Successful projects run on effective communication. That’s why a communication plan is so important.
Let’s take a closer look at what a project communication plan is and how and why you should implement one for your projects.
What’s a project communication plan?
A project communication plan is a simple tool that enables you to communicate effectively on a project with your client, team, and other stakeholders. It sets clear guidelines for how information will be shared, as well as who’s responsible for and needs to be looped in on each project communication.
Why a project communication plan is important
As the project manager, you’ve already mapped out every task and deliverable to get you across the finish line. Why not do the same for project communications? After all, your project plan needs a steady stream of communication to stay on track.
A communication plan plays an important role in every project by:
Creating written documentation everyone can turn to
Setting clear expectations for how and when updates will be shared
Increasing visibility of the project and status
Providing opportunities for feedback to be shared
Boosting the productivity of team meetings
Ensuring the project continues to align with goals
Project team communication methods
There’s no single right way to communicate on a project. In fact, your communication plan can and should include a variety of communication methods. Here are a few to consider:
So how do you know what’s right for the project? Review past projects to see what worked well—and what didn’t. Then talk to your team, client, and other stakeholders to ensure you take their communication styles into account. After all, a weekly email’s no good if no one reads it!
Ready to put your communication plan to paper? Writing a project management communication plan is as simple as following these 5 steps:
List your project’s communication needs. Every project is different. Take the size of the project, the nature of work being done, and even the client’s unique preferences into account as you determine which types of communication this project needs to succeed.
Define the purpose. Bombarding people with too many emails or unnecessary meetings can interfere with their ability to get work done and cause them to overlook important updates. Be purposeful in your plan, and ensure every communication you include has a reason for being. If you’re feeling really ambitious, go ahead and outline a basic agenda for the topics that will be covered in each meeting or report.
Choose a communication method. Do you really need a meeting to share weekly updates, or is your project discussion board enough? Think through how your team works best, so they can stay in the loop while still being productive. If your client prefers the personal touch of a phone call, build that into your plan too.
Set a cadence for communication. Establishing a regular frequency for communication streamlines the process by setting clear expectations from the get-go. This not only frees you from fielding random requests for status updates. It also enables project members to carve out space for important meetings and reports ahead of time.
Identify the owner and stakeholders. Assigning ownership creates accountability so your carefully crafted plan can reach its full potential. As the project manager, you’ll be responsible for most communications, but there may be some you want to delegate to others. While you’re naming names, list the audience or stakeholders for each communication type too. That way key players come prepared to provide updates when needed.
Project communication plan examples and template
You know your team and stakeholders best, so how you organize the details is up to you. Just be sure it’s easy to understand. These examples show you 3 different options for structuring the same communication plan.