Communications Management

Best Practices

Communications Management
Communications Management

When it comes to best practices, communications management is probably the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to running successful projects. It is fact that communications will take up approximately 90% of a project manager’s time and therefore excellent communication skills should be at the top of the list of requirements for an effective project manager.

What is project communications management?

In theory, project communications management is about appropriate generation, collection, storage and distribution of project information. During the project planning stage, it requires determining the information and communications needs of stakeholders; during the execution stage, it is about distributing the information in a timely manner, doing status reporting and progress measurement; and finally, during the closure stage, it is about gathering information in order to formalise project completion. But how is all of this applied in practice?

When does project communications management become a best practice?

For project communications management to be used as a best practice, it needs to be applied in a consistent manner throughout the life cycle of a project, from initiation, to planning, during execution, controlling and closure. It must be carried out to the point where it becomes a routine task on the project. It keeps all stakeholders well informed and gives them reassurance that the project is in safe hands. (That is what project managers are paid for, not so?)

Project communications management in 4 simple steps

1) Project communications management needs to be planned for:

•    Who needs what kinds of project information?

•    When exactly do they need it?

•    How will the information be provided?

•    Who will provide it?

It is recommended that you document in your communications management plan which information will be written, which will be orally presented (progress meetings, presentations), and whether presentation will be formal or informal. Describe exactly how information will be stored and distributed. The communications management plan is part of the overall project plan and can be as simple as a one-page communications matrix. For larger and more complex projects, a detailed communications plan may be necessary.

2) How will information be distributed?

Information distribution is about making information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner. It deals with how the information will be stored, shared and exchanged (written, oral, internal, external, formal and informal, etc).

3) Report on performance

The purpose of performance reporting is to provide stakeholders with information about project status, progress and forecasting. It generally provides information on scope, schedule, cost and quality, as well as on risk and procurement where applicable.

4) How do you communicate that the project is complete?

For some reason project administrative closure is a much neglected aspect of project communications management. However, this is important because this is where project results are reviewed and documented, project success is analysed, and lessons are learned, discussed and archived.

Make project communications management your strong point

Following this project communications management best practice, will lead to a well-structured project and consistent performance by the project manager. By practicing the important skill of project communication you will ensure that you are well on your way to becoming an efficient project management professional.

About the author

Linky van der Merwe is a certified project management professional (PMP) and Founder of Virtual Project Consulting.  She has been a senior project manager at Microsoft Consulting Services South Africa for 5 years. She likes to blog about project management and integrated online communication marketing. Her mission is to provide project management best practices advice and to recommend resources to aspiring and existing project managers. She can be reached at linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com

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