A project communication plan is a document designed to streamline the communication process throughout project development.

Whether you’re managing internal development, working with a vendor to implement a solution or servicing a customer, effective communication is vital to project success. Effective communication can be facilitated by creating a project communication plan.

This document answers three simple questions, with varying levels of complexity: Who needs to be included in communications during project development? What information needs to be conveyed? How will this be accomplished?

An effective communication plan contains these basic elements:

  • A short summary of the project
  • Communication objectives
  • Method of communication
  • Information distribution structure
  • Information storage methods
  • Costs
  • Stakeholder signatures

Who?

The project communication document details all stakeholders, management, customers and team members that require information in order to complete a project. Identify everyone who needs to receive information to ensure that no one is left ‘out of the loop’. Include a signatory line for each stakeholder to formally give consent to the plan.

What?

Make sure everyone knows the project’s objective and the methods of communication planned to inform those involved as the process unfolds. Determine the most important information. A glut of information and related details can cause frustration on the receiving end.

Try not to be redundant. On the other hand, communications that do not provide the necessary information might set off a chain of wasteful explanations, otherwise avoided by effective communication. Structure the content of the communication in such a way that it doesn’t overload the readers, or leave them scratching their heads.

Detail the costs for the communication plan. Ensure that this information is communicated upfront. This will prevent unpleasant surprises and ensure that the communication plan is fully equipped to perform.

How?

In our communications-dominated age, information overload is a problem for everyone. Emails can be easily overlooked or misunderstood by the end-user. Try using a variety of communication methods to convey your message(s), such as email, text, PowerPoint and in-person meetings to make sure those on the other end absorb the message.

Set up a structure that designates the individuals who must be present for big decision-point meetings, and, just as importantly, who do not. Make sure that information is conveyed in an effective format. Efficient document management procedures can help ensure that you have the information at hand that needs to be communicated.