Managing communications on a project is one of the top real-world challenges, right up there with the battle for resources. Project crises are frequently created by miscommunication or lack of communication.
Communications must be managed on many levels:
- Communicating up to Executives and the Project Steering Committee
- Communicating sideways to your management peers
- Communicating down to the project team members (note the “up”, “sideways” and “down” designations refer to the typical project hierarchy chart and are not meant to be derogatory)
- Managing the lines of communication. There are potentially n(n-1)/2 lines where n = the number of people involved in the project. For example, a project with 10 people has 45 potential lines of communication!
Knowing how to tailor your communications to each audience is an important skill. Executive communication is typically brief and bottom-line (are we on schedule and budget? Do we have critical issues? How are high-exposure risks being managed?). Communication to management peers usually will include important project metrics (schedule, budget, scope, resources, issues, risks, task plans). Communications to project team members is focused on near-term task planning and upcoming milestones.
The Communications Management Plan specifically addresses the following:
- Identifies all the stakeholders and determines their information and communications needs
- Identifies how and when the information will be distributed, including status reporting, progress measurement, and forecasting
- Identifies how stakeholders will be managed to satisfy their requirements and resolve issues. This includes defining the lines of communication and the mechanism for issue logging and visibility
- Identifies the project document repository and the folder names