The first step to creating a communication plan is identifying who needs to know something about the project. Management stakeholders aren’t dedicated to the project, but they make key decisions about it.
Note: The customer is part of the management stakeholder group, but often wants different information delivered in different ways. The project sponsor is also part of the management stakeholder group, but is usually involved more intimately with the project. Supporting groups might be involved in your project from time to time and need to know specific information. Tip: As you develop your communication plan, the golden rule is to give the audience what it wants.
Usually, you want to distribute some information that audiences don’t think to ask for. Tip: Keep track of each type of information that you provide to each audience because the distribution method and timetable you choose may vary based on the information.
The information that you communicate varies depending on whether you’re planning, executing, or closing the project. Project planning: The components of the project plan help people involved with the project understand the purpose of the project and their roles in completing it successfully. Project execution and control: Once the plan is approved and you begin to execute that plan, people need to know the rules. Project closure: You wrap up projects with reports that summarize the performance of the project. Project publicity: Regardless of the phase a project is in, you want to build enthusiasm and commitment for it. Management stakeholders, including the customer, project sponsor, and other high-level stakeholders, typically care about the overall business goals of a project. Note: As internal customers, company executives often require more detailed project information than external customers. The project plan:During planning, management stakeholders must ensure that the proposed plan satisfies their needs. Project status: Executive summaries of project status focus on high-level performance and accomplishments. Financial information: These stakeholders understand and care about the financial measures for projects, so they want to know the current financial results, including performance compared to the budget and other metrics, such as ROI. Tip: Executives plan for the long term, so they also want to know what is in store for the project in the future. Functional managers usually provide the people who perform the project work, so they need to see project plans to understand the skills required, to know when their people are needed, and to be aware of any constraints, such as cost or availability.
Project plan: During planning, functional managers must understand the big picture of the project, but they focus on work packages, the skills needed, and when assignments are scheduled to occur. Project status: Functional managers need to know when their people will be done with their assignments, so they can line up more work for them in the future. Initially, team members must understand the work they are supposed to perform as well as how that work fits into the big picture of the project. Issues: Team members need to know about issues that might affect them, proposed solutions, and how closed issues were resolved. Lessons learned: Team members can work more effectively if they can take advantage of tips, shortcuts, or practices to avoid.
Decisions: Team members must know about any decisions that affect the direction or objectives of the project, so they can conform to the new guidelines.
The last step to developing a communication plan is to determine the best methods for getting each type of information to your audiences. Communication methods come in many guises and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Status reports: These can contain different types of information depending on the audience. Note: When you distribute documents electronically, you have to consider the software formats that your audiences can read. Meetings: These can vary from one-time kickoff meetings to daily meetings of small groups of team members, weekly or monthly executive updates, or occasional all-hands meetings. Storing documents: This is a reasonable solution for information that only some people need only some of the time. Newsletters and email distribution lists: These work well for announcements and other information you want to disseminate to broad audiences. If you want someone to do something, sending an email or leaving a voice message is not the same as getting something done. When you choose communication options, opt forthe ones that get information to audiences with the least amount of effort. Tip: Although the ideal approach is to provide every audience with exactly what they want, some communication methods can be extraordinarily time-consuming. The communication plan begins with sections that list the audiences for the project, the information you plan to communicate, how you will compile the information, and the communication methods you plan to use.
After you complete your communication plan and begin executing the project, days and weeks can pass before you realize it. Use a standard format: The people in your audience can find the information they need more quickly if you deliver project status in the same format each time, as demonstrated by the project status report template in Figure 11-4. Begin with a project status summary: Key stakeholders appreciate a summary of status, so they can decide whether they must review the entire report in detail.
Review the budget and project schedule: Summarize the budgeted and actual costs and the planned and actual dates for the status period, and explain significant variances (more than 10 percent). Note: As project manager, be sure to define the meaning of significant variance during project planning.
Focus on accomplishments: Achieving goals and handing over deliverables is more important than the detailed tasks that led up to them.
Document lessons learned: By publicizing effective techniques or ill-advised approaches, other team members can be more productive. Report the status of significant issues and risks: Describe the progress made toward resolving issues and managing risks during the last status period. Include links to a project repository, so readers who want more information can locate it without calling you. To download the companion content referenced in the text, visit The Microsoft Press Store and click on Downloads in the middle of the page. Purchase Successful Project Management: Applying Best Practices and Real-World Techniques with Microsoft Project by Bonnie Biafore here.


Thank you for this publication I was looking for exactly this Information for my part in an IT group assignment in project management.
Thanks for this paper.I found it useful for my research work on communication variables, its measurement (quantitatively} and links between them. Cannot find the companion link described here, “To download the companion content referenced in the text, go to the O’Reilly book site and click on Companion Content in the left column. Get your group together and join MPUG at our lowest prices – the bigger the group, the bigger the discount (continuous training for pennies a day). Featured Microsoft Project Video TipUsing deadlines to see due dates for tasks, summary tasks, or milestones.GET OUR FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTERSign-up for free how-to articles on Microsoft Project and upcoming web training events! A communication plan can be as simple or as sophisticated as your project requires for delivering information to the people who need it.
Stakeholders are obvious audiences for project communications, but other groups often needor wantproject information. Management stakeholders share similar needs for project communication and can include customers, the project sponsor, a steering committee or leadership team, members of the change management board, functional managers, and so on. For example, you might send the project sponsor the same information that you provide to other management stakeholder groups, but also meet face to face for in-depth discussions.
For example, sales and marketing might want to know what the product features are and when it’ll be ready to sell. For example, vendors, suppliers, partners, and the project managers who work for them can belong to your core team. Just as a Gantt chart might make perfect sense to you and not one whit to the customer, the methods of communication you choose must actually get the message through to your audience. For example, you communicate the benefits of your project, the problem statement, and the project objectives to everyone involved, even though team members might want to know only what their task assignments are. For example, you might categorize information based on what different groups need to know: planning, day-to-day detailed status, high-level status, and general information.
For example, you might distribute project status every week while the stakeholders want a thorough financial update once a month. From the problem statement to the schedule and the communication plan, each component describes how you plan to run the project.
You have to provide people with procedures, such as reporting time and expenses, requesting time off, escalating issues, and so on.
For example, the elegant programming shortcut that is helpful and fascinating to the development team would put management stakeholders to sleep. Publicizing a project early on might include announcements in the company newsletter, contests to name the project, or road shows that describe the purpose and benefits of the project. They must evaluate project performance compared to the entire portfolio of the company’s projects and business objectives. Later, if requirements or criteria change, these stakeholders revisit the project plan while negotiating change orders, contract revisions, or modifications to the project goals. Management stakeholders want to know about major milestones that have been completed, summaries of costs and schedule performance (the project is one month behind schedule and $20,000 over budget), and major issues and risks that could prevent the project from achieving its goals. For example, the customer, project sponsor, and members of the change management board must evaluate change requests to see whether they should be approved or rejected.
Is the project going to deliver on time and under budget Will it deliver the financial results they want Will it achieve its objectives Or are changes necessary?
Once people are working on assignments, functional managers want to know how much longer those people are needed or might ask if they can substitute someone else. With status updates, team members can collaborate with their colleagues and help devise solutions to problems. You must decide how often audiences need information, the best method for delivering information, and the best format in which to deliver it. For example, face-to-face communication is best for delicate discussions or to brainstorm solutions.
Moreover, whether you produce paper or electronic status reports depends on the audience as well. For example, if some team members have older versions of Word, you might choose to distribute reports in Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft XPS Document Writer format.
Although you can’t guarantee that people will pay attention in a meeting, getting people in the same room is ideal for discussions, brainstorming, and decision making. For example, an executive update meeting might start with a presentation of project status followed by an energetic discussion. For example, if you want stakeholders to review and approve your project plan, you should send the plan to them for review. For example, you can store any document-based deliverables, such as the current project plan, requirements, specifications, change requests, and other project information in a shared folder, on a web page, or in a shared workspace. You can distribute information to many people without much effort, but the readers can skip the message if it doesn’t apply to them. One way to coax responses from people who do that is to tell them what you plan to do if you don’t hear from them by a specific time or day. For example, don’t send hard copies of status reports if everyone on the project checks email every day.
If communication demands threaten to consume every workday, try suggesting to stakeholders alternatives that require less time. But the heart of the communication plan is a matrix that shows how you plan to communicate information to each project audience, as illustrated in Figure 11-2. A matrix like the one included on page 2 of the sample communication plan is helpful for showing the information you communicate to audiences and the methods you plan to use. As project manager, you can set up your communication tasks as milestones in Project so you see reminders about communication along with the rest of the tasks you review regularly. In the Untitled Task dialog box, in the Subject text box, type the name of the communication task, such as Prepare stakeholders status report. In the Recur Every… Week(s) On text box, type the number of periods between each occurrence. In the Range Of Recurrence section, you can keep the No End Date option selected, as shown in Figure 11-3, to receive reminders until you decide to delete the task. Develop a template for your project status report and include notes about how to fill it in. By using a template for your project status report, you wont forget to include important information, and readers can find the information they need more easily.
As a consultant, she manages projects for clients and wins accolades for her ability to herd cats.
During my internships working in the Project Department of an Engineering + Construction company, I was asked to develop a communication plan, and you have given me a good start.


For example, a conference call that includes people in Europe, Asia, and North America is going to keep someone up late and get someone else up early, and you don’t want to make those decisions at the last minute. They need to know what’s going on with the project, but they also contribute a lot of the information that you communicate to others.
The legal department gets involved only to work on contracts or to review documents for legal issues.
However, you typically don’t tell external audiences as much as you do internal team members. And if that means you have to prepare a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation for the steering committee, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for the accounting department, a Microsoft Word document for project teams, and a Microsoft SharePoint site for the developers, so be it. Taylor’s approach is to give people the opportunity to opt out of receiving specific types of information.
For all audiences that you’ve identified, the next step is to determine what they need to know, what they want to know, and what information you want to tell them. For another example, if a project is going to change how processes in your organization are going to work, you can begin to tout the benefits of the changes.
You might also categorize information by whether it’s required, desired, or merely for reference.
Some audiences review planning documents in detail and approve them, whereas other groups use them simply as direction for the work they perform. For most of the project duration, people need to know the status of the project and what’s planned for the near future.
On the other hand, the financial measures that the management stakeholders can’t live without would be equally boring to most technical folks. During project execution, you might use a project newsletter to publicize accomplishments, host celebrations upon completion of significant milestones, or distribute pens or coffee cups emblazoned with the project logo. During project execution, they frequently review performance, such as how much progress has been made, how much money has been spent, and the quality of the results that have been achieved. If you are measuring other aspects of project performance, such as lines of code written or statistics about defects found and fixed, they want to know whether the metrics are good or bad and about the trends in performance. As work progresses on the project, team members need to know detailed status about completed work and the work that’s scheduled for them in the near future. For example, everyone involved in the project needs a project status report, which you might distribute via email to the entire team but review in a meeting with stakeholders. Sending status reports to people makes it easy for them to read the information, and they can choose to scan the reports for pertinent topicsor ignore them if time is at a premium. Other meetings, such as lessons learned sessions, can be completely dedicated to group discussion.
The most effective way to obtain a response to a request is to tell people up front what you want them to do and when. An email distribution list is much easier than printing and distributing dozens of hard-copy memos.
If you prefer more obvious reminders, you can create tasks with reminders in Microsoft Outlook so you don’t forget to send important information to project audiences or schedule meetings.
If you’re certain that the project will end when you expect, you can choose either the End After . The key to reporting project status is to be concise while still delivering information that people need or want to hear. Also, document the risks that were avoided by implementing plans to circumvent those risks or because the work packages that were at risk have been delivered without issue. By planning your approach for communication in advance, you can provide the right information to the right people, at the right time, in the right format, and with the right emphasis. After all, your job as project manager is to make the project a success, and communicating information successfully is a big part of that.
For example, the customer, project sponsor, and management stakeholders need status reports, but they also want information about the project strategy and issues and risks that might affect the business objectives for the project. This section describes information you typically communicate in projects and then categorizes it by the groups that use it. Most of the time, they don’t want to know the details, although they will for significant issues, such as someone absconding with project funds. Your organization’s executive team meets once a month and wants an executive summary of project status with emphasis on the budget and financial measures. Documents in paper or electronic format are ideal for communicating large amounts of information that require study. For example, an email that scrolls for pages before you get to the point will be deleted long before the recipient knows what you’re asking for. However, for some information, such as reports that government agencies require, you have to use their format and transmission methods. In Outlook, you can set up recurring tasks for email, reports, and regularly scheduled meetings. Your road map is the project communication plan, illustrated by the first page of a sample communication plan in Figure 11-1.
Investors and regulatory agencies (such as the IRS or a public utility commission) might represent additional external audiences. To make sure responsibility lies where it belongs, anyone who opts out of receiving communications must abide by decisions that are made without their input. In fact, you can send meeting requests to attendees to schedule meetings and keep track of who has accepted and who can’t attend.
This section describes the components of a communication plan, how you choose the communication methods appropriate for your project, and how to create a communication plan. For these audiences, the format and schedule of communication is often already specified, such as the financial statements that the SEC requires. And team members have asked you to distribute the detailed status reports of team accomplishments every week. Occurrences option when you know the number of occurrences or the End By option when you know the last date for the task to occur. If you do ask for help, it’s a good idea to tell the managers you ask what you would like them to do. Of course, you must be willing to go with the picture of the meerkat if you still don’t get a response.



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