Project communications management

Project communications management

The Project Management Institute PMI has conducted research that shows that up to 56% of budget can be wasted due to poor communication within the team. On average, a project manager spends 60% to 90% of his time communicating with participants and stakeholders. Do you want to spend time and money inefficiently? To get a tangible effect from every communication, it is important to use project communications management plan.

What is project communications management and why is it necessary?

Communication within the framework of project work is a process of information transfer between project participants and interested persons. Thanks to this, it is easier to perform work tasks.

Project Communications Management (PCM) – This is the organization of the interaction process of team members. The manager collects and distributes information among project participants. He finds, implements and uses various tools to improve the effectiveness of communication, as well as creates a plan for the UCP, according to which all interested parties will interact.

It is a common misconception that communication in a project is only about collecting reports and setting tasks. This is the minimum, which is often not enough. The effective interaction of team members is the glue that binds the disparate elements of the project together.

In order to facilitate the communication of participants, the principles, methods and regularity of meetings and other methods of communication should be defined in advance.

Project communications management plan– This is a document that prescribes regulations for interaction, communication channels and information transfer formats.

With a small number of participants, the manager can keep the main communications in mind. But if more than 15 people are involved in one way or another in the project, it will be difficult to do without a well-thought-out UCP plan.

Benefits of using a project communications management plan:

  1. Specific terms. Let’s give an example: if the participants of the meeting know in advance about its time, they will definitely have time to prepare all the necessary information, presentations, and also distribute their work tasks so that they will not have urgent matters or calls until the moment of the meeting.

  2. Content of communication. If the meeting participants know not only the time, but also the topic of the meeting, then they will be able to prepare a list of questions and all the data related to the project. This significantly saves time at the meeting itself, as well as after it: there is no need to collect additional information, contact colleagues again.

  3. Decision-making. When planning work, it is necessary to know when and by whom key decisions regarding the project will be made. For example, to plan the purchase of materials for construction on the 10th, you need to be sure that the list of manufacturers used will be approved on the 5th. Therefore, the UCP plan should include the dates of the decisions made, despite the fact that not all the necessary information has been collected yet. It is also important to record who is responsible for each task.

  4. Discipline. Having a clear plan disciplines all participants: from investors to ordinary employees. Everyone gets a share of team responsibility and certainty.

  5. Saving time. This advantage follows from all the previous points. The productivity of the interaction increases, so it happens at an accelerated pace without frequent hiccups.

What communication management methods are used in the project

There are many ways of communication. They depend on the number of participants in the interaction, the degree of importance and the format of the information being transmitted. In one company, several methods can be used at the same time, the difference in communication formats is especially noticeable when some employees work remotely.

The following methods of communication are most often found in companies:

  • initial discussion of the project: held at the very beginning, responsible and interested persons are present, general goals and stages are discussed;

  • presentation of the project: it is organized for stakeholders, the plan and planned results, deadlines are presented;

  • daily meetings of five minutes, they are gliders or stand-ups. On them, the manager outlines the task plan for the day, and the employees talk about their work processes in a few words;

  • meetings: can be held once a week or a month, include the presentation of intermediate results;

  • meetings for each stage of the project: they can open a new level of activity or sum up;

  • retrospectives: communication after the completion of the project, it is necessary to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the work process.

It should also be noted the daily communication in corporate messengers, as well as the use of specialized programs for project management, for example, Aspro.Cloud. In CRM, you can leave comments on the project, as well as complete work stages, attach reports and supporting documentation. If desired, these interactions can also be regulated.

Depending on the team, the format of any communication can be face-to-face or remote. In addition, there are mixed meetings where part of the employees are face-to-face and part are remote.

Stages of communications management

All project communications are carried out cyclically. One cycle consists of 4 stages presented in the diagram.

When the cycle ends, new information appears, it starts a new round of communication. A manager should monitor each stage, record changes and results.

Communications planning

The first stage is preparatory. Its main task is to determine the most convenient and effective methods of communication, as well as the regularity and volume of information transmitted. The result of the planning stage should be a document — a communications plan agreed with the interested parties.

Provision of communications

This is the process of transferring information. The manager distributes information flows through predetermined communication channels. At the same time, he needs to record this information, for example, create reports or keep minutes of meetings. He delegates part of the communications, so he does not directly participate in the distribution of information, but still controls the process, for example, requests a report on the meeting.

Tracking reactions

The task of monitoring is to determine how effective and convenient for all participants communication is conducted according to the approved plan. If there are weak points, they should be corrected. For example, one of the interested parties does not receive information in full or the feedback takes too long. To verify the effectiveness of the UCP plan or learn about its shortcomings, it is best to simply ask the project participants for their opinion.

Adaptation

If deficiencies were identified at the previous stage, it is necessary to correct them, make adjustments to the plan. The following criteria are most often changed:

  • communication channel, for example, instead of paper mail, information is sent via email or messenger;

  • the regularity of meetings, it can change in both directions, because too frequent meetings sometimes turn out to be superfluous;

  • the number of participants in negotiations — sometimes it is more appropriate to convey information face-to-face.

Project communications management planning

It is necessary to approach the planning of the UCP at the stage when there is already a common vision of the project. Until this moment, communications will be chaotic, but this is enough for initial discussions. You need to switch to the UCP plan when:

  • you have decided on the scope and time of work;

  • the stages of the project are outlined, there is a basic plan for their implementation;

  • a project management plan has already been developed, where one of the points is the choice of communications;

  • you have collected all information about stakeholders;

  • responsibilities have been assigned to departments and specific employees, and the core team has been assembled.

Project planning is a long and routine process. And many have already made sure from their own experience that sometimes the planning is not yet completed, and the work on the project is already underway. In this case, do not leave the communication unattended and do not wait for the planning to be completed. Sketch a basic plan with the caveat that it will be refined.

Some important points to keep in mind when creating a communication plan:

  1. Communication is necessary both for managers and ordinary employees. Therefore, it is important to consider their interests and convenience. For example, when introducing a CRM system, you need to prepare a small guide after working with it.

  2. It is necessary to take into account the specifics of the team. If at first punctuality was not a strong point of the team, but a creative approach and some freedom were more valued, then strict time limits may not take root.

  3. Too much communication just wastes time. Formalism is an extreme that burns working time, but does not give efficiency. Therefore, you should not include daily meetings with reports and presentations in the plan, if you can do without them.

  4. Information is urgent and non-urgent. If you separate the degree of urgency, you can use different project communications management processes, which will lead to time savings.

  5. The purpose of communication is not to send information, but to receive and understand it. Therefore, it is always necessary to focus on the listeners and ask for feedback.

  6. It is necessary to take into account the difference in time and mentalitiesif you are running an international project.

How to draw up a project communications management plan: an example

Before you decide on a UKP plan, answer the following questions:

  1. Who is interested in receiving information? Customers, investors, team members.

  2. What information exactly does each person or department need? Intermediate results, spent resources, project documentation.

  3. Who owns this information and will share it? Heads of departments of marketing, proceedings, accounting.

  4. How often is transmission required? Daily, once a week, once a month, after completing a stage.

  5. Which communication channels will be more effective? Personal meetings, messengers, mail.

  6. In what form will this or that information be transmitted? Orally, as a report, table, diagram.

After that, you can develop an adaptive template for the company, to which certain data will be substituted depending on the communication task.

Here is an example of a table that can be customized:

Topic of communication

Regularity

Communication method

Responsible for communication

Participants

General outline of the discussion

Materials for communication

Approval of the project budget

Once a month

Face-to-face meeting

Project Manager

Chief accountant, financier, heads of departments

1. Comparison of actual costs with planned ones.

2. Search for cost reduction methods.

Monthly expense reports for each department

Delegation of tasks

Once a week

Glider

Project Manager

Heads of departments

Assignment of tasks from departments and collection of reports for the previous period

Task plan and reports

Presentation of the project

Before starting each stage

Video conference

Project Manager

Stakeholders

Overview of interim results and plans for the next stage

Presentation

You can have several UCP plans: the entire project with basic communications, as well as a specific period, for example, for one stage or a month. These plans can be adjusted during the work, but they should set the general tone of communication within the company, discipline employees and organize their interaction. If you managed to establish communication, then the lion’s share of the work has already been done. As in clockwork, the main task of the watchmaker is to fit all the gears so that they work harmoniously, and each hand is in its place.

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