Adaptive Project Communication
By Jorge Dominguez
At the heart of project communications is to make sure that all communication requirements are effective and are met. But these requirements change from project to project and from stakeholder to stakeholder. So, let’s look at how to adapt the project communication while keeping it effective.
How to communicate about the project, when, who the audience is, etc. is all part of the communications management plan that is part of the project management plan document or one of its subsidiary documents. The most important thing is that it has to address the needs of all project stakeholders.
Today, project communication mostly flows through weekly status reports and/or status meetings, the latter being either in person or remotely via conference calls. Not all stakeholders have the time for either but are receptive to other methods of receiving and providing information. These are the communication methods suggested by PMI:
- Written and oral, listening, and speaking
- Internal (within the project) and external (customer, the media, the public)
- Formal (reports, briefings, documents, presentations) and informal (memorandums, emails, ad hoc conversations, instant messages, body language, facial expressions)
- Vertical (up and down the organization) and horizontal (with peers)
All of them are valid and have their place in every project. Use them all in order to adapt the way you communicate project information to each project stakeholder.
A table inside your communication management plan, such as the one shown below, can define all the attributes and methods you will utilize and help in driving this process:
|Status report||Communicate project progress||-Verbal
-Rest of stakeholders
|Meeting minutes||Communicate meeting minutes||Written||Stakeholders and group directors||After every meeting||Project Manager|
|Project management plan||Communicate project plan||Written||Stakeholders and group directors||After every update||Project Manager|
|Feedback||Communicate needs, issues, comments||-Verbal
-Rest of stakeholders
In the example above, all stakeholders get the status report in a written form except John Smith who gets it verbally because he prefers it this way.
If during the course of the project you find that the established method for any of the stakeholders is not working, change (adapt) it and release an updated version of the plan so that everyone is aware of the change.
Ensure the information being distributed is not just comprehensive but as complete as possible. After all, if this is not correct it doesn’t matter how well you have adapted the communication plan.
Jorge Dominguez, PMP®