Eight (8) Steps to Create a Communication Plan:
All projects should report status. However, on many projects status reporting is not enough. Those projects need a more holistic communications approach. A Communication Plan (also called a Communications Management Plan) is the way to frame the overall communication approach. The following eight steps tell you how to create one.
1 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.
2 Determine the communication needs for each stakeholder. The project manager can categorize the communication needs into three areas.
3 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. A quarterly newsletter may need to go out to the entire client organization for informational and marketing purposes.
4 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.
5 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.
6 Prioritize the other communication options. 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.
7 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.
8 In addition, larger projects can also create a lot of documentation. This documentation can easily get out of control. The process of managing documentation is much easier if the project manager takes care to plan what the documents will look like, where they will be stored and how they will be controlled. This is done in a separate Document Management Plan.