A Good Project Communication Plan is Essential
Often, a project communication plan does not receive the necessary attention it deserves. For instance, have you ever taken a project communications plan and accepted the template without making any modifications? If that is the case, you have been missing an important opportunity. After all, a good project communication plan is essential for the success of every project.
A well-crafted project communication plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In short, you don’t have to overthink it. But what is important when considering writing an effective communication plan? For instance, make sure you know who, what, when, and how you need to communicate. In effect, this provides a blueprint for crucial interactions with project stakeholders.
Setting out clear communication expectations is essential for any project. What’s more, it ensures that everyone understands the goals and what they need to do. Ultimately, it helps to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications, which can be costly in the long run.
Project communications definitions
Sharing and communicating ideas between different parts of a project is essential for it to become successful.
The word “communication” is derived from the Latin noun communicatio, which means a sharing or imparting.1 Certainly, communication has been an essential part of life since the dawn of humanity and has evolved over time.
The Project Management Institute defines project communications management as including “the process required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information”. (PMBOK® Guide, 2000, p.117)2
Wikipedia simply states that communication involves transferring information.3
Why do you need a good communication plan?
A good project communication plan is essential and provides an effective approach to tailor information to the appropriate recipient. To make the most of your project and provide a robust understanding, communication is key. What’s more, it makes sure every party has an opportunity to contribute to the project and meet or exceed expectations.
It’s not enough to have a communication plan in place. Additionally, it needs to be communicated to all team members or stakeholders involved in the project. Doing so, will help them understand how their role fits into the big picture and what they need to do.
What to include in your project communications plan
Crafting a successful communication plan requires identifying and engaging key stakeholders, determining sending and receiving channels, and providing other relevant information.
The communication plan is a critical part of the project. Importantly, it can be used to organize the team, make sure that everyone understands what needs to happen, and keep them on track. A clear communication plan makes it easier to manage projects and can help avoid mistakes. It also helps with accountability because you know who is responsible for what tasks at any given time.
Include key stakeholders in the communication plan
Involving key stakeholders in the communication plan is essential for a successful project.
It is crucial to ensure that everybody involved understands the objectives and knows what their roles and responsibilities are. A well thought-out and planned communication plan can make sure that all involved parties are kept on track and informed about progress.
Communication is the key to a successful client relationship. Therefore, having an effective project communication strategy is essential to ensure both parties are in sync with each other at all times. A project communication plan outlines how you will communicate with the client during every step of the process, including expectations, goals, timelines, and deliverables.
This helps ensure that all stakeholders understand what is expected of them and what should be happening at any given point in time. By setting up clear communication channels from the start, you can maintain a good relationship with your client while also ensuring that everyone is on track throughout the duration of the project.
Determine who will be responsible for sending communications and include this in the plan
Sharing the project communication responsibility among multiple team members and stakeholders helps to build trust and increase efficiency.
Should the project manager be the only one sending project communications? I certainly hope not; it would make the project very challenging for everyone involved. That’s why it is desirable to involve other stakeholders to maintain transparency and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
You should make sure that a communication plan is set and everyone on the team stays updated with progress on the project. Certainly, in many cases the project manager will be the point person initiating the project communication. However, the chances of project success increase significantly when there is sharing of communication amongst the team.
Include who will receive the information in the communication plan
It is essential to understand the kind of information that is needed and when it’s necessary for various people.
Making sure the right people have access to the pertinent information at the necessary time helps make sure decisions can be made quickly. It’s important to keep in mind that overloading the team with excessive details or unnecessary information can result in their lack of motivation and engagement. Too much information can be just as bad as not enough.
- Determine which stakeholders make strategic decisions.
- Who will provide financial endorsement?
- Who will form the core project team?
- Determine the Subject Matter Experts needed for the project?
- Who are the members of the design and engineering?
- Who are the members of the procurement team?
- Who will make-up the execution and commission stakeholders?
- Consider other external and internal stakeholders?
Keep Key Project Information Visible
Always keep key project information visible and ensure that the data is always clear and up to date.
Dashboards provide a good way to always keep your key project information visible. If updated properly, this information can provide an overview of the project’s status, schedule, and budget. Including any major changes in risk.
Having a fully updated, easily accessible dashboard can be incredibly beneficial for project executives due to the quick updates it can provide. This can help the project manager avoid last-minute requests for updates.
Even with a project dashboard, you will need to tailor the information to meet the needs of your stakeholders. For instance, it may be helpful to provide a summary of tasks or projects when talking to project executives. They need less detail, which saves time in communication. Alternatively, the facilities team would be interested on gathering data that is essential to their function. Sometimes, they are more invested in speaking directly with the project manager to understand the project’s details.
Different Methods of Communication
People can use a lot of different methods to communicate. As technology has advanced, so too has our ability to communicate with each other in various ways. We now have access to a variety of communication tools such as emails, text messages and social media platforms that enable us to share ideas and opinions across vast distances.
The project team must choose the most appropriate form of communication for the recipient and the message.
Email versus face-to-face conversation
The Internet provides us with remarkable tools to communicate with people across the globe, but face-to-face interaction continues to remain unparalleled. There is no better way to exchange ideas, build relationships and really get to know someone than face-face interactions. Conversely, emails, instant messages, videoconferences and phone calls can give you a basic understanding of each other but will not measure up to real conversations.
Email is a non-interactive mode of communication. This is ineffective, as there is a significant delay while waiting for the information. Alternatively, the use of highly interactive modes promote and encourage knowledge sharing.
Many companies use multinational teams with people distributed widely. In most instances, teams cannot meet face-to-face. This can make it difficult to build good working relationships. You should try to get the team together as often as possible to strengthen bonds.
- Build a virtual team rooms
- Promote turning on webcams
- Informal online forum to share information and strengthen bonds
Share Your Communication Plan
It’s important to keep all important stakeholders in the loop and provide them with necessary communication plans and updates.
Many project managers will set up communication plans for their teams which may not get shared with anyone. Start each new project team member with a communication plan and let them know how their role fits in for maximum effectiveness. They’ll thank you for your help and guidance later.
Conclusion – Good Communication Planning Is Essential
Organizations that are successful in executing their projects understand the importance of communication and make sure to communicate regularly.
A good communication plan is essential for your project. Clear communication channels can help you reach the right person at the right time. As a project manager you want to empower your team to communicate. The projects that are most successful know how to communicate.
Empower your team with the right communicate tools so they can collaborate efficiently. There are many different types of project management software tools on the market. It’s important to find the one that fits your projects communication needs.
Other Koncept blogs you may find interesting
Project Organization – Organize Your Project Team
Scope Management – Project Scope Management
Project Life Cycle – Determine Project Complexity
(1) John Durham Peters, First published: 05 June 2008, Communication: History of the Idea – Wiley Online Library
(2) Berzkalns, I. (2003). Project communication—foundation for project success. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2003—EMEA, The Hague, South Holland, The Netherlands. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
(3) Wikipedia contributors. Communication. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. May 3, 2023, 05:16 UTC. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Communication&oldid=1152930873. Accessed May 5, 2023.
(4) Rajkumar, S. (2010). Art of communication in project management. Paper presented at PMI® Research Conference: Defining the Future of Project Management, Washington, DC. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.