In part one of this series, we discussed the importance of communication when managing a project, and some of the various considerations which need to be made when thinking about how to communicate with your team, clients, and stakeholders. We touched on the idea of creating a project communications plan to manage and track these considerations, and in part two we’ll discuss how to create an effective communications plan in order to accomplish this.
How to Create a Communications Plan for Your Projects
Creating a comprehensive plan for your communications doesn’t have to be complicated – start with the broader picture and distill your final plan from there. A beginning communications plan might include the following group: team (internal) communication, client (external) communication, and stakeholder (internal) communication.
From there, identify the regular types of communication that occur with each of these parties on a project: day-to-day, reporting, meetings, approvals, changes, escalations, follow-up, etc.
Plot these types of communication underneath each group.
Identify Groups Involved in Each Communication Type
Go through each type of communication and identify the who involved in each – who to communicate with for approvals/changes, who to escalate with, who is involved in regular meetings and reports, who should receive regular follow up, and so on. The point of this is to identify the parties you need to consult for any given situation and remove the need for you to ruminate over which person you should go to in order to accomplish x task. Further, it helps eliminate the “fuzz” involved with including those who are tangentially involved, who could be spending their time more efficiently elsewhere.
Essentially, this exercise ensures that the information you bring to the table is both applicable and actionable to the parties receiving it – one method to implement here - construct your e-mail lists or chat groups for these groups of people from this exercise to keep yourself organized as you go.
Determine Your Method of Communication for Each Group
Different groups pose different requirements for communication medium – on projects, it’s likely you’ll want the flows of information to be on record so they can be archived after the project ends for later review in case the need arises. For this reason, formal updates and communications which directly affect the course and progress of the project should be constrained to your designated primary communication method. While that is often email, it could be leaving comments on your Viewpath project task with the updates.
That doesn’t mean that all projects communications need to be restricted to a single communication method; just the cliffnotes, like your meeting summaries and notes, and general updates on project progress. One of the best things to do is to consult your stakeholders to find out what medium is most preferred for them.
Keep security of the project in mind when brainstorming your project communication mediums and restrict sensitive information flows to secured channels.
You can monitor the effectiveness of your communications plan and tweak it to your liking over time, developing the plan that yields the best results. Some ideas of things to measure include costs involved (are costs saved by avoiding an in-person meeting, for example), time until resolution/decision, general satisfaction of clients/stakeholders, and more. Keeping an eye on these will tell you if your efforts to formalize a communications plan have been effective. You can leverage some of the tools in available project management software to keep tabs on things if you so wish.
Developing a Communications Plan for your projects can transform your interactions with your team, clients, and stakeholders alike. It can help mitigate some of the common downfalls a project can experience from ineffective communication (especially in a remote-working world) and make your interactions that much more professional all the while. If you haven’t considered adopting a communications plan before, there is no better time than now.