Use These Five Easy Steps to Create a Communication Plan

If you’ve ever been told you’re going to need a communications plan to do change management, but you don’t really know what that means or where to get started, you’re not alone. Project communications plans follow the basic questions of who will receive information, what information needs to be communicated, how will information be disseminated and how often, and finally who on the project team will be responsible for delivering the information.

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Effective communication is all about distributing "the right information to the right people at the right time." The Communications Plan describes the information that must be distributed to all project stakeholders, and the details for how and when this takes place. You can create a Communications Plan by following these five simple steps:

1. Identify the stakeholders

It all starts with stakeholders. If you have already identified the project stakeholders you can use this list. If not, identify all the stakeholders first.

2. For each stakeholder, determine the communication needs

Different stakeholders need different types of information. For instance, some stakeholders may need status updates, some may need financial reports, some may need a monthly newsletter and some may need access to project management documents.

3. Determine the communication medium

The medium refers to how the communication will take place. This could mean a paper report, email, meeting, teleconference, collaborative tool, etc.

4. Determine the frequency

Some communication takes place daily, some weekly, some monthly, etc.

5. Assign the communication activity

Nothing will get done unless someone is assigned to do the work. Some of the communication events such as status reports are likely assigned to the project manager. Others can be assigned to team members.

Communication is perhaps the most important aspect of project management. On many projects, status reporting is all that is required. However, as projects get larger and have more stakeholders status reporting is not enough. That is the time to create the Communications Plan to ensure you provide all the stakeholders with the information they need, when they need it.

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