Effective communication is key to leading a successful project, and it all starts with communications management. The processes that comprise communications management ensure that the right information is communicated to the right people at every stage of project execution.
What is communications management?
Communications management in project management outlines the processes and procedures needed to ensure that information and data throughout the life of a project are properly collected, stored, and distributed across the project team.
Communications management process
There are 3 primary steps in the communications management process:
You can start managing your project’s communication strategy by creating a communications management plan. The communications management plan needs to document communications requirements throughout the life of a project. Some of these requirements include:
Cadence: How frequently are updates going to be sent out?
Audience: Who will project communications be sent out to? Is there a different group for different types of communications?
Purpose: Will progress reports be sent out at each milestone? Will change requests be shared with all stakeholders?
Channel: What channels will be used for communication?
The communications management plan should include as much detail as possible so that there are clear expectations set and all stakeholders are on the same page.
Now that all stakeholders have agreed on the communications management plan, the project manager needs to ensure that project communications follow those guidelines. The communications plan should be seen as a living document throughout the life cycle of a project, but any changes should be communicated to the project team.
Not all stakeholders find relevance in every project detail. Because of this, only include stakeholders on communications when necessary. Create sub-groups of stakeholders to decide what types of communications they need to receive. These include project status, project performance, risks, costs, and others. Being effective in controlling communication streamlines project management and saves project leaders and team members from getting irrelevant updates and emails.
Part of the communications management plan is to define which channels will be used for various types of messages. Here are some helpful tools to facilitate these communications:
While it is one of the more informal messaging channels, instant messaging provides a streamlined, real-time way of communicating with the project team. If you are looking to get immediate feedback, these tools can be effective.
One of the downsides to using instant messaging is that the conversations happen in a vacuum. It is up to the project manager to ensure that any relevant details from these conversations make its way into the primary system of record for the project.
Instant messaging options:
Unlike instant messaging, email is an effective channel for more formal project updates being sent out to multiple stakeholders. Progress reports, performance updates, and change updates are examples of messages traditionally sent through email.
Communication management and work management software
Out of all communication methods, work management software provides the most effective method of communicating all project messages. These solutions provide a centralized location which automatically houses all communications throughout the life of a project, ensuring that everyone remains on the same page.
Instant messaging and email have their pros and cons, but they keep communication siloed and introduce unnecessary miscommunications between stakeholders.