Communication is a vital need in the success of a project. An important task in the communication plan is to identify the stakeholders first. For the success of your project, you have to let the stakeholders know the progress of the project. You plan your communications process to ensure that each category/type of stakeholder has his/her or her information needs addressed appropriately. You will have to determine these needs beforehand. Expectations’ management is another dimension of the plan to be drawn up. The last but not the least, of course, is reporting the performance of the project. How it is progressing, are there any delays, any potential hold ups and risk or opportunity seen are some kind of things stakeholders would be interested in. Processes involved in the communications planning then, should involve the following.
– Identify stakeholders
– Plan communications
– Manage expectations
– Performance reporting
Identifying and categorizing stakeholders are measures based on their interests, involvement and influence on the success of the project. These are never quantitative but analytical techniques are available that help assess their importance with respect to a project. Depending on the evaluation on these dimensions, you need to ensure that the communication needs of each are fulfilled. The manager the PM reports to, needs to know a whole lot of details. By contrast, the divisional manager would certainly need to know if the project is going smoothly on a regular basis not the nitty gritty. Stakeholders are people you may need to consult. They are the people who have the power and influence to remedial/corrective measures started in time.
How exactly and what details you communicate to the stakeholders thus will need to be formalized. For smaller projects, the communications process could remain somewhat informal. Formal planning is the only way to go for substantial projects, however. What tools, techniques and media are to be used should be carefully planned.
The perceptions of stakeholders are important. It is against their expectations they are going to perceive the performance of the project. Thus, it is absolutely important to manage the expectations. Raising expectations is a surefire way to create disappointments all-round. One of the most important aspects of the communications planning is to manage the expectations on the part of the stakeholders.
The most important communication you want to convey to the stakeholders is how exactly your project is performing. Performance measurements need to be done frequently. It needs to be frequent enough that you are able to discern any likely problems. It should not be too frequent to overwhelm everyone with information overload. The project management plan is the guide that helps determine performance. You need to determine actual project progress against planned progress as well as cost baselines.