Project Management/PMBOK/Communications Management
In this PMBOK area, project managers focus on making sure that stakeholders are understood in terms of their communications needs. It also involves determining what communication outputs will be exchanged over the course of the project (i.e. status updates, minutes of meetings, reports on deliverables etc.). Project managers make careful plans to outline who receives which communications, who is responsible to deliver and respond to communication content, and how and when communications will be delivered. These details are summarized in a communications plan, which is created during in the planning phase. Communications plans are then executed and monitored over the course of project implementation.
Preparing a communication plan in Project Management involves six key points, which are defining the audience, defining the requirements, building a communications schedule, finding a responsible team member for preparing and scheduling the piece of communication, defining the medium of communication, and finally preparing the content.
Defining the audience:
Defining the audience is the simplest part in building a communications plan. What needs to be done in this area is, listing the key stakeholders who need information about the course of events in the project.
Defining the requirements:
In this part, the project manager answers the question: “What do the key stakeholders want to know?” This question should be answered according to the audience’s level of technical knowledge.
Building a communications schedule:
At this point, the project manager should have the audience and requirements information. Now, it is time to answer the question: “When to do it?” A flexible schedule should be prepared and verified by the audience. The schedule must be flexible and should give response to the situations in which a meeting (or meetings) was/were missed. This plan should also be in coordination with the project development schedule.
Finding the responsible team member:
Project manager can do this on his/her own, but involving team members or executives in the communication ensures high level of commitment to the project. So, at this phase, the group who will lead the communication process is selected.
Defining the medium of communication:
Presenting the information smoothly is important – especially for stakeholders. They are not involved in the project, but they need to know what is going on. An appropriate medium should be selected at this step to ensure that the information is delivered successfully to the stakeholders.
Preparing the content:
Now that everything is defined, the project manager (or the assigned team member) should prepare the content of communication. The content must be checked by the project manager before presenting to the stakeholders. The content should include the purpose of the process, the steps involved in undertaking the process, and the roles and responsibilities of team members at the current stage of the project. Using a template to prepare the content generally speeds up this final step.
The four inputs are as follows:
- Project management plan.
- Stakeholder register.
- Enterprise environmental factors.
- Organizational process assets.
Communications requirements: Sum of the information requirements of the project stakeholders.
Communications technology: The technologies or methods used to transfer information back and forth.
Constraints: Factors that will limit the project management team's options.
Assumptions: Factors that will be considered true, real, or certain for planning purposes. (Assumptions generally involve a degree of risk and may be identified here or in the risk identification process).
There are many tools with which to use for communication. What you need to communicate will depend on what you use to send it.
Some communication tools are:
- Instant Messaging
There are many techniques in managing communication, for example, one is to “establish a communication schedule”, which plans when events happen and keep your clients up to date throughout the project. Another technique used is “managing the flow of information”, in and out of the project. Then you need to put yourself in your audiences shoes and ask yourself, what do they need to know, what do they want to hear?, and what will stop them from listening. Using the data gathered you can plan how and when to communicate the necessary information to who ever needs it.
The key to getting the best output is communicating with all the members of the team. This is also when you discuss the steps of strategy process and they have a clear understanding of what you are doing. There should be no surprises for them. This communication can be with target audience, stakeholders, management team etc. in various different forms.
The output can be in different forms such as:
- Reports like direct mail, online informational output
- To management in the form of e-mail, discussion forums
- To stakeholders in form of advertisement, public relations
At the project’s end, be sure to issue a closedown announcement/memo and give a copy to all the members of the project team as well as management folks who should be aware a particular project is complete. A proper accountability has to be set.
The report has the progress information of the project. This can be in detailed to tell about the various status part of the project. It can be put in the form of a documented detailed report.
- It can have graphs, histograms, charts of various form or tables which can show the structure of the budget and its analysis.
- The future analysis can be done also.
- If any changes or corrections has to made in the report this has to be done immediately and notify the team about the update.
- It can be mailed directly to them.In order to involve the stakeholder they should be told about the planning process, the different stages, roles and importance of these. The knowledge of all these steps are important to them in order to understand their involvement in the phase.