Communications Planning - Explained
What is Communication Planning?
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Table of ContentsWhat is Communication Planning? What goes into a Communication Plan?Types of Disclosure? What is the Project Perspective of Communication? What is Organizational Perspective of Communication? What is the Channel Perspective of Communication? What is the Communication MatrixWhat is Document Control?
What is Communication Planning?
As part of the project plan, the project manager may develop a communication plan that lays out the rules and the flow of information between team members and stakeholders.
This is particularly necessary in complex projects.
The difficulty in crafting a communication plan is keeping stakeholders informed without overloading them with information that is not useful.
Some of the primary considerations include:
- Who requires information
- What type of information,
- The extent of disclosure
- Timing of Disclosure
- Means of Disclosure
- Extent to which Stakeholder input is required or accepted.
What goes into a Communication Plan?
There is no single format for a communication plan. The elements of a plan might include:
- Stakeholders and Expectations
- Communication Objectives
- Type of Communications
- Methods (Channel) of Communication
- Cadence or timing of communications
- Communicating party (who is responsible)
- Communication System or Technology and Document items – templates, formats, or documents the project must use for communicating.
Types of Disclosure?
The type of disclosure necessary can be viewed from the following perspectives:
What is the Project Perspective of Communication?
The Project perspective of communication include:
- Internal communication - The communication that takes place between project team members. Generally, this type of communication is "raw." It may involve a lot of back-and-forth discussion as plans or issues are worked out.
- External communications - The communication between project team members and the other project stakeholders. Examples include communication with internal and external customers, other projects, and the media. Generally, this type of communication is cleaned up or otherwise prepared before being presented or sent to the receiving party.
What is Organizational Perspective of Communication?
The organizational perspective of Communication is as follows:
- Vertical communication is the upward and downward communication flow that happens between different hierarchical levels of the organization. An example of upward communication is when a project team member provides the project manager with a status update of his assigned tasks. An example of downward communication is when the project manager shares the project goals with the project team.
- Horizontal communication refers to communication between people at the same organizational level. An example of horizontal communication is when project team members discuss project topics with each other.
- Diagonal communication takes place between different functional divisions of the organization. Diagonal communication has become more important as matrix and project-based organizations become more common. To be effective in these types of organizations, a project manager has to be familiar with the different functions and managers within the organization and then plan his communications accordingly.
What is the Formality Perspective of Communication?
The formality perspective of communication is as follows:
- Formal communication - This is usually planned and takes some time and effort to prepare. It include reports, presentations, and media releases.
- Informal communication - This generally requires less planning and happens organically. It includes emails and ad-hoc discussions.
What is the Channel Perspective of Communication?
The Channel Perspective of communication deals with how your message will be communicated. For example, it could be face-to-face, email, phone call, teleconference, etc.
What is the Communication Matrix
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) provides resources for the identification of stakeholders, definition of information requirements, and forms of communication technology.
The communication matrix creates a table where the stakeholders are listed in columns and the elements of the project are listed in rows. Where a particular row and column interest in the table, the matrix employs a letter indicating whether the information disclosure to the relevant stakeholder requires approval, review and comment, or is just to inform with no feedback.
What is Document Control?
The project plan must address the issues of document control (organizing the creation, distribution, and storage of documents).
Document control systems generally have functions to distribute, store, and retrieve information that is needed by the project team.
Document control systems have a systematic numbering system that allows a team member to derive information about the document (such as category, location, purpose, author, and date).
Control systems also allow for version control as a document is modified over the course of a project.