During the project start up and initiation phases consideration should be given to communication and information flow needs. By conducting a communication needs analysis you will be able to prepare a communication plan as a subsidiary to the main project plan. The plan will reflect the specific needs and complexity of the project and therefore may be formal or informal, highly detailed or broadly structured. As with all other planning documents prepared at the start of the project, the communication plan is a live document and should be subject to regular review and revised when necessary to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the project and its stakeholders.
How communication is planned and managed will inevitably be influenced by the broader organisational structure and existing communication channels. Every organisation has its own preferred methods of communication and it is important to understand them. It is not a good idea to send out formal memoranda in an organisation that has long since moved from paper to email communications. Likewise, the use of emails may be less than effective with people such as porters or cleaners who may not have regular access to the organisation’s email system or with people who cannot be relied upon to read their email (you probably already know who they are in your organisation). In the education sector our activities are underpinned by mature and long established frameworks of committees and scheduled meetings. This will have a major effect on the project’s communication requirements. With any kind of regular report it is worth thinking about, and specifying, the level of detail required. This might be ‘six bullet points’ or ’20 pages with detail’ or ‘an email to let me know it’s finished’. People are much happier to undertake something they know will be what is expected.
JISC infoNet aims to be the UK’s leading advisory service for managers in the post-compulsory education sector promoting the effective strategic planning, implementation and management of information and learning technology.