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Portfolio Communication Strategy Plan

Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

A project portfolio cannot exist in a vacuum; it is important to create a communication plan for the portfolio. In this lesson you will learn how to create a plan, review the plan, and use it to ensure success of the portfolio.

Portfolio Communication Plan

Let's say that you have a plan to take your family to Disney World. When the morning comes to leave, you ask everyone why they haven't packed a single bag of luggage. You are shocked to discover that they had no idea you were going, because you never communicated your plan.

Without a solid portfolio communication plan, portfolios and projects will fail. Just as you would not plan the vacation without family input, you will not create a communication plan on your own. You will need to gather input from stakeholders to make sure you are creating a valid, solid plan. The plan may be tweaked as you go along, but this is par for the course. Let's look at a strategy for creating a plan, sticking to it, and reviewing it.

Portfolio Communication
Portfolio Communication

Making the Plan

Before laying out the plan, make a review of past portfolios or projects. What communication worked in those projects? Make notes of the things that worked and didn't work.

Stakeholders

Identify stakeholder groups! Who needs to be informed at every stage, and who can you copy on major decisions? Groups or individuals that you will communicate to include:

  • Sponsors
  • Project managers
  • Leadership teams
  • Project team members
  • Corporate leadership

These groups need to be reviewed with frequency. With whom depends on the size of the portfolio, but at each project leadership meeting you should be checking to ensure you have the right groups identified.

Items to Communicate

Will you communicate minor project milestones with the board of governors? Probably not. But you will need to communicate major updates, budget changes, etc. Likewise, you won't be sending the exact same message each time, either. You need to tailor the message for the audience. The table lists some of the items that are communicated and to whom.

Communication Item Group(s)
Status report Sponsors, leadership teams, project teams
Meeting summary Project managers, project teams
Survey Sponsors, project managers
Newsletter Sponsors, Corporate leadership

Again, this should be reviewed during the portfolio life cycle to ensure validity.

Frequency

How often do you communicate? The project team members will need frequent communication, but you may update the board on a monthly or quarterly basis. Again, the frequency depends on the portfolio, the issues that arise, and the target audience.

Channels

E-mail might be the go-to communication medium, but most stakeholders will already have full inboxes. A corporate Intranet site may also be setup to send out communication; again, many stakeholders won't take the time to go out there. This will always be a challenge, and you will need to stay on top of it.

Review!

As we've stated for each item, the plan needs to be reviewed during the life cycle of the portfolio and finally at the end. It is important to communicate effectively; an ineffective communication plan can be as bad as no plan at all.

By evaluating your current options (audience, frequency, and method), you help ensure that the messages you need to send are received and understood by the target audience. The goal of the communication plan is to eliminate gaps in communication and create accurate, timely, and relevant messaging to all stakeholders and sponsors.

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