Figure 9.1 The Project Communications Plan
Stakeholders—Communication requires a sender, a message, and a receiver; however, we often focus mainly on the first two (Neuendorf 2002). Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have a "stake" or claim in the project's outcome and, therefore, are the receivers of the project information we send. In general, this group would include the project sponsor or client, the project manager, and the project team because each would have a specific interest in the project's performance and progress. Other people, such as senior managers, financial and accounting people, customers, and suppliers, may have a special interest in the project as well. Therefore, it is important that we keep these special interests informed.
Information Requirements—A diverse group of stakeholders will result in diverse information requirements. Identifying the information requirements of the various stakeholders allows the project manager and project team to better determine the information reporting mechanisms, timings, and delivery medium for each stakeholder. Instead of a single report that may or may not meet the needs of each stakeholder, a particular report or metric can be designed to meet an individual stakeholder's needs and, therefore, improve communication with that stakeholder. In general, these information requirements will focus on scope, schedule, budget, quality, and risk. Depending on the needs of the stakeholder, the requirements and level of detail may be different.
Type of Report or Metric—Depending on the information needs of a particular stakeholder, a specific report or reporting mechanism can be identified. These may include specific canned, or template, reports that are provided by a project management software tool or a custom report with specific metrics. In addition, reporting mechanisms may include formal or informal reviews of deliverables, milestones, or phases. Other reporting mechanisms, such as newsletters and other public relations tools, can serve a general population of stakeholders.
Timings/Availabilities—The timing and availability of the reports sets expectations for the stakeholder. Some stakeholders may feel they need up-to-the-minute or real time access to the project's performance and progress. Other stakeholders may have an almost casual interest. Set timing and availability let people know when they will know. They also allow the project manager and team to stay focused by minimizing demands for ad hoc reports and status updates by powerful stakeholders. Medium or Format—The medium or format defines how the information will be provided. Possible formats include paper reports, face-to-face, electronic files, e-mail, or some other electronic format, such as the Web. Defining the format also sets expectations and allows the project manager to plan the resources needed to support the communications plan.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.