So you know what your project will deliver. You have the vision. And a list of stakeholders. Now it’s time to prepare the project communication plan. That is, to clarify your communication objectives for each stakeholder group and plan how you are going to meet them.
In his book Putting Strategy to Work Eddie Obeng illustrates how change projects can fail when stakeholders are ignored
By leaving out the stakeholders who actually had to change, change themselves, I was simply ignoring the need for gaining buy-in, and that would come back to haunt me a year later. For example, the sales force could see the fact that we would be asking them to interact with a new group of customers. It was obvious that to achieve this we would be changing the bonus structure. They could see it coming a mile away so they started early trying to undermine what I was trying to do. They did everything they could not to be involved, so that when the new computer system needed to be specified the specification was almost completely carried out by the IT department.
Project Communication Plan
Obeng, or rather his fictional character, goes on to describe how a stakeholder who is committed to the project undermines the change initiative because project communication wasn’t planned effectively. The point is this: stakeholder management is one of the three most important activities carried out by the project manager. Ignore and fail. Worse still is to prepare a project communication plan and resign it to the shelf!
The project communication plan describes how the project team will engage with its stakeholders. Moreover, it should explain the rationale for communication, the expected outcome―commitment, involvement, favourability, understanding, awareness―and the best way to involve a particular stakeholder group.
The plan comprises of two parts
- A table identifying what information is communicated by the project team and who should receive it.
- A list specifying what communication type is used and when it is needed.
Finally, put your project communication plan to work, check progress, and work to overcome resistance when it arises.
Have Your Say
How much time do you spend on communication? What information do you communicate? How successful are you? Please join the discussion.
Creative Commons image courtesy Joshua Ryan Adelman.