Project Management guide

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What Is Project Communication Management

Excellent communication is a critical component of project success. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI), most project failures are due to communication issues. Project communication management ensures that does not happen. It consists of three processes that help make sure the right messages are sent, received, and understood by the right people. Project communication management is one of the ten key knowledge areas in the PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge). The processes included in this area have changed over the years, but in the current version, there are three primary project communication management processes.

These are:

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

Plan project communications management

The first step is to plan how you will manage communications on your project and across all of your stakeholders. This is done by creating a project communications management plan.

It’s important to ensure all of these factors are addressed in your plan:

  • Audience - this is a list of all stakeholders affected by the project. It should include team members, sponsors, customers, and other interested parties. Consider anyone impacted by the project or who influences its success.
  • Objective - What will be the purpose of your communications? You may use some communications for awareness, like a status report, and others that require action, such as requiring a sponsor to authorize spending, or a customer to approve project testing.
  • Message - What will the message be for each type of communication? This is the actual content that will be shared. Key components to be communicated include scope, schedule, budget, objectives, risks, and deliverables.
  • Channel - How the message will be delivered” Will it be a formal report emailed out? An informal verbal debrief during a team meeting?

Your communication plan should be detailed enough to lay out exactly what will be sent, to whom, how, when, and who is responsible.

Involving your stakeholders in the creation of this plan is important. You need to understand their communication preferences and expectations. If you over-communicate, they may stop paying attention. But, if you under-communicate, it can lead to misunderstandings and issues.

Manage project 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 reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect any changes to the project or its stakeholders. The project manager also has to manage the execution of the communications management plan.

This includes:

  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.

Monitor project communications

This process used to be called ‘control communications,’ but was updated in the 6th edition of the PMBOK. Despite the title change, the process is the same. It involves monitoring and controlling project communications throughout its entire lifecycle.

This may include:

  • Confirming communications went out as planned.
  • Confirming they were received by the proper stakeholders.
  • Confirming messages were 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.

How to be successful at project communication management

Successful project managers use formal and informal communication methods across various channels. This helps increase the chances communications are received. Using simple language, sticking to relevant topics, and keeping messages concise will increase your chances communications will be understood.

The following communications skills can also increase a project manager’s chances of success:

  • Strong active listening skills
  • Proficient writing skills
  • Excellent speaking ability
  • Asking questions and probing for more information
  • Setting and managing expectations
  • Motivating people to become and stay engaged
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • The ability to summarize and recap what you’ve heard

Further Reading: