Communications Requirements Analysis

Communications requirements analysis involves analyzing and determining the communication needs of the project stakeholders. According to the PMBOK® Guide, there are several sources of information you can examine to help determine these needs, including the following:

■ Company and departmental organizational charts

■ Stakeholder responsibility relationships

■ Other departments and business units involved on the project

■ The number of resources involved on the project and where they're located in relation to project activities

■ Internal needs that the organization may need to know about the project

■ External needs that organizations such as the media, government, or industry groups might have that require communication updates

■ Stakeholder information (This was documented in the stakeholder register and stakeholder management strategy outputs of Identify Stakeholders.)

This tool and technique requires an analysis of the items in the preceding list to make certain you're communicating information that's valuable to the stakeholders. Communicating valuable information doesn't mean you always paint a rosy picture. Communications to stakeholders might consist of either good or bad news—the point is that you don't want to bury stakeholders in too much information but you want to give them enough so that they're informed and can make appropriate decisions.

Project communication will always involve more than one person, even on the tiniest of projects. As such, communication network models have been devised to try to explain the relationships between people and the number or type of interactions needed between project participants. What you need to remember for the exam is that network models consist of nodes with lines connecting the nodes that indicate the number of communication channels, also known as lines of communication. Figure 5.3 shows an example of a network communication model with six channels of communication.

FIGURE 5.3 Network communication model

FIGURE 5.3 Network communication model

Nodes = participants

Lines = lines of communication between participants

The nodes are the participants, and the lines show the connection between them all. You'll need to know how to calculate the number of communication channels when you take the exam. You could draw them out as in this example and count up the lines, but there's an easier way. The formula for calculating the lines of communication is as follows:

(number of participants * (number of participants less 1)) divided by 2

Here's the calculation in mathematical terms: n (n - 1) / 2

Figure 5.3 shows six participants, so let's plug that into the formula to determine the lines of communication:

Real World Scenario stakeholder Relationships

Bill is an information technology manager working on an enterprise resource planning project. He's one of the key stakeholders on this project. Bill reports to the CIO, who in turn reports to the executive vice president, who also happens to be the project sponsor. Bill is close friends with the human resources director but doesn't get along so well with the accounting department director. This project requires heavy involvement from the accounting department and medium-level involvement from the human resources department.

You are the project manager for this project and are new to the organization. You know Bill's relationship with both the accounting and human resources directors. What you don't know is the relationship the two directors have with each other. Since all three stakeholders are key to the success of this project, it's important that all three communicate with you as well as with each other. You set up an interview with each of these stakeholders to determine several pieces of information: other departments that might need to be involved on the project, stakeholder communication needs and timing, external needs, timing of status updates for the company newsletter, and other department members aside from the stakeholders who need to be involved in the project. You also plant a few surreptitious questions that will give you some insight into the relationships the stakeholders have with each other and with the project sponsor.

You discover that the human resources and accounting directors have known each other for several years and worked together at another organization prior to coming to work here. This tells you that if you can get one of them to buy in on project decisions, the other will likely follow suit. They both have the utmost respect for Bill and his technical capabilities, even though the accounting director doesn't care for his abrupt, direct communication style. You also learn that although they both have respect for the position of the executive vice president, they don't believe the person filling that role is competent to do the job. They question his decision-making ability—or lack thereof—and warn you that you need to write down his answers and direction so that he doesn't change his story halfway through the project. Although you won't formally document this valuable piece of information, you'll definitely put it into action right away.

Exam Spotlight

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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.

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