Manage Communication – Large Projects (Part 1 of 2)
In a large project, all communication takes place in context of an overall Communication Management Plan. Status meetings and status reporting are required, just as for a medium-size project. In addition, there are many other types of proactive communication that need to be considered. This creative and proactive communication is laid out in a Communication Management Plan, which is created as follows.
Beginning of Project – Plan Communication
- Determine the project stakeholders. In some cases these are stakeholder groups such as a project steering committee. In other cases, there may be a single person such as the sponsor.
- Determine the communication needs for each stakeholder. The project manager can categorize the communication needs into three areas.
- Mandatory. This generally includes project Status Reports, legal requirements, financial reporting, etc. This information is pushed out to the recipients.
- Informational. This is information people want to know or that need for their jobs. This information is usually made available for people to read, but requires them to take the initiative, or pull the communication.
- Marketing. This communication is designed to build buy-in and enthusiasm for the project and its deliverables. This type of information is pushed out to the appropriate people. You need this type of positive communication if your project requires people to change how they do their job.
- For each stakeholder, brainstorm how to fulfill the communication need. For each stakeholder, determine the information they need to know, how often they need an update, and the best manner to deliver the information. At this point, be creative. For instance, all stakeholders still need an updated project status. The Steering Committee may need an executive briefing to provide strategic direction every other month. The project sponsor may need a personal briefing on a monthly basis. A quarterly newsletter may need to go out to the entire client organization for informational and marketing purposes.
- Determine the effort required. Estimate the effort required to create and distribute each of the identified communication options outlined in step 3. Also determine the potential benefit of the communication to the recipient and the project team.
- Implement mandatory communications. Regardless of the prioritization, implement any communication options that are mandatory for the project. This will definitely include project Status Reports, but there may also be government-required reports, legal reports, etc.
- Prioritize the other communication options. Discard the communication options that require high effort for marginal benefit. Also discard those that provide marginal benefit even though they may take little effort from the project team. Implement the communication options that provide high value and require low effort from the project team. Also evaluate those options that have high value and require a high level of effort from the project team. Some of these might make sense to implement while others may not.
- Add the resulting communication activities to the schedule. This will include assigning frequencies, due dates, effort hours and a responsible person(s) for each communication option implemented.