Project Management Best Practice: Communications Management

Communications Management

Project Management Best Practice: Communications Management

By Linky Van Der Merwe

Project communications management is a topic that is close to my heart. When it comes to best practices, communications is probably the main piece of the puzzle for running successful projects. I know that it has been one of the best reasons for my track record of successful delivery.

It is an accepted fact that communications will take up approximately 90% of a project manager's time. This is the reason why I always start with project communications management as a best practice. Excellent communication skills are at the top of the list of requirements for a skilled project manager.

What is project communications management?

In theory it is about appropriate generation, collection, storage and distribution of project information. During the project planning it requires determining the information and communications needs of stakeholders, during execution it is about distributing the information in a timely manner, doing status reporting and progress measurement, during closure it is about gathering information to formalize project completion.  How is all of this applied in practice?

This is where you must pay special attention...

When is project communications management a best practice?

For project communications management to be used as a best practice, it needs to be applied in a regular, consistent manner throughout the life cycle of a project, from initiation, to planning, during execution, controlling and closing. It must be done to the point where it becomes a routine task on the project. It keeps all stakeholders informed and gives them the re-assurance that the project is in good hands. (That is what project managers are paid for, not true?)

Project communications management in 4 simple steps

1. Communications management needs to be planned for:

Who needs what project information?

When do they need it?

How will the information be given?

By whom?

Document in your plan which information will be written, which will be oral (progress meetings, presentations), whether it is formal or informal. How will information be stored and distributed. The communications management plan is part of the overall project plan and can be as simple as a one-page communications matrix to a detailed communications plan depending on the size and complexity of the project.

2. How will information be distributed?

Information distribution is about making information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner. It deals with how the information will be stored, shared and exchanged (written, oral, internal, external, formal and informal, etc)

3. Report on performance

Performance reporting is to provide stakeholders with information about status, progress and forecasting. It generally provides information on scope, schedule, cost and quality, as well as on risk and procurement where applicable.

4. Project is done and how do you communicate that?

Project administrative closure is a much neglected aspect of Project communications management, but this is where project results are reviewed and documented, success is analyzed, and where lessons learned are discussed and archived.

Make project communications management your strong point

Following this project communications management best practice, will lead to a well-structured project and a consistent performance by the project manager. By practicing this important skill you will ensure that you are well on your way to becoming an efficient project management professional.

And now I would like to invite you to view more project management articles giving you best practices and project tools to use to manage your own projects successfully. Useful for aspiring and existing project managers.

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By Linky Van Der Merwe, Founder of Virtual Project Consulting

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