We talk a lot about how to build plan communications: the actual reports, visuals, etc. that you will present over the lifetime of your initiative. But what about the Communications Plan? …These are two different things that together encompass how you communicate during an initiative.
The Communications Plan is so important to the overall success of projects that we’d even like to suggest that it be a part of your performance metrics.
While the elements of your Communications Plan need to eventually be included in your overall project plan, our experience tells us the Communications Plan itself should be created as a matrix that covers:
- Who needs to be communicated to (stakeholders)
- When they need to receive communications (may be multiple times over the course of the initiative)
- What information they need to receive
- The mechanism in which they need to receive it
- What level of responsibility each stakeholder has for each communication
Below is a screen shot (click to enlarge) of this sample Communications Plan matrix.
The RACI (Reviewer-Author-Consumer-Information Only) portion of the grid is what would drive actual line-items into your project plan, in that this is what assigns actionable items to specific individuals. A and R items will require someone to actually do something, and therefore will require a trackable line item in the overall plan.
This matrix is something that would plug nicely into a refined and detailed Communications Plan (think wordy-Word document) that will provide the project team and stakeholders with a comprehensive reference guide for how communications will be created and flow before, during, and after the project.
This matrix is obviously something that could be built upon. The size and complexity of your Communications Plan is likely going to be as large and complex as your project.
Your Communications Plan should cover just about every detail of communications that will occur during your project. Content and communications that are carefully planned can be carefully crafted and executed.
Ultimately the goal of good communications is to make sure everyone is properly informed. If, in the end, someone feels surprised or doesn’t get the information they needed and that can be traced back to poor planning and execution, the burden may rest on your shoulders.