In project management, one of the most effective ways of keeping stakeholders and teams aligned is through the use of a communication plan. But what is a project communication plan and how does it help keep projects running smoothly?
Natural cognitive biases like group think, unrealized expectations, and lack of contextual framing can get in the way of project success. Creating a project communication plan gets ahead of all of these challenges by setting a workflow everyone can refer back to throughout the entire collaboration process.
Learn these need-to-know communication plan details and discover a new template that will help you get all of your collaborators on the same page at all times.
Why effective communication matters
Effective communication matters because breakdowns often occur when goals are not aligned, emails get lost, and the right tools aren’t created.
One PMI survey found that 30% of respondents identified “poor communication” as the primary reason for scope gap and project failure. And, considering the cost of failure, it’s no wonder why a communication plan is necessary for every project you launch.
Creating an effective communication plan means setting your team up for success.
What is a project communication plan?
A project communication plan is an agreement between collaborators and stakeholders that outlines what, when, and how information will be shared at key intervals. Information like status updates, task-related questions, and meeting details should all be included in this written guide. The goal is to define and streamline team communications as much as possible.
Why is a communication plan important in project management?
A communication plan is important in project management because it helps get stakeholders, clients, freelancers, and team members all on the same page. Communication plans fail if there is excessive discussion around the project or if the scope of each interaction (like detailed copy notes versus big picture suggestions) isn’t defined. These issues can have a significant effect on deadlines and budgets.
A project communication plan also establishes professional boundaries. For example, your stakeholders may want to limit their interaction to email whereas your freelancers may be comfortable with texting when the conversation is time-sensitive.
Now that we are living in a post-pandemic working world, the importance of a good communication plan is even greater. Thousands of workplaces have now migrated to a hybrid or fully remote working model, and with many teams widely dispersed across locations and even time zones, communication has to be a top priority. A good project communication plan ensures that every stakeholder, no matter where they are based, is updated with the information they need, when they need it.
What goes into a good communication plan in project management?
Here’s what every good communication plan in project management includes:
- A contact sheet with collaborator roles and relevant contact information that highlights project phase owners
- List what needs to be communicated throughout the project, like meeting updates and content outlines
- Include the five Ws of virtual communication (who, what, where, when, why) for each major communication type
- Highlight good things to know regarding formality, personal pronouns, or special requests from collaborators
- Create a schedule of events for any pre-planned phone calls, virtual status meetings that actually work, and digital check-ins
- Designate status update types, where they will be located, and who will update them
- Assign reviewers to tasks that require them
- Define the communication method, date/time, and frequency of each major communication type
Communication plan examples
Your unique roadmap to an effective communication plan will vary depending on your client, your team, and your project scope. Use these examples to inspire and inform your next outline.
- Project update protocol: Agree with the client on how often they’d like to be updated on the status of their project. What will the project update include (relevant stats, milestones, and next phases)? Will this project update be delivered via email, Zoom call, or Wrike task? Iron these details out to enable more transparent and professional communication.
- Customer complaint resolution: Label the communication “customer complaint," assign a goal and timeline, then add an approver. Designate next steps for the approval in the task itself. Have the approver update the task status from Open to Closed once the complaint is resolved.
- Order fulfillment: Manually enter the order, add name and description (including items, SKUs, and location, etc.), then assign it to a team member. Automate supply chain operation by creating task dependencies for every new order, like triggering the completion of the order task to notify a member of the customer service team when they should email the customer with an update.
- Web copy creation: Add a list of review process statuses that include “web page outline," “web page in progress," and “webpage ready for review." Ask team members who draft the copy to @mention reviewers when they have completed each page to keep the project moving forward.
What are the benefits of a good project communication plan?
The benefits of a good project communication plan include staying in line with budget, timeline, and scope expectations, to name a few. The right strategy can solve most major communication breakdowns before they even happen.
Having a plan upfront makes it easier to focus on task completion instead of forgetting who said what at the last meeting or having to sift through dozens of email chains for the latest update.
An effective project communication plan also saves you the effort of having to answer individual “what’s the status” emails. When there is a plan to ensure that all stakeholders are kept appropriately informed, your project team can respond to change, ensure good client management, and maintain a high standard of communication.
Introducing Wrike's communication plan template
In addition to Wrike’s tailored project management capabilities, we have yet another resource you can use to maximize team productivity: the communication plan template. Add this template to your workflow, plug in your most important information, and kick off your project with an efficient system for sharing and requesting updates. Inside Wrike’s communication plan, you’ll find designated areas for:
- Stakeholder analysis summary and roles they will play in the project
- Key project interests or goals
- Team leads for the project
- Preferred communication channels with proper protocols
- Expectations for communication frequency
- Recurring task creation
Each of these features makes it easy for stakeholders to stay informed and involved while heightening your team’s ability to function, even over long periods of time. Try Wrike’s two-week free trial and see firsthand how our communication plan template helps unify teams and stakeholders.