The communication plan for project management

communication plan

Successful projects are based on effective communication. This is why a communication plan is so important.

The level of quality with which one communicates during the life cycle of a project can make the difference between success and failure.

According to the Project Management Institute – PMI, high performance organizations, ie those organizations that have completed at least 80% of the projects on time and in the budget, had in act communication plans that are at least twice as effective as their counterparts who achieve lower performance.

Do you still have doubts about the importance of a good communication plan in managing a project?

What is a project’s communication plan?

The project communication plan is a simple tool that allows you to communicate effectively about a project with the client, the team and other stakeholders.

The plan establishes clear guidelines on how information will be shared. It also establishes who is responsible and how everyone is connected to project communication.

The communication plan of the project also determines who will receive the communication, how, when and how often the information should be transmitted.

If we wanted to indicate a reference model for a project communication plan, we would have to include:

  • The purpose or goals of the communication plan
  • Information on interested parties and their roles
  • The types of information that must be shared with interested parties
  • The methods used to communicate
  • The frequency with which each stakeholder would like to receive information

Why is a project communication plan important?

Poor communication contributes to the failure of the project. This shortcoming, therefore, could mean an important financial loss for the company.

A communication plan for project management will keep the project on track because:

  • Creates written documentation that the team can refer to
  • Establishes expectations about when stakeholders will receive updates
  • Increases the visibility of stakeholders in the project
  • Provides opportunities for interested parties to provide feedback, which can help the team identify problems and risks early
  • Increases productivity during meetings

Clearly, not all projects are the same and, therefore, each project’s communication plan can be considered unique. In fact, no plan will ever be identical to another.

This is one more reason why:

It is important to think well about the communication plan already during the creation of the project plan.

Large projects have different communication needs than small projects. The same applies to projects with different groups of stakeholders compared to projects with a single group. Those projects will still be different depending on whether the team works remotely or within the same building.

Projects with different goals, budgets, deadlines, resources require a tailored communication. This is an aspect to keep in mind when creating a project communication plan.

The creation of the project communication plan

In order to create an effective and complete communication plan, it is important to take the time to collect input, information and wishes from all stakeholder groups.

It is also essential to be aware that it may be necessary to make changes to the plan as the project progresses.

 Here are the 5 key steps to creating a good project communication plan

1) Plan the scope and the approach

It is important that the plan is broadly described, including the reasons for its existence and the general description of how it will be implemented within the project.

This part could be thought of as a summary section.

2) Communication goals

The Project Manager will also have to explain what he expects to achieve by following the communication plan. In fact, in every project, there are different goals.

In general, the goals should focus on the education and updating of anyone interested in the project.

3) Communication roles

It is highly unlikely that communication will come from one single person throughout the entire project. Therefore, all roles and related communication responsibilities must be clearly defined.

Here are some roles to consider:

  • Sponsor of the project
  • Project Management
  • Leadership / Management Team
  • Member of the project team

 4) Communication tools and methods

the communication plan

Which tools will be used and how a message will be delivered are aspects that will vary from project to project.

The preferred tools and methods should be those in which the receiving group will have the best chance of understanding.

Often, we make the mistake of taking into consideration only the peculiarities of those who must transmit the message. It is essential, however, to always keep the receiver in mind when developing the content of the communication and the method by which the message will be delivered.

Methods that provide opportunities for people to ask questions or provide feedback can give a real and added value to the project.

Here are some examples:

  • Meetings: Although project meetings are viewed with little enthusiasm, they are a great way to bring the team together and solve problems.
  • Project reports: Reports could include project progress, real-time control panels, risks and resources, etc.
  • E-mail: probably the most common form of project communication. Although e-mail is a useful way to keep track of conversations and decisions, it is important to encourage the team to talk, in fact it is often a more efficient method.
  • Discussion forums: discussion forums and online forums help teams collaborate and share knowledge and are especially useful for remote teams.
  • Document repositories: create a central position for project documents to ensure that everyone is working from the same sources.
  • Surveys: the surveys are a quick way to check with the team during the execution of the project and the lessons learned once the project is finished.

5) Measurement of the success of the communication plan

Given the importance of communication for a project, it is important to monitor and analyze the plan at regular intervals.

During the project life cycle it is important to see what works, what does not and if and which changes are needed.

Moreover, it is useful to ask stakeholders and the team for their contribution, and to document the findings to improve future plans.

Conclusions

It is important to remember that each project will have a different communicative impact and, therefore, a different communication management plan.

Working from a basic structure, like the one explained in this article, will help to ensure that all key components are included.

The proactive creation of the communication management plan and the action plan for communicating  at the beginning of the project will require some effort. However, this effort will be very useful for managing a project that works effectively and efficiently.

Having a project communication plan will save a lot of headaches and doubts and give the project more chances for success.

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