Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Communication Management/Communication Planning

The Communications Plan is a document describing the means by which project communications will occur.

Project Communication Objectives
Project Communication Objectives

The communication process must be bi-directional. The Project Manager must receive input from Project Team members and Stakeholders about their information and communications requirements, determine the best and most cost effective way in which the requirements can be met, and record the information in a formal, approved document.

Similarly, the Project Manager must provide details to the team and the Stakeholders regarding the communications he/she expects to receive, and document these requirements in the plan. The Communications Plan is developed early in the project management life cycle. It must be reviewed regularly throughout the course of the project and updated as necessary to ensure it remains current and applicable.

Some of the requirements the Project Manager and Stakeholders will need to communicate and understand, and which should be documented in the Communications Plan include:

  • How often and how quickly information needs to be disseminated.
  • By what means the Project Manager and Stakeholders prefer to receive information (via phone, email, paper).

One of the greatest challenges in project management is getting the work done by individuals and business units that do not report to the Project Manager, or even to the Project Manager’s entire chain of command. The earlier you can identify whom you need cooperation from, and the more detail you can provide as to the extent and outcome of that cooperation, the better your chances of actually influencing the work done. Make your case early and convincingly (emphasizing how the folks that DO have influence will benefit), and you may actually get them to do what your project requires.

A communication plan describes how the information and communication needs of project stakeholders will be met: a communication manager will design, and implement such a plan; thereafter s/he will evaluate how efficient and efficacious communication has been as a support activity facilitating all other project tasks. A communication plan document will describe who need what information, how it will be communicated, where and how. Project managers must create and effectively use a communication plan that performs two principle functions: collect the right knowledge, disseminate knowledge in a desirable and timely manner.

Important : Making Information Timing  !!!

For information to be used, it has to be delivered to its target users timely. As a project manager, while developing your communication plan, you need to decide how often to contact each stakeholder and with what information. Project communication differs from general communication in that it centers on the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Good project communication includes notifying the next task manager in the project delivery chain about when to expect a deliverable.

The project development team (PDT) develops a communication plan by asking the following questions:

  • Who needs what information?
  • When do they need the information?
  • Who delivers the information?
  • How should the information be delivered?

While all projects share the need to communicate project information, the specific information needs and the methods of distribution may vary widely.

The plan typically include such items as:

  • the type of communication (written report, email, form to be completed, phone calls etc); see communication Instruments
  • the correct process to follow the frequency of the communication (for example, how often are such reports expected),
  • the expected quality (for example, email communication is usually far less formal than written reports).

While formulating the project plan, the manager will have to consider also the impact that this will have on the organisational culture and identity. Even if these elements are not explicitly mentioned in the formal communication contents, they have to be considered while designing, implementing and evaluating communication.

Subsections of this chapter edit

Tools edit

  Communication Plan
  Project Stakeholder Analysis
  Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities
  Stallholders Responsibility Matrix

  Guideline: Stakeholders Identification and analysis
  Guideline: How team members can improve overall project communication
  Guideline: How team members can improve overall project communication

See also edit

  Issues 9 ⇒ Media and the international communication climate
  In the documentary story ⇒ The real project challenges
  In the documentary story ⇒ How to bypass the communication diaphragms?

  In other sections of this handbook

On other Wikibooks

  Communication Theory
  Communication Course

On Wikipedia

  Development communication

Other resources

  Communication theory

Testimonials edit

EU is is not adequately informing the public abut the good work it is doing ⇒ full interview

Skype - 07 Sept 2010

European Union funds various programmes across the world, helping governments achieve their commitments to MDG’s. It is enabling local governments in Development Countries to lead and own the process of making lasting changes in people's lives. However, the European Commission does little to inform its citizens about the positive impacts being made by initiatives that it is funding around the world. Its citizens don't know about the objectives of its programs and the activities it is funding. And also where development work takes place, few people know that changes are being made possible through the contribution of European tax payer.
I have observed that where the European Commission is closer to the ground reality, in terms of its own presence, its support to non-government organizations and local governments, the nature of its contribution and the impact of its funding are more visible. But now the way European Commission communicates is mainly bureaucratic and basic. It does not give enough importance to communicating with the opinion makers and development actors and stakeholders whom people trust and listen to, for e.g. educators, media professionals and local authorities: the interlocutors between the external agencies and the local people.