Project Communications Management

Effective communication is the most important component of project success. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI), most project failures are due to communication issues.[i] Project Communications Management has an important function role in keeping all members of the project management team on the same page.

According to PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition, Project communication management includes the process necessary to ensure that the information needs of the project and its stakeholders are met through development of artifacts and implementation of activities designed to achieve effective information exchange.[ii] So it’s important to deliver the correct information to the correct teams and at the correct time, and establish a healthy and good relationship for managing execute the project in a good way and without a negative impact on the final product.

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The complete process of project communications management consists of two parts:

  1. The first part is connected with a strategy development, which can ensure an effective communication system for stakeholders.
  2. The second part focuses on performing the activities which are required for implementing the communication strategies.

On average, a project manager spends approximately 85-90% of his total project time in communicating. Thus for a project manager, maintaining an effective communication flow it’s  important to have the follow skills that can help in establishing effective communication:[iii]:

  • Listening actively and effectively;
  • Questioning and probing ideas and situations to ensure better understanding;
  • Educating to increase team’s knowledge so that they can be more effective;
  • Fact-finding to identify or confirm information;
  • Setting and managing expectations;
  • Persuading a person, a team, or an organization to perform an action;
  • Motivating to provide encouragement or reassurance;
  • Coaching to improve performance and achieve desired results;
  • Negotiating to achieve mutually acceptable agreements between parties;
  • Resolving conflict to prevent disruptive impacts; and
  • Summarizing, recapping, and identifying the next steps.

Besides the above-listed skills, a project manager must also follow the 5 C’s of communication that will help to create an uninterrupted and systematic communication during the whole project. These five C’s are: Correct, Concise, Clear, Coherent, Controlled.

There are three primary project communication management processes:

  1. Plan communications management
  2. Manage communications
  3. Monitor communications

Plan communications management

Plan communication management is the initial process of the project communication management, to plan how you will manage communications on your project and across all of your stakeholders. It’s important to consider all these factors in your plan:

  • Audience – this is a list of all stakeholders affected by the project and include team members, sponsors, customers, and other interested parties.
  • Objective – What will be the purpose of your communications? You can use some communications messages, like a status report, and others that require action, such as requiring the sponsor to authorize costs, or a customer to approve project testing.
  • Message – What will the message be for each type of communication? Main components include scope, schedule, budget, objectives, risks, and deliverables.
  • Channel – How the message will be delivered” Will it be a formal report emailed out or an informal verbal debrief during a team meeting?
  • Your communication plan should be detailed enough to put out exactly what will be sent, to whom, how, when, and who is responsible.
  • Involving stakeholders in the creation of this plan is important. It’s important to understand their communication preferences and expectations. If you communicate too much, they may stop paying attention, but, if you don’t communicate enough, it can lead to misunderstandings and problems.

Manage communications

Once the plan has been created and approved, it’s the project manager’s job to ensure it’s managed. This means that the plan needs to be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect any changes to the project or its stakeholders. The project manager should also manage the execution of the communications management plan.

This includes: [i]

  1. Collection and analysis of data.
  2. Creation of messages for communication.
  3. Transmission or distribution of communications.
  4. Storage of any communication reports, files or documents.
  5. Retrieval of any stored communications.
  6. Disposal of any old communications upon project closure or a set date

The manage communications process also helps to identify different features of effective communication along with the most suitable methodologies, technologies, and techniques. In addition, it allows the whole communication system to be more flexible by providing space for any adjustments in methods and techniques. It helps to accommodate the changing demands and needs of the stakeholders without disrupting the communication flow.

Monitor Communications

Monitor Communications is the final process of the project communication management. This process guarantee, that all the information needs and requirements of the project and the involved stakeholders are met upon completion. It is carried out throughout the project lifecycle and helps to optimize the flow of the information in accordance with the communication management and stakeholder engagement plan. It includes monitoring and controlling project communications throughout its entire lifecycle.

This may include:[i]

  • Confirming communications went out as planned.
  • Confirming they were received by the relevant stakeholders.
  • Confirming messages have been understood.
  • Confirming any relevant feedback was provided to the appropriate project members.

The actual type of monitoring, including method and frequency, should be a part of the communication management plan.

Communication management benefits

  • Expectations: Project communication plan helps to establish standards for how and when communication should take place. This helps the manager maintain control over the project and ensure that all stakeholders receive the information they need.
  • Consistency:  With a proper communication plan, a project manager becomes more consistent in managing project activities. Also, it gives the team members a direction in which they can constantly communicate with the rest of the team and stakeholders consistently.
  • Productivity:  An effective project management plan keeps all the team members well informed about what’s going on. This way they always get information that they need instead of stopping the work and looking for missing information.
  • Outcome:  It establishes a proper and clear communication channel between the team and the stakeholders which secures that the team knows exactly what the stakeholders want, need and expect from the project result.
  • Controlled Communication: Communication management also ensures that the correct information is delivered to the correct people and at the correct time. This leaves no space for ambiguity or confusion and provides a smooth flow of communication.
  • Project Team Collaboration: Good communication often leads to better collaboration between the team members and enhances overall focus.
  • Effective Kickoff Session: A well-organized communication management plan gives a good boost to the projects as it ensures that the project and methodologies are discussed and reviewed at a high-level. Once this is ensured team members articulate and agree on further communication processes, which gives them a clear idea of what will happen next and what their role in the project.

So, the communication management role is very important for project implementation.