RYOGENS Toolkit


Workpackage: Internal and External Communications
1.       Description

Good communication is vital for the successful implementation of RYOGENS. This means
keeping people informed, eliciting and responding to their concerns, and involving them at
every stage in the implementation. Communication must be two-way process. Effective
communication will support effective change management: there will be fewer barriers to
implementing change, fewer misunderstandings and stronger stakeholder support.

Communications activities fall into two categories:

    External communications - with stakeholders
    Internal communications - within the project team.

External communication planning and activities should ensure that key stakeholder groups
understand and accept:

    the need for change - why we are implementing RYOGENS;
    the proposed solution - what we are going to do; and
    the consequences of the proposed change - ie what it will mean for me.

Internal communication planning should provide for regular, efficient sharing of information
and views. Good internal communications will strengthen your team, enhance morale and
avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

2.       Aims and Objectives

#     Aims and Objectives

1.    The purpose of the communications workstream is to inform, and seek views from, the
      project team, key stakeholders and leadership champions so as to secure the buy-in
      needed for successful implementation.
2.    To achieve this, it is necessary to communicate with a variety of external audiences,
      including end users, management and end customers, and to use an appropriate
      method of communication for each audience.
3.    It is necessary to allocate the responsibility for communications to a project team
      member and ensure that at each stage in the implementation, communications are
      driven by business need and integrate with change management activities.

3.       Approach

For effective communications, plan at the start of the project and update the plan in the light
of experience. Deal with internal and external communications separately.

For internal communications, agree regular methods of taking stock and solving problems
within the project team. Weekly meetings are useful and the team may want to schedule
workshops at key stages in the project to plan future activities and learn lessons. Establish a
practical way of sharing project documents and resources, eg through a team intranet site.

The external communications plan will identify the desired outcomes of communication at
each phase in the RYOGENS implementation for each stakeholder group (eg conveying
information, eliciting views, securing agreement) and the messages and best communication
media to achieve those outcomes.

Communication should be frank about the challenges and costs of implementation. If you
only ever give good news, people will become sceptical. By recognising potential problems
and by explaining the reasons and ultimate benefits, good communication will prevent false
rumours, misunderstanding and resentment.

3.1       Prerequisites

Communications should be part of the project from day one through to completion. It should
be the aim of the earliest communications activities to achieve the following prerequisites,
which will then form a sound platform for communications throughout the life of the project:

     Develop project vision and scope – a simple, powerful statement of what the project aims
      to achieve. It should unite and inspire and the project team and be a foundation for
      stakeholder communications.
     Identify and target leadership champions – to ensure they understand the benefits the
      project can offer and that you understand any concerns they have.
     The Stakeholder Analysis workpackage will have identified priority stakeholder groups.
     On a practical level, the team will need a central project office with internet access to co-
      ordinate good internal communications and as a base for developing external
      communication efforts.

3.2       Activities

The following steps are recommended. This is not necessarily a consecutive list of actions:
some may occur simultaneously and many need to be repeated through the life of the project.


     Decide on a project team member to take the lead on Communications.
      Agree what that individual’s role and responsibilities will be. The individual will need to
      work closely alongside the team member responsible for change management, or in a
      small team, the same person might do both.

     Develop internal and external Communication Plans.
      The Communication Plan outlines all activities necessary through the project to keep
      practitioners and end-users informed and engaged. The communications plan matches
      the different audience groups with the messages they need to hear, when and through
      what communication channels (email, newsletters, meetings, workshops, interviews etc).
      Where appropriate, the plan should cover communicating how RYOGENS
      implementation will complement and fit with other planned or current changes.

      Update the external communications plan throughout the project as the team’s knowledge
      of stakeholder views improves (eg through the change readiness survey - see Change
      Planning workpackage) and as project benefits and outcomes become clearer. Seek
      feedback - at each phase, find out whether the communications have been effective and
      ask how they could be improved. As the project proceeds, learn from successes and
      failures. Example communication plans and further guidance on can be found in sections
      4 and 5 of this document.

     Set up mailing list and contacts.
      At the start of the project, compile a list of the names and contact details of all
      practitioners involved in the project. Update and add to this contact list as the project
      proceeds. The project manager might also want to record project team interactions with
      key stakeholders, to better manage and co-ordinate relationships with them.


   Hold a mobilisation event to kick off the project and engage with practitioners. In the
    RYOGENS pilot, a mobilisation event was attended by practitioner representatives from
    the envisaged core agencies as well as the project manager, programme board chair
    and leadership champions. During the day we ran a series of workshops to involve
    practitioners in the planning of the project. These included a session to develop the
    vision and scope of the project and a communications session to brainstorm the most
    effective means of communication for the project. The feedback from the day was
    gathered and incorporated into the various planning deliverables – project plan,
    communications plan and the vision and scope statement.

   Hold regular team meetings to update team members on progress and problems and to
    plan immediate priorities (Team Structure and Mobilisation Work package). It is also
    recommended that the project board meet on a monthly basis to resolve escalated
    issues, sign-off final deliverables and gain a status update from the project manager.

   Develop knowledge sharing structures to disseminate information, news, issues and
    views within the project team. In the pilot the team used an online repository for project
    documentation and deliverables accessible for approved users through a password and
    set up group email lists for the team.


   Communicate Vision and Scope Statement to all stakeholders, through meetings,
    interviews and initial communications (leaflets, website, newsletters, posters).

   Develop an initial presentation outlining the context and scope of RYOGENS to use
    when meeting practitioners for the first time to gain their buy-in to the project. Example
    presentation slides used during the pilot can be found in section 5 of this document.

   Set up a Reference Group to capture views, lessons from previous projects and interest.
    In the RYOGENS pilot, the Reference Group brought together NGOs, experts and
    individuals from central and local government who had ideas to contribute or wanted to
    know more about RYOGENS. The Reference Group was sent a monthly newsletter and
    a series of workshops throughout the project gathered their views and opinions.

   Develop and update a project website to give an overview of the project, progress
    updates and notice of forthcoming events. For new RYOGENS implementations, it may
    be useful to set up a page on the council intranet site dedicated to RYOGENS.

   Develop Communications materials to ensure consistent messages. A set of
    standard communications materials can be tailored as necessary for different audiences.
    Project contact details should be included on all communications. Examples of different
    communications materials that worked well during the pilot were:

        -   Monthly newsletters – giving an update on the status of the project. These
            were produced in electronic format and were emailed to the project team and
            made available on the website for wider stakeholders.

         -   Leaflets – for use at conferences, workshops and meetings as a general
             introduction to RYOGENS. During the pilot, a number of different leaflets were
             produced to target various audience groups. These included:

                    a RYOGENS leaflet which was updated during the course of the project;
                    local leaflets to inform local practitioners of the project context; and
                    a local kids and parents leaflet to address concerns the general public
                     may have about the solution.

             Examples of all of these can be found in section 5 along with a guidance
             document on producing such leaflets.

            Posters – to advertise the project to both the general public and practitioners.
             These can be put up in schools, one-stop shops; meeting rooms etc to give
             people a taste of the project with contact details if they wish to find out more.

            Fictional case studies illustrating how the system would work.

            Frequently asked questions

    Attend local staff meetings and away days

    Attend national conferences

    Join in with local road shows. In the pilot project, Warwickshire County Council ran a
     series of local road shows at the beginning and end of the project. These covered high
     level strategic plans for information sharing and the prevention of youth crime. The
     RYOGENS project fitted the agenda for both of these and was given its own stand.

    Talk to end-users/ clients. Once the system is live, speak to the frontline practitioners
     to see how effective they feel it is and to ask what could be improved. Most of these
     views will be captured as part of the evaluation and monitoring exercise. Second, speak
     to children and young people to address their concerns and ensure they feel their views
     are being heard. Young people can and should have a voice. During the pilot Lewisham
     produced an advocacy paper outlining how to involve the family to build trust.

4.       Deliverables

    Example: Local communication Plan (Tower Hamlets)
    Example: National Communications framework
    Example: External Communication Plan

5.       Other Related Materials

    Example: RYOGENS National Leaflet
    Example: Lewisham practitioners RYOGENS leaflet
    Example: Lewisham kids and parents leaflet
    Guidance: Developing kids and parents leaflets
    Example: Bellingham (Lewisham) Children’s Panel Leaflet
    Example: Leaflet design brief
    Example: Warwickshire practitioner leaflet
    Guidance: Developing a communications plan
    Example: Lewisham advocacy paper
    Deploy and Implement – Example: FAQs and Frequently raised objections (User
    Example: RYOGENS presentation slides
    Example: Rolling presentation
    Example: Internal Communications protocol
    Example: Lewisham Communications briefing pack
    Example: Newsletter

    Vision and Scope Statements workpackage
    Leadership Champions workpackage
    Practitioner Buy-in workpackage
    Change Planning workpackage
    Team Structure and Mobilisation workpackage
    Monitor and evaluate workpackage

6.       Review Point Checklist

       Have you allowed enough time for communications?
       Have you identified the key messages for your key audiences?
       Have you identified the best methods of communication for each audience group?
       Have you nominated a member of the project team to be in charge of
       Have you developed a communications plan?

7.       Learning from the pilots

The following lessons were drawn from the RYOGENS pilots:

    A kick off mobilisation event out of the office with project team and senior practitioners
     worked well to engage everyone’s interest and support and to build team spirit. After this
     2 day event, we had discussed and agreed the project scope and vision and clarified
     roles and responsibilities so that the project team were able to “hit the ground running”.

    Weekly project team meeting and monthly project board meetings maintained momentum
     and kept everyone informed of progress and problems.

    Allow sufficient time for change management and communications. Build trust early on
     with key practitioners - give them an opportunity to voice concerns and ensure they know
     their opinions are. Leadership champions need to be visible from the start.

    The Change plan and communications plan need to be complementary and the
     importance to project success of both change management and communications should
     be taken seriously from the onset. See the change planning work package.

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