In a large project, all communication should take place in the context of an overall communications strategy and plan. Status meetings and status reporting are required, just as for all projects. In addition, there are many other types of proactive communication that need to be considered. This creative and proactive Communication Plan is created using the following process.
- Identify the project stakeholders. In some cases there are groups of stakeholders with similar communications needs; for instance, a Project Steering Committee. In other cases, there may be a single person, like a sponsor.
- Determine the communication needs for each stakeholder. Each stakeholder group may have some similar and some unique communication needs. The Communication Plan helps you get the right information to the right people.
- Brainstorm how to meet the needs. For each stakeholder, brainstorm how to fulfill the communication need. Determine the information he or she needs to know, how often he/she needs an update, and the best manner to deliver the information. At this point, be creative in looking for ways to communicate to the project stakeholders. For instance, all stakeholders still need an updated project status. The Steering Committee may need to get together for an executive briefing and to provide strategic direction every other month. The Project Sponsor may need a personal briefing on a monthly basis. A quarterly newsletter may need to go out to the entire client organization for informational and marketing purposes.
- Implement mandatory communication. Regardless of the prioritization, implement any communication options that are mandatory for the project or for the environment. This will definitely include project Status Reports, but there may also be government required reports, legal reports, etc.
- Prioritize the other communication options. Determine the effort required to create and distribute each of the identified communication options outlined in step 3. Also determine the potential benefit of the communication to the recipient and the project team. Use this information to prioritize the communication options that were established above. Implement the communication options that provide high value and require low effort from the project team. Also evaluate those options that have high value and require a high level of effort from the project team. Some of these might make sense to implement while others may not. Discard those that require high effort for marginal benefit. Also discard those that provide marginal benefit even though they may take little effort from the project team.
- Add the resulting communication activities to the schedule. If the communication work is not added to your schedule, it will never get done. This will include assigning frequencies, due dates, effort hours and a responsible person(s) for each communication option implemented.