Project Communications Planning is a process that is continuous throughout a project. When building your initial Project Communications plan focus on the following:
Define Your Audiences - Who needs to know What, and When and How do they need to know it. Communication needs and audiences will change as the project moves forward. Plan for it.
Start from the Top and Work Your Way Down the Chain - Start your Communications with the highest levels of the organization first, then work your way down to the team members. Repeat this cycle.
Target Your Message to the Different Groups - Different groups (and sometimes individuals) may require different types of communications media (e-mail, status reports, web site, face-to-face, memo, etc.). Plan for these different types of communications vehicles up front.
Define Roles and Responsibilities - Ensure that your Project Communications Plan includes Roles and Responsibilities for key stakeholders.
Status Reports - Status Reports are a great form of Project Communication if kept short and to the point.
Repetitive Messages will be Required - The same message delivered using different mechanisms and sources will help to reinforce your message.
Anticipate Conflict - Tailor your communications to overcome Conflict before it occurs. Keep in mind that Conflict will always occur on a project. Conflict needs to be anticipated and managed continuously throughout the project.
Allow for Anonymous Feedback - Create a way for people to relay their positive and negative feedback anonymously.
Project Managers need to recognize that good communication is important because it helps to reduce conflict, increases information distribution, and helps to silence critics while reinforcing the positive aspects of your project.
I must congratulate you on your steps for communication projects. As a communication professional with lots of experience in the PR and corporate communications field, your post is excellent and complete.
You can cover suitable frequency of different types of communication; I have experienced that sometimes too frequent communication or long gap between regular communcation doesn't solve the purpose and results into confusion or loss of productivity. Just a thought!
Depending on the size of the project and the geographical dispersion of the project team, you may want to describe different media for communications and proper protocols (e-mail, instant messaging, web-based collaboration environments, etc.), protocols for communicating across time zones, and different "intensity levels" of communications.
Great blog! I have been reading and referencing a good book that contains a great deal of communication media used in virtual teams. The title is "Managing Virtual Teams Getting the Most from Wikis, Blogs, and other Collaborative Tools" by Brown, Huettner and James-Tanny. Your readers may benefit from the information in this book, especially if they are managing geographically dispersed ("virtual") teams.
And don't forget to include a tool kit with the templates for each type of documents to be communicated... Too often have PMs had to re-create their slides or report formats because they lose access once a project is closed...
The stakeholder buy-in on how they want info passed on is critical as well... I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had to provide two separate briefings of identical information because different execs wanted them looking different...
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