2.32 Communications Plan
Communication for more complex projects, particularly those with a larger or more dynamic stakeholder universe, often require more fulsome communication planning and management than the use of a simple Stakeholder Analysis and Planning Matrix affords. The Project Communication Plan is designed to meet the needs of these more complex communication challenges.
Stakeholder Analysis and Communication Planning Matrix
Analytical assistance from project team members and the project sponsor
A Project Communication Plan
Successful project managers understand their project stakeholders’ needs and expectations and shape project communications to directly address needs and expectations. Projects that neglect to do this or that do it poorly usually experience a greater or lesser degree of failure. Unmet stakeholder information needs, preconceived notions, and feelings of powerlessness often contribute to unhelpful stakeholder activities or attitudes including a widespread belief that the project either is or is destined to fail. The ultimate result can be withdrawing or withholding crucial resources and a self-fulfilling prophesied failure. To avoid these negative project results, project communication in some constellations of stakeholders require more detailed analysis and more aggressive management. It is such circumstances that the full Project Communication Plan is more appropriate than the basic Stakeholder Analysis and Communication Planning Matrix.
The basic procedure for completing the Communication Plan is the same as for the Stakeholder Analysis and Communication Planning Matrix. However, more detailed analysis and treatment of the following (highlighted) topics is called for:
1. Ask project sponsor to identify project stakeholders; canvas team members for help identifying project stakeholders; confirm preliminary list with sponsor and team members. Do not forget to identify project team members, the project sponsor, and managers of other operational areas as stakeholders.
2. Interview stakeholders identified on preliminary list. Provide a broad outline of why the project is being undertaken and what it hopes to produce. Ask them to identify the three most important things they would like to see result from such a project and their three most pressing concerns about the project as it is currently understood. Share your preliminary stakeholder list and ask them to identify other groups or individuals who they think will be affected by either the running of the project or its results. Ask them to characterize their present relationships with these other stakeholders. Set appropriate objectives related to this information in the Communications Objectives Section.
3. Analyze each stakeholder for the extent to which those things that are important to them (interests) are affected by the project (from direct to indirect) and the extent of their influence over the project, including the resources it will require (high to low). Enter the results of this analysis along with each stakeholder’s key interests in the matrix.
4. Identify the contribution the project needs from the stakeholder in order to succeed. Set appropriate objectives related to this information in the Communications Objectives Section.
5. Identify the key messages that each stakeholder should receive that speak directly to their interests and contribution.
6. Identify who will be primarily responsible for communicating with this stakeholder.
7. Identify the media that will be used to communicate the identified key messages to this stakeholder. Note more than one medium may be appropriate for communicating different kinds of messages to the same stakeholder. Note this information in the Media & Communication Vehicles Section.
8. Identify any barriers to effective communication with this stakeholder. They may, for example, not use a Blackberry or dislike SharePoint sites or rarely read their email. They may, as well, have a history that makes them skeptical of the motives or reliability of either the project team or other project stakeholders. Set appropriate objectives related to this information in the Communications Objectives Section.
9. Identify how you will overcome the identified barriers (motivators), particularly in light of the previous section.
10. Identify all required communication resources (these can be both special media and staff) and outline their use.
11. Finally, identify the frequency with which communication in the various identified media will be used to communicate with this stakeholder.
12. Pay attention to the feedback you receive to project communications; review and update the matrix if new stakeholders emerge, if it becomes apparent that certain communications are not being received or understood, and otherwise as required.
A completed Stakeholder Analysis Matrix should be appended to this plan.