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Project Management - What is Project Communications Management?
Project communications management is about a project manager telling the right people the right things in the right way, and then having them act on those messages. This can be accomplished by identifying the audience for those messages, working out what people need to be told, finding the best channels to reach them and planning when to tell them. This article explores how project communication management works, together with practical suggestions to help a project deliver successfully.
A vital part of the success of any project is properly communicating to the people involved with the project. This activity is known as project communications management. In this article we'll explore what project communications management involves and the various techniques and disciplines that can improve it.
Good project communications need to be properly planned, written and distributed. This means:
- Understanding who you are communicating with
- Establishing what you need to communicate
- Deciding on the best channels to use
- Planning when to communicate
Understanding who you are going to communicate with
Every project will have various groups or audiences that it needs to send communications and messages to. The audience for your project communications might include:
- Project team - The people actually working on the project, either directly as part of the project team or in other areas on project related activities.
- Stakeholders - People with a vested interest in the outcome of your project; typical stakeholders are:
- The people that initiated your project in the first place.
- The people that are paying for your project.
- High-level managers and executives in areas affected by the project.
- Other project and program managers that could be affected by your project.
- People that can have a direct influence on the progress and outcome of your project.
- Other people in your own department.
- Impacted business areas - People that work in or interact with business areas that are impacted by your project.
- Business customers - External customers that use the products or services provided by the business.
- Third parties - Other third parties affected by your project, this could be:
- External agencies.
- External contractors or consultants.
Once you have established who the audiences are that you need to communicate with, you can develop the right types of communications to share with each group. It's also important to understand that the types of messages, methods and channels that you use will vary significantly based on your audience.
Establishing what you need to communicate
The types of messages and communications that you provide will depend on the type of project that you are running and how it is going to affect each of your audiences. Examples of the types of messages and information that you could share include:
- Impact - Letting groups and individuals know the effect that the project is going to have on them or their business area and what they can do about it.
- Benefits - Sharing the positive outcomes that the project is going to create.
- Support - Getting 'buy-in' and support from stakeholders to allow a project to be delivered.
- Reporting - Sharing information on how the project is progressing, whether there are any risks or issues and if it will meet its deadline, budget, scope and quality.
- Changes - Letting areas know about changes that the project is carrying out.
- Stakeholder management - Keeping stakeholders informed and giving them the right details to allow them to make decisions on the project.
- Feedback - Seeking feedback from various areas to help inform decisions about the project.
- Training - Providing individuals or groups with any training necessary to assist them.
- Incidents - Letting people know if the project has caused any problems or incidents and when they will be fixed.
- Other - Various other communications such as documenting and sharing actions, meetings and the like.
Creating a project communications plan
Deciding on the best channels to use
The way that you communicate messages with your audience is important and there are many channels available.
- Email - Sending an email to groups or individuals.
- SMS - Text messaging to mobile devices.
- Telephone - Calling people and updating them.
- Reporting - Sharing reports and documentation with interested parties.
- Face-to-face - Through meetings, workshops, departmental get-togethers or one-on-one conversations.
- Training - Providing training either online or in a classroom environment,
- Web and intranet - Providing project and status updates via web portals, forums, site updates or on a company intranet site.
- Newsletters - Sharing information via departmental, business-wide or customer newsletters.
Planning when to communicate
A project manager needs to carefully consider when they will communicate with their various audiences. Communicate too early and people might forget information, communicate too late and they may not have time to prepare for or react to what the project is doing. The best approach to take is normally to communicate more than once, issuing reminders on major upcoming changes. This will help to reinforce any messages in your audience.
A good project communications plan will identify all of the audiences for the project, establish what needs to be communicated to each of those audiences, how the information is going to be communicated and when the communications need to take place. This plan can then act as an overall guide to make sure that communications are shared effectively and that all areas are able to understand and act on the messages that they have been sent.
Read more of our helpful, expert guides to successfully managing a project:
Introduction to project management - The main concepts of project management
How project management can help your small business - How project management can help your small business launch new products, services and processes
The main objectives of project management - The things project management should accomplish
The project management plan - One of the most vital aspects of getting a project right
What is a project baseline? - How to baseline a project
Resource scheduling and planning - Making sure the right people do the right things at the right time
‘What If?’ scenarios - A critical part of risk and issue management
Project portfolio management - For when just managing one project isn’t enough
Communications management for projects - Getting your project messages read and acted on
The right project management software - Essential to running a project well
Get project management experience - Want to break into the field? Here are some tips and tricks
Project management training - How to find the right training course for you
Project management consulting - Learn about consulting for project management
Choosing the right specialist - Make sure you get your money’s worth
What do you think the best ways are to communicate for your project?
Good project communications rely on telling the right people the right things in the right way, and then having them act on those messages. Thinking about and planning project communications in detail makes it much easier to accomplish this and will help to deliver a more successful project.