How to Create a Project Communication Plan (With Template)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated February 3, 2023
Published November 5, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Maintaining communication among project stakeholders and team members is one of the most critical responsibilities of a project manager. A project communication plan is a document that can help you keep clients and employees informed about a project by distributing information through proper channels leading to improved productivity. In this article, we explain what a project communication plan is, discuss how to create an effective plan, explore why you may need one, define what makes a good one, discuss how to measure its effectiveness and share a template you can use.
What is a project communication plan?
A project communication plan explains how stakeholders share information throughout the duration of the project. This plan dictates which information a team member receives, how they receive it and how often to expect a message. A communication plan makes it easier for all stakeholders to work effectively toward a common goal. With such a plan, project managers can share periodic updates on meeting details and deadlines.
How to create an effective project communication plan in 7 steps
Here are seven steps you can take to create a communication plan that suits your project:
1. Identify key stakeholders
Project stakeholders involve all the individuals that participate actively in the project scheme. It can include clients, team leaders, employees, freelancers and other organizations. Identifying the key players within the project can make it easier for you to map out an effective communication strategy, as you know every party involved and their details.
2. Define the medium of communication
After creating a list of key stakeholders, define what medium or channel of communication works best. These channels allow team members to stay up-to-date and keep track of important information. When determining the medium of communication, consider the nature of the project, what communication methods the company already uses and how each channel influences productivity. For instance, while team members may communicate via texts, formal meetings or phone calls may work best for customers. Some communication channels you can use include:
Periodic physical meetings
3. Create a database of basic information
A communication database is a document that contains all the necessary details relating to the project. It includes information that clearly outlines the goals of the project. It also highlights the steps all team members can take to achieve them. Compiling all the details you need in one place can make it easier to access the information. Some basic information you can add to the database includes:
Key stakeholder email addresses
The company mission and vision statements
A brief explanation of the project deliverables
What are the responsibilities of each stakeholder
What medium of communication applies to specific departments
A communication database contains sensitive information about the project and the stakeholders involved. It's essential that only authorized employees have access to the information in the document. The project manager in charge can also assign different grades of authority depending on the level of the employee. For example, the manager could classify employees into viewers, commenters or editors.
4. Establish clear guidelines
Establishing clear and concise guidelines can make team communication more structured as they guide team members on the best practices for the project. Consider the following questions when creating guidelines for your project:
How should all members ask questions?
What channel works best for long and short-term strategy discussions?
Who is responsible for clients, how should they communicate with them, and how often should they reach out?
What can you use to measure the success of communication?
How often should all team members check in with each other?
5. Implement the plan
Create a comprehensive document with all the necessary information for team members. Explain the communication channels member can use and how often they can use them. Once you create the document, anyone can refer to it if they experience issues in the future or want to go over the plan again.
6. Encourage questions and feedback
Share the plan with all team members, spend some time explaining the details and encourage them to ask questions. It's vital that everyone understands the plan and is on board with the entire process. You can also encourage team members to give constructive feedback and express their concerns.
7. Run consistent reviews
Run consistent reviews on how much impact the plan is making. Collate feedback from different departments and make any necessary adjustments. You can seek feedback updates by running surveys at intervals. Create quantifiable goals that you can measure to get an accurate reflection of the impact of the communication plan.
Why do you need to create a project communication plan?
Effective communication can help ensure a more seamless project experience. To this end, a communication plan facilitates the exchange of information. It builds a sense of responsibility in employees, making it easier for everyone to know whom to reach out to when they face any issue or have questions.
A communication plan for project management can help keep your project on track because it:
Provides a clear definition of the tasks assigned to each team member
Generates written information that the group can consult
Establishes a timeline for when stakeholders would get updates.
Enhances stakeholders' awareness of the project's status
Allows stakeholders to provide input
Improves meeting productivity
Helps stakeholders collaborate
What makes a good communication plan?
An excellent communication plan usually includes the following:
A contact sheet containing every key stakeholder that highlights their roles and progress.
Areas of the project that require frequent communication. For example, corporate meetings and check-ins.
A schedule that keeps everyone informed.
A defined communication method and the frequency of communication.
Important information that can make communication more effective, like special requests from clients.
Measuring the impact of your project communication plan
Here are four questions you can use to evaluate the true impact of your communication plan:
Did all team members receive the message?
The first step is to find out if the team members involved received the message. Effective communication requires that all team members receive messages about the project. When team members receive prompt information, it may help them achieve results faster.
How quickly were they able to access the message?
Most projects are time-dependent and have several milestones and delivery dates to consider. To stay on track, communication between stakeholders needs to be prompt. The project manager can evaluate the communication channel and identify any issues that may affect meeting the deadline. Seamless communication can improve collaboration between team members.
Can the receiver understand the message?
When creating a communication plan, project managers may consider the recipients and how best to communicate with them. Asking questions to know if they understand the message or if there's a language barrier to consider can help you find more effective ways of communication. Communication is inclusive and accommodates all team members.
How quickly do team members respond?
A situation where a deadline moves forward or the concept behind a project changes may require immediate modifications. Having an effective communication plan may help your team respond to these changes faster, as they can receive prompt information on what to do. When team members can respond faster, it may increase team productivity.
Project communication plan template
A communication plan may vary depending on the type of project and the client involved. Here is a template you can use to create your project communication plan:
[Name of the project]
[Overall project goals]
[Key stakeholders involved. Draw an organogram for the project. It can detail the organization's hierarchy of command in relation to the project]
[Channels of communication]
[Schedule for events like meetings, calls and check-ins]
[Contact sheet including relevant social media handles and addresses]
[Roles and responsibilities of each team member]
[Status update report]
[Basic database. For example, name, title, contact address and roles assigned]
[What team member is responsible for which tasks]
[Timeline for consistent review. This may include a timeline for client review and task review]
[Client check-in timeline. Review questions such as When can the client review their work? How can they lodge their complaints? Who resolves it? What comes next?]
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