Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Communication Management/Communication Planning/Prioritize the Communication Options< Development Cooperation Handbook | Designing and Executing Projects | Communication Management | Communication Planning
Some communication activities provide more value than others. In the previous exercise, you brainstormed lists of communication options. Now you need to prioritize the items to determine which provide the most value for the least cost. If a communication activity take a lot of time and provides little or marginal communication value, it should be discarded. If a communication option takes little effort and provides a lot of value, it should be included in the final Communication Plan. Of course, if a communication activity is mandatory, it should be included no matter what the cost. If a mandatory activity is time-consuming, you may be able to negotiate with the stakeholders to find a less intensive alternative.
Determine the Effort Required
Determine how much effort is required for each of the communication ideas surfaced previously. Some of the activities might be relatively easy to perform. Others will require more effort. If the communication is ongoing, estimate the effort over a one-month period. For instance, a status reports might only take one hour to create, but might be needed twice a month. The total effort would be two hours.
Prepare for the unexpected
Consider setting up a project hotline that team members can call when instant communication is required, such as during local weather emergencies or critical project times.
Often during the life of your project you might deliver a message that requires immediate feedback. Yet the recipient might be unavailable. Ask stakeholders to name substitutes who you can contact during vacations, off-site meetings, project/programme purpose trips, or unplanned absences.
As the project moves forward, your communication requirements might change. For example, you may find that some stakeholders need more (or less) information or that some meetings can take place less frequently. Keep your plan flexible enough that you can make changes as required.
You'll also need to prepare for unplanned communications that may arise during a project emergency. Plan the best approach to such messages. For example, sometimes an urgent e-mail message to a busy executive might go unread for several days, so a phone call or meeting might be more effective.
Keep the quality bar high
Maintain a consistent level of quality when communicating with sponsors, steering committee members, and other stakeholders. Every project team has people with different levels of written and oral communication skills. As project manager, you need to review and approve all status reports, presentations, and other formal communications before they are delivered.
Share the load
Project communications can provide the chance for staff at all levels to improve their skills. Challenge team members by having them draft some of your presentations, memos, or status reports.
This lightens your load, helps them to improve their skills, and gives them visibility to senior staff. It's also a great way to build people's confidence and enhance team morale.
Monitor public communications
Occasionally you might enlist third parties, such as public relations organizations or other media organizations, to help with external messages.
Including these third parties during project review meetings can help avoid sending inaccurate messages to the public. Have someone internal to the project review and approve all public communications. This minimizes the number of errors — or worse, the need for a correction.
Bring it all together
Clear and accurate communications are a vital part of any successful project. As a project manager, you spend a lot of effort creating and delivering messages to people at all levels of your organization.
Planning ahead can keep you organized so that tools for communication are ready when you need them.
Choosing the right method to get each message across gives all of your words more impact.
Reviewing all important communications can prevent misunderstandings and mishaps.
Delegating a share of the project communications improves the skills and confidence of team members.
These practices lay the groundwork for an effective, informed project team and for satisfied beneficiaries.
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