Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Planning project communication, part of Project Management Foundations: Communication.
A typical project starts out with a flurry of communication. The project manager talks with organizational managers. The stakeholders talk with project managers. The project managers talk to the teams. Everyone is talking about the future of the project. Then the work begins. The team breaks into smaller groups. Some parts of your team move quickly while others lag behind, so the communication starts to trickle down. This is a project submarine. Like a submarine, your project's work will mostly be below the stakeholder's water line.
The stakeholders will focus on other projects, and start to ask just for updates. The team will spend most of their time working with each other. Then your project submarine comes up and everyone gets updated. Then it resubmerges. A few weeks later, the project will emerge in a different place, and update everyone, then resubmerge. Your stakeholders will usually determine how long you can ride under the water line. Some stakeholders don't want to see the project until it's finished. Other stakeholders will want to ping your progress every day.
It's very important to know your stakeholders expectations before you begin work on your project. I once worked on a project for a telecommunications company where the stakeholder didn't even want to hear about the project until it was almost complete. He figured he was hiring us to do all the worrying. On another project, the stakeholder wanted a weekly report before 4 o'clock sharp every Friday. That's why you'll want a project communication plan. The project communication plan is how you'll communication on your project.
The plan will be different for every project. The first thing you'll want to add to your communication plan is the audience list you created earlier. Next, you'll need to keep the project submarine in mind. How much does your stakeholder need to know about the project? Who's your audience, and what do they need to know, and why? If your stakeholder requires a lot of communication, then be sure to create a lot of time creating a very detailed communication plan. If you're working with only a few stakeholders, then you could create a brief outline of your plan.
There are two different styles of communication plans. There's the stakeholder communication plan, and the even communication plan. The stakeholder communication plan focuses mostly on the who. It will be a list of your project's audience, and then a plan for how to communication with them. The even communication plan focuses mostly on the how. It will be a list of meetings, reports, and e-mail lists. Then it will describe what each one of these events will communicate. Sometimes your organization will prefer one plan over the other.
How you design your plan will depend on your own preference, and your stakeholders. If you can choose, then you'll want to create a stakeholder communication plan. These plans are usually easier to organize, and clear to follow. Event communication plans are focused on meetings, reports, and activities, so they can be cumbersome. It's difficult to spell out all of your events before the work begins. Try to imagine planning your reports, meetings, and presentations before the project even starts. The stakeholder communication plan is less likely to change.
You'll most likely have the same audience throughout your entire project. For your stakeholder communication plan, find out if your project has a stakeholder register. The stakeholder register is a list of everyone who has a stake in your project. This could be a positive or negative stake in the project, like a competitor. If you have a stakeholder register, then use this as the starting point for your stakeholder communication plan. If you don't have a stakeholder register, then just create a list of stakeholder names. The stakeholder communication plan should address four items: Which stakeholder is going to receive the communication, how are they going to receive it, what is the communication going to say, and when are they going to get it.
I just worked on a project for a school superintendant who only wanted to receive updates through text messages. She would never read e-mail, and all calls went straight to voicemail. The which stakeholder was the school superintendant. The how was a text message. The what was project updates in 160 characters or less. The when was Friday after 4:00 p.m. You should use and update your stakeholder communication plan throughout your project.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Using formal and informal means to communicate
- Prioritizing stakeholder needs
- Listening actively
- Planning project communication
- Understanding leadership language
- Writing clear and concise project reports
- Learning how and when to say "no"<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.