. Because of its importance, great care and planning must be used when developing a project’s Communications Management Plan as it sets the framework for how all communications will occur, by whom, how often, and in what methods.
- Determining Stakeholder Communication Requirements
Many projects fail because project managers and teams do not properly identify or manage stakeholders. Projects may have large numbers of stakeholders all with varying influence and interest. Project managers must take great care in understanding who these stakeholders are and what their requirements are for communication throughout the project. They may only want to be informed when milestones are met; or might wish to receive phone calls instead of emails; or want weekly updates until project completion. By understanding the communication requirements of every stakeholder, the project team can ensure they keep stakeholders involved with the appropriate level of detail and in the correct format (i.e. meetings, emails, phone calls).
- Develop Guidelines for Meetings
We have all been to meetings where we sit for an hour or more and leave thinking, “I am not sure what the purpose of that meeting was but I didn’t gain anything from it”. Ineffective meetings are an unfortunate part of the business world. Every meeting should have a clear purpose and an agenda designed to meet that purpose. Project managers must make sure all meetings are structured appropriately and document these expectations in this section of the Communications Management Plan. Some guidelines include sending a detailed agenda out to all meeting participants well ahead of time, designating roles for attendees (i.e. scribe, chairperson, time keeper, etc), how meeting minutes will be published, and assigning action items.
- Develop a Communication Matrix
Project communications can become very confusing depending on the complexity of the project. A communication matrix is a valuable tool in simplifying the intricacies of project communications. The matrix should include:
- Communication type (i.e. team meetings or project status meetings)
- Objective of the communication
- Medium (email, meeting, phone call)
- Audience or attendees
- Who is responsible for the communication
- Any deliverables
- Format (to include any shared drive or web site locations where data is stored)
- Determine Communication Technologies
Often times, project teams and stakeholders are physically spread out over different areas and facilities. There is a very good chance that all of the project’s participants do not share the same technological abilities or access to the same platforms. For example, if a team publishes meeting minutes on a shared drive but others do not have access to it then it doesn’t do much good. In developing the Communications Management Plan the project manager and team must understand the technologies available to all project participants and what tools are available to communicate with them.
Instead of starting from scratch, why not use our Communications Management Plan template and tailor it to your project? This template is a good foundation for the development of your communications management plan for your project.