As blood moves, it pushes air through your body to sustain life. Likewise, communication is the lifeblood of projects and organizations. Just as the heart works to distribute oxygen throughout the body, the project manager continually circulates project information from the external stakeholders to the project plan documentation, to the inner stakeholders, to the project plan. This cycle of communication and information movement is iterative and continues throughout the life of the project. Without it, stakeholders and the project team can be left wondering where things stand and what decisions have been made.
The communication plan–like the project plan–is essential parts of the project. However, when thinking of the project manager’s role in communication planning, organizations and task teams too often think solely of the documents that set up the frequency, roles, obligations, recipients, and route for which communication will be dispersed during a project. Unless you look beyond the written word and the outline prepared in the first phases of the project, you are setting yourself up for project losses.
While you need to understand who is involved in the task, it is equally important to comprehend what information is necessary and the particular level at which they have to receive it. There are some certain musts for the communication plan. The communication plan should be scalable and must prepare yourself based on the range and depth of the task. Just as you wouldn’t send out a SWAT team to catch a shoplifter, you wouldn’t prepare an elaborate communication arrange for an easy project that involves only a little group. Understanding the needs of stakeholders and developing a proper plan for communicating progress–information, successes, dangers, and changes–is paramount.
- Application of G2C, G2B, G2E, G2G, C2G, B2G and other models
- Who is placing these ‘guidelines’
- Science not rule of thumb
- Advertising Executive
- More persistence
- 240p X 400p (Vertical Rectangle) above fold: $2.50 CPM
- Good experience in customer facing roles
- Appropriate groupings of National Units
The operative term when creating the program document is “appropriate.” Be careful not to over-communicate unimportant information, otherwise, stakeholders and the task team could become overwhelmed with information and disregard relevant future information. The general rule I like to follow is to communicate information when its presence or absence will involve some direct impact on project success.
How does one identify when information will have a primary impact on the project? If something effects the scope Typically, time, cost, risk, or quality of an activity, this warrants escalating through the appropriate communication channels. It isn’t always obvious to see if something will affect the critical path without carrying out some analysis, but also for changes to pre-defined critical route activities, this is also a location that will require fast attention and communication. Information that will impact the project–either good or bad–is essential to the project stakeholders.
In a similar vein, collecting relevant information from stakeholders is important. This given information can be obtained standing up at water cooler or by more formal methods. However you gather it, once the information is received and validated, it should be analyzed to look for the impact on the project. Any changes impacting expectations or deliverables should be talked about with all stakeholders and the required paperwork up to date and circulated. Let’s dig just a little deeper in the area of expectation management.
The artwork of communicating and understanding stakeholder needs as at the top of my personal list of drivers for project success, regardless of the size of the project. Scaling the communication plan properly to match the audience is essential for ongoing project interest and buy-in. The ability to talk to individuals on various levels with various project interests is important for successful project management.
You should become intimate with the needs and history of individuals involved with your project in order to relay an appropriate message to each member of the team, be it internal or external. Different individuals on the project team and the ones on the other end of the project have specific desires and individual objectives they are interested in achieving. Keeping individuals interested in the project is all right part of the process. While the plan documents help establish some rigor in the process, take care not to become too rigid and only allow communication at selected periods.
If you see that stakeholders are needing more regular communication, perhaps this is an indicator that the program document needs to be up to date as the task is not as straightforward as once thought. For smaller scale conditions, additional levels of communication may involve in-person dialogue, whereas for larger, more geographically dispersed groups, this might involve more formal written methods.