The project manager is key in establishing and maintaining an environment that allows the project team to communicate, according the PMBOK Guide, Seventh Edition, Project managers set the tone for success by modeling behaviors such as transparency, respect, and positive disclosure and following a process to manage communications on their projects. Following are 5 strategies you can use today to manage your project communications. management
Strategies to Manage Project Communication
- Identify & Analyze Stakeholders
- Plan Project Communications
- Send & Receive Information to Manage Project Communication
- Manage Stakeholder Engagement
- Monitor & Control Communication
Strategy 1: Identify and Analyze Stakeholders
Start by identifying the people and organizations involved in or impacted by the project or the product being developed. These individuals or entities can positively or negatively impact outcomes over the course of the project. This step is important to help manage project communication. You can read more about stakeholder identification here.
Project managers must also understand all their stakeholders’ requirements and expectations their level of influence, extent, and length of their involvement, as well communication needs and preferences.
Managing stakeholder expectations — the belief or mental image of the future — can differ by stakeholder. That’s why project managers need to talk through all expectations, to make sure that everyone shares the same desired outcomes. This sets the stage for communication planning.
Strategy 2: Plan Project Communications
Armed with the information from our stakeholders, it’s time to start planning project communications. Planning is about considering the project’s overall communications approach. It begins by defining what actions deliver the desired outcomes such as:
- The right information gets to the appropriate stakeholder, is clear and understandable, and arrives in the appropriate format at the right time.
- Communications are measured and analyzed on a regular basis and changed as needed.
- Stakeholders understand what communication is expected of them and the communication they receive meets their needs on the project.
There are several benefits to having a communication plan in place including improved stakeholder engagement and a decrease in communication problems, conflict, and rework.
As a result of planning communications, the project manager should have a document description of the communication needs of the stakeholders and a strategy to meet them. Plan components may include:
- What needs to be communicated, why and between whom?
- What is the preferred method of communication?
- Who is going to provide what information, the level of frequency and detail?
- Who has access to what communications, who can impart information, and who can edit?
- How to tailor communication based upon language and culture?
Once the plan is in place, we can determine how to send and receive information.
Strategy 3: Send & Receive Information to Manage Project Communication
The most basic communications only ensure the message has been delivered. Excellent project communications require a more comprehensive approach that includes the sender, the receiver, and confirmation that the message is correctly understood. Both the sender and the receiver are responsible for ensuring the message has been properly interpreted and understood.
Reports, information radiators, and individual communications are the artifacts of project communications. While these artifacts are updated on a regular basis, it is important to look at how each of these documents are part of and are influencing the project communication plan. In addition to communication plan updates on project status, issues and issue resolutions, here are some other communication plan artifacts:
- Issue status or log
- Project reports and presentations
- Updated project records
- Lessons learned documentation
- Project document updates
- Risk and stakeholder registers
Strategy 4: Manage Stakeholder Engagement
At this point, stakeholders have been identified and analyzed. You have planned and are using key artifacts that help you communicate with your stakeholders at the right time with the right information. Another strategy to manage project communications has to do with stakeholder engagement.
The key is to establish and maintain a common understanding of the project, its objectives, constraints and how they all interact to deliver the desired value throughout the project. Each stakeholder’s needs have been planned so when changes are needed, the project manager is able to adjust and maintain high levels of engagement with each stakeholder.
Strategy 5: Monitor & Control Communication
While the project manager is effectively communicating on the project, they are at the same time monitoring communication to ensure information is getting to where it is needed, is clear and allows stakeholders to act as necessary. The key to monitoring and controlling our communication is to make sure that that the information being communicated is being understood, and that it’s being understood in the intended way.
When monitoring and controlling communications, there are several ways to identify and measure compliance to the communication plan. For example, you can review the data of the project’s status, known as work performance information. Work performance data includes:
- Metrics captured in various control processes
- Changes, risks, and issues
Reviewing this information allows you to validate that the team is being productive and achieving the project goals. Work performance information can be organized into project management plan updates or project document updates, each of which allow you to identify and communicate information that stakeholders need.
Learn More About How to Manage Project Communication
If you’re interested in learning how to manage project communications, check out RMC’s eLearning course, Project Communications and Stakeholder Engagement shows you how to manage project communications and engage your stakeholders. You may also be interested in our Leading with Emotional Intelligence and Organizational Awareness eLearning course to elevate your leadership skills.