A project manager has hundreds of responsibilities to fulfill every day until the project finally comes to an end. One such responsibility is communication. Effective and efficient communication ensures that your team is on the same page throughout the project. Also, it ensures transparency and suitable division of roles.
Every experienced project manager knows that without a project communication management plan, he cannot make sure that the project is headed in the right direction. A communication management plan helps identify the communication networks, individuals, and flow of information. With a communication management plan, the team stays connected with stakeholders and clients all the time. It allows stakeholders and clients to give feedback and so, the team can incorporate desired changes timely, enhancing the productivity of the project.
Now that you know what a project communication management plan is and the significant role it plays in any kind of project, here’s a step-by-step guide to writing down your effective communication management plan:
1. Write Down Your Communication Goals and Objectives
The very first thing you need to do to create an effective communication plan is to list down your communication goals if you do not know why and what you want to achieve through communication, you might not be able to realize the importance of your communication management plan.
Here are some major communication goals. Read through and crosscheck with your goals, if you have listed any.
Sharing information is the first and foremost goal of communication. You need to share with your team and stakeholders when a certain project activity is completed when it is near the due date, and if there are any changes in the process. Also, you must communicate the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
Information sharing and open communication ensure the transparency of the project. It highly adds to the quality of the project. Also, it makes your organization credible and trustworthy.
Update Regarding Project Status
From time to time, you need to convey the status of your project. To make an update, you need to have a significant communication channel. Your communication management plan makes sure that the project status is updated timely.
Ask for a Review
As you hold a meeting with your team members, you need to ask for reviews. This makes room for improvements.
Gathering feedback is another important goal of the communication management plan. Your plan must have a proper mechanism of gathering and analyzing the feedback. It makes sure the changes are done at the right time without wasting time or resources.
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Ensure Objectives and Deliverables
Last but not least, a project communication management plan ensures that your project objectives are achieved, and deliverables are transferred on time to the concerned audience.
2. Choose the Plan Format
As you are going to create a communication management plan, you cannot just write it down on a piece of paper. You need to share the plan with concerned individuals, and so, it has to be in a formal format.
Here are some basic formats to consider:
A Word Document
A word document allows you to write down your plan as well as create tables and charts. This is one of the traditional ways of creating a communication management plan. It offers enough room for creativity to make your plan look organized and well-assembled.
A spreadsheet is another great way to craft a communication management plan. The good thing about the spreadsheet is that you can designate a column for feedback you generate from every communication activity. This helps you keep an eye on the problems you run into during communication.
A Visual Plan – Flowchart or Timeline
The best option, however, is creating a visual plan. Choose a flowchart or timeline template. It can mention all your preferences against the deliverables, including purpose, frequency, mode, and audience.
3. Identify Stakeholders and Their Communication Requirements
Once you have chosen the format, you need to identify your stakeholders and their communication requirements. It is one of the most important steps of your communication management plan as it explains who needs to know what.
Who are the Stakeholders?
Stakeholders mean everyone who is directly or indirectly linked to the project. Listing down your stakeholders allows you to build a strong communication network. Later, you can categorize your stakeholders as per project needs and preferences. Usually, stakeholders include the following individuals:
- Project Team
What are the communication requirements?
Communication requirements include information that needs to be delivered to specific stakeholders. For instance, you need to tell the project team, shareholders, and clients regarding the project status update. But, you need to explain the technical details and processes to your project team only. This way, you can identify communication requirements for different stakeholders.
Also, you must look into the specific communication requirements that some stakeholders have specially requested for if any.
4. Select Efficient Mediums of Communication
Mediums you select for communication play an important role in how fast the communication takes place. Therefore, you must pick the mediums that deliver the information efficiently. Here are some common mediums that project managers usually use:
- Conference Call
- Team Meetings
- In-Person Meetings
- Collaboration Apps
- Status Reports and Summaries
Factors to Consider
When you are choosing your mediums, there are some important factors to consider, such as:
- Speed of the medium and connection it uses
- Availability and preferences of the stakeholders
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5. Decide Frequency of Communication
Frequency of communication means how often communication takes place. Well, the frequency largely depends on the deliverable.
There is some information that needs to be shared and delivered daily. For instance, each project team member should email regarding the progress daily. On the other hand, some information such as project status meetings, design reviews, and kickoff meetings rarely occur or are a one-time thing. Deciding the frequency helps you prepare an easy and flexible project schedule.
6. Identify Your Audience or Participants
Audience and participants also vary from activity to activity. All the stakeholders need not attend every meeting or take part in every communication process. Therefore, as you list down your project communication activities such as in-house meetings, project updates, conducting surveys, gathering feedback, etc., you need to identify who will take part in it.
For instance, the audience for an in-house weekly meeting includes your team members only as you might want to share and explore the technicalities. On the other hand, you need to conduct monthly meetings that include team members and other project stakeholders. Thus, your audience will be widened.
7. Find Out Communication Constraints and Respective Solutions
As you prepare your communication management plan, there must appear different constraints and risks. The best time to address constraints is while you formulate your plan. Once the plan is completely designed, it becomes difficult to come over the constraints and implement the respective solutions.
Some common communication constraints include:
- Inadequate resources
- Limited time
- Limited budget
You might not have enough resources, such as technological tools and connections, to hold weekly meetings. If some team members work remotely, there might be some physical constraints or a slow internet connection. It is important to allocate proper time and budget to handle communication processes effectively.
8. Organize Your Communication Management Plan
Lastly, you need to organize your communication management plan. Now that you have chosen a format and decided on everything else, it is time to pick the format and enter communication activities.
As you enter the activities and deliverables, you need to mention the respective goal, frequency, medium, and audience against each activity. Each activity comes with a different entry, so make sure you create your plan carefully. It is going to act as your communication guide.
Once you are done, it is time to go through your project communication plan again, edit it, and make any important changes. Now that you have the final plan, share it with concerned parties, and you are good to go!
It is not difficult to bring together a great project communication management plan. However, it might take some time to find the most efficient communication mediums, set the frequency, and think of solutions to the constraints. That’s why a project communication management plan is one of the initial project documents that need to be created.
It offers a headway to a flexible yet effective communication. A communication management plan complements your project timeline as it ensures the efficiency of deliverables. And, that’s all you need to complete a project timely and successfully.