Rahman is a TV News Anchor with a Master's Degree in Strategic Communications and Leadership.
Project Management Communications
Understanding the function and processes of project management will make it much easier to develop and implement a project management communication plan. Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills, and experience to achieve a project's objectives. Creating a project management communication plan takes the major points of project management and applies those points to effective communication.
Imagine you have a major luncheon for a group like Habitat for Humanity. You're the chair of a fundraiser. Like any event, things will happen that you didn't plan for when you least expect them. Caterers could cancel. Ticket sales may be lagging. Your speaker has to change flight details, but still the show must go on. So how do you manage to get all of the information you need to the right people at the right time? You need a communications plan. That way you can structure how you talk with people inside and outside of your group.
There are five major steps for creating a project management communication plan:
- Planning and initiation
- Techniques (or monitoring and controlling)
Taking the Steps
In order for any project management communications effort to be successful, you have to do an information dump to ensure that you can effectively plan. Preparing the plan means that you have to make some assumptions so that you can define who you need to speak with and how you want to speak with them.
In the planning phase, the first order of business is to answer some questions, such as:
- Who is your audience? Is your plan oriented toward the masses or a pre-determined group?
- What does your audience need to know? Is there a call to action?
- How often does your audience need information? Is there an event that will trigger communication?
- Who's responsible for getting the information out?
- How will the information be communicated?
Once you have answered these questions, you can move on with the plan and start preparing the content for distribution.
So, now that you know the direction that you will be taking, you now have to find out what input you'll need to make sure that the information you have is correct and necessary. You have to evaluate your target audience and what they need to know. Once you can define who you are talking to and what they need, you'll be much better prepared for ensuring that you have the best possible information getting to the people who need it most. Additionally, defining how you'll get the information is important to making sure that you get the right details out in a timely manner.
The next step is knowing the tools that you'll use. When it comes to communications planning, choosing the right tools is essential to being able to fully maximize the effectiveness of your communications. Some of the tools that you can use include, but aren't limited to: social media, email, fax, U.S. mail, telephone, newsletters, flyers, and word of mouth.
Let's say that for your upcoming event you need to get the word out and get RSVPs back in order to have a head count. If you know that members of your target audience primarily use Facebook, it's probably a better use of resources to create a Facebook invite rather than just sending an email and waiting on a response. This helps you tailor the message in the right voice and to the right people.
The next step of the plan is focused on techniques for monitoring and controlling both outgoing and incoming information. You have to make sure that you have processes in place so that the flow of communication continues to be both timely and accurate.
Once you have those pieces in place, you can then start to work on output, which refers to exactly what you'll be communicating and specifically how you'll be doing it. Say for instance that you need to get feedback about their use of a new surgical technique; the Survey Monkey platform could make it easier for you and them. However, if you want to inform the community at large about the availability of a scholarship fund, then a combination of social media, a traditional press release, and phone calls may be best. Again, all of these things will be much easier to determine now that you have defined your audience and you have a plan.
Having a project management communications plan is a great way to ensure that you are communicating the message that you want to the right target audience. This type of plan is based on project management planning, which provides a process-oriented approach to better predict outcomes. The five major steps to creating the plan are planning and initiation, input, tools, techniques, and output. Having this plan in place can make the difference in successful communication for your project.
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