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Project Communications – Keeping Stakeholders Informed
By Claudio Locicero

Communication of project status to project stakeholders must be performed continuously throughout the project’s lifecycle to ensure that everyone has current information. A communications plan should be part of an overall project plan and the types of exchanges identified in that plan may consist of the following:

  • Project Status Reports
  • Project Budget Reports
  • Quality Assurance Reports
  • Cost Variance Reports
  • Schedule Variance Reports
  • Resource Utilization/Projection Reports
  • Change Control Documents
  • Risk Assessments
  • Open Issues/Action Items Reports
  • Weekly Project Status Meeting Agenda and Minutes

The communications plan should also outline the following key components:

  • Recipients of each report
  • Method of delivery of reports to each recipient (email, letter, etc)
  • Frequency of delivery of each report to those recipients (daily, weekly, etc)
  • Individual responsible for preparing and distributing each report

Practical reporting would primarily be considered scheduled project status reports without significant issues. Interim reports may be considered unscheduled, yet required due to a significant issue which requires immediate attention. Project stakeholders dislike surprises and in the event of extremely significant circumstances, that information should be communicated immediately, particularly if it may have a negative impact on the project.

A conceivable justification for an interim report would be the identification of a faulty part that necessitates contacting a supplier for replacement and the delay may affect the project timeline. Other possible scenarios could be having to contact the Internet service provider due to a failed communications link to corporate headquarters which is affecting project productivity or the necessity to request additional funding due to new project requirements that recently came to light (scope creep).

Project sponsors, clients, and other stakeholders usually do not require an equal level of reporting detail as compared to project team members, but they still need to be aware of progress and problems. The method of communication also may depend on who the recipient is and the reason for the communication. Communicating certain information via email may be inappropriate and the project manager could determine, based on criticality or sensitivity, that it would be best to present it in person to the stakeholder. Managing the communications requirement of a project requires a clear understanding that without effective communication between all stakeholders, additional elements of risk are introduced which could affect successful completion of the project within its allocated budget and timeline.

Written by Claudio LoCicero, M.S.

Over his career he has held several technical and management positions both in the United States and overseas within the private and government sectors.

He holds a Master of Science in Information Technology with an Information Security Specialization from a university designated as a National Security Agency Certified Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance. He also holds numerous professional certifications such as the Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation, along with several other professional certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, and the National Security Agency (NSA).

He is an active member of the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), and the Project Management Institute (PMI).

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