How to Create a Project Communication Plan
August 6, 2019

How to Create a Project Communication Plan?

By Brian McHale

Communication is vital to the success of your project. In order to successfully collaborate with different stakeholders, you (as the project manager) have to make sure everyone is on the same page – all the time.

However, projects can also be incredibly hectic; there tasks to complete and changes to approve. It’s impossible to make it up as you go along.

And that’s why you should create a project communication plan. 80% of high-performing organizations have one, and it facilitates their high project success rate.

In this post, we’ll show you how to create a project communication plan, as well as project management communication plan examples to help you make sure everyone’s in the loop.

What Is a Project Communication Plan?

A project communication plan is a document vital to the success of every project, especially if you have to communicate with different stakeholders.

For example, let’s say you were working on an IT project. You’d have to communicate changes and progress to your:

  • Team
  • Top management
  • Clients
  • Vendors and independent contractors.

Project communication management helps you keep everyone in the loop by creating a plan on how, when, and what you’ll communicate to different stakeholders.

For example, your plan may stipulate that you should notify clients only of important changes, your top management of weekly progress, and your team of current tasks and progress every day.

Additionally, project communication management will help you:

  • Establish roles and responsibilities
  • Outline communication processes
  • Get stakeholder approval
  • Get feedback.

When you’ve established and implemented a good communication plan, you’ll find avoiding problems later on in the project life simple.

Project Life Cycle

Source: Project Management Institute

Additionally, good communication improves job satisfaction and increases retention rates. Having a plan will help you get rid of a headache or two.

After all, you’ve got a plan. All you need to do is stick to it, and keep your focus on the things that truly matter.

How to Create a Project Communication Plan

While it may sound daunting, creating a project communication plan is quite simple.

You can follow our project communication plan checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything:

1. Outline Project Communication Plan Objectives

Before you start creating your plan, you need to know what you want to achieve with it.

For example, you may want to improve stakeholder approval. You may also want to improve the collaboration on your team.

You can choose as many objectives as appropriate but it’s important that you do choose them. They will guide your strategy.

Project Communication Plan Example

Source: The Digital Project Manager

2. Identify Communication Requirements and Preferences

When you’ve outlined your project communication plan objectives, it’s time to think about the prerequisites for achieving them.

To put it simply: your second step should be understanding who needs which information:

  • Team members may need real-time information on everything related to the project
  • Clients may need monthly progress reports
  • Top management may need weekly progress reports.

It all depends on stakeholder level of engagement in your organization.

However, you can determine it by responding to the 5 W’s and 1 H:

  • Who needs to be communicated to
  • What needs to be communicated (e.g. the graphic design department needs to get information on audience research, the product department on usage, etc.)
  • When the information should be communicated
  • Where it should be communicated
  • Why the communication of the information is important (e.g. for obtaining stakeholder approval, for improving team performance)
  • How the information should be communicated (e.g. in a meeting, through a tool).

The 5 Ws and 1 H
Source: Project Management Institute

Ideally, you’ll have a project communication management tool at hand that you can use to keep everyone in the loop.

If you’re using Office 365 for project management, it comes with plenty of side-tools you can use to share information with not only your team, but with external stakeholders, as well.

However, you should ascertain whether all the stakeholders know how to use the tool, and are comfortable with that mode of communication.

  • Are they already used to receiving information through the tool?
  • Is there a communication process you have been following?

 

Different stakeholders’ preferred modes of communication

Project Communication Plan Example 2

 

Source: The Digital Project Manager

Additionally, you may need to manage both synchronous and asynchronous communication:

  • For example, you may work with a remote team that lives and works in different parts of the world. If you need to organize a call with them, you should be mindful of time zones
  • However, scheduling a call with a client may not be necessary if you can communicate with them asynchronously through email or status reports.

Finally, be mindful of your communication frequency.

You don’t want to inundate your team or other stakeholders with numerous, uncalled-for emails. They may develop a habit of ignoring or skimming over them.

Types of communication

Project Communication Plan Example 3

Source: The Digital Project Manager

Make sure you take a look at historical data to understand which modes of communication have worked well in the past.

3. Make a Project Management Communication Plan

Finally, it’s time to create your project management communication plan.

Having obtained all the information on your stakeholders and the requirements of the project, you can structure it as a document to reference.

However, make sure you’re also tracking the success of your project management communication plan so you can tweak and optimize it in the future.

The following is a simple project management communication plan example:

Project Communications Plan

Source: Template.net

This example clearly summarizes:

  • The type of communication
  • Medium
  • Delivery date
  • Frequency of your communiques.

While it may seem bare-boned, it stems from the previous documents in which you’ve researched and defined preferred and necessary modes and types of communication for different stakeholders.

Your end result – your actual project management communication plan – should be simple, and a direct result of your previous research.

Best Practices: Project Change Management

If there are changes stipulated in the project charter, your communication plan should also reflect your change management process.

For example, you may be developing an app for an external client.

What happens if you or they need to make a change to the project?

  • Who should you communicate these changes to?
  • When should you communicate changes?
  • Whose approval do you need to obtain?
  • In what format should the changes be communicated?

Consider this communications and change management plan.

You can notice that this project manager has planned for common changes such as cut-over.

You can make a plan for changes commonly occurring in your projects (e.g. going over budget).

Make a list of people who need to be notified, what they should be told (pay attention to the example and how the author states “Be sure to highlight minimum disruption to the end user”), and how to communicate it.

Additionally, you can make room for change management in your standard project communication plan by noting how the change can be escalated:

3 Communication Matrix

Source: Techno.pm

This plan stipulates that the communication should be escalated to the C-suite in most cases.

Finally, you can also make a separate change management plan in which you’ll describe:

  • Nature of change
  • Type of change
  • Initial response
  • Risk to employee engagement
  • Primary owner
  • Primary involvement mechanism.

Change table

Source: Change Consultants

Later on, you can simply reference it in your communication plan, be that through a separate section titled “Possible changes” or making a note on which stakeholder should be notified of the changes.

With a communication and change management plan, you’ll have covered everything you need to succeed on your next project.

Happy managing!

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