Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Communication Management/Communication Planning/Analyse the communication needs of each stakeholder

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Analyse the communication needs of each stakeholder

Every component and every stakeholder in your project, however a minor role s/he may play, is important. Even minor role players have the potential to come out large if they fall behind schedule, eventually affecting your critical path. Each stakeholders has to be involved in the project through a communication process. The project manager has to be proactive in making all stakeholders a successful part of the project through different form of communication informal and formal.

For each stakeholder/objectiveindetify how to fulfil the communication need. Determine what information they need to know, how often they need an update, and what the best manner is to deliver the information.

For instance:

  • all stakeholders may need an updated project status
  • The Steering Committee may need to get together for an executive briefing and to provide strategic direction every other month.
  • The Project Sponsor may need a personal briefing on a monthly basis.
  • A quarterly newsletter may need to go out to the entire organisation on a quarterly basis for informational and marketing purposes.
  • etc.

Your messages are most effective when you are aware of the recipients' different styles. For example:

  • Does your sponsor want lots of detail or only a high-level summary?
  • Does your steering committee respond more to flashy presentations or to one-page fact sheets?
  • Does your recipient read e-mail thoroughly or hear you better in a personal, face-to-face discussion?

Note: Outsourcing and new technologies have made global project teams more common. Language barriers and cultural differences between team members from different countries can lead to misunderstandings. Avoid slang or references to a specific culture in your messages, whether spoken or written. Humor can be a good icebreaker, but use it with care, because it does not always translate well across cultures.

You may also classify stakeholders according to the level of understanding.


  • Experts: People who understand exactly what it is you do—or are offering—and how you do it. They know your subject as well as you do, both the theoretical and practical aspects. There are a number of potential problems with dealing with experts. If you are not an expert yourself, they might lose interest in you and faith in your organization.
  • Specialists: They are either theoretical or technical experts in one aspect of the subject but may know little or nothing about the product or service in its entirety. They tend to focus on their areas of expertise and expect you to be as familiar with those areas as they. Like the experts, they can monopolize the meeting by focusing on esoteric details of no interest to anyone else.
  • Technicians: They know how it works, and aren’t really concerned about the theory behind it. They might not even understand all of the theory. But they do know how to use it, and, if it breaks down, fix it. Their questions are very practical. They are usually specific and they generally want and expect specific answers to them.
  • Theoreticians: They understand the theory behind it and why it works, but they are the last people to ask to fix one. In many cases, you don’t even want them operating the equipment.
  • Familiar: These people know what you are talking about in general terms. They may have some understanding of the concept, but not enough to actually use one.
  • Novice: They don’t really understand what it does, how it does it, or even how or why to use it.
  • Decision Makers: These are the people who will make the project/programme purpose decisions, actually decide if the organization should buy it or, if they are manufacturers, even make it. They are rarely either experts or technicians.

Once you know who your audience is, you can put to yourself the following questions.

  1. What are your goals and objectives for each individual stakeholder?
  2. How do you want each of them to see you?
  3. What messages do you want to send?
  4. How is each message different or the same for each stakeholder?
  5. What do you want back from them?
  6. How much time and effort will they require?

In activities that require strategic approach it may be very useful to analyzing potential stakeholder resistance.

See also[edit | edit source]

Tailor the Message to Each Audience
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