Communication Management Approach
The Communication Management Approach is one of the four approach (guideline) documents created at the start of the project by the project manager and is then used by the project manager as a guideline on how to communicate with stakeholders (both internal and external to the project) during the project. So this document contains such information as: the different types of stakeholder in the project, whether they support or oppose the project, the type (format) of information to communicate, when and how often to communicate, etc. In other words the Communication Management Approach facilitates engagement with stakeholders through the establishment of a controlled and bi-directional flow of information.
Sample Communication Management Approach Document
This is taken from the PRINCE2 Sample Project (The Pen Project) and it gives a good example of how to use the Communication Management Approach product. Note the following sections:
- Communication Procedure: this is light and easy to understand
- Tools and Techniques: The Project Manager will use an internal portal for internal stakeholders and another approach for external stakeholders
- Records: See a list of all reports (PRINCE2 products) used to communicate
- Timing of communication activities: Only the Project Manager is mentioned for now and the Sale Manager could also be mentioned
- Reports/ Stakeholder Matrix: This is filed in after one of more facilitated workshops. It gives a good simple overview of all communication, how and frequency.
- Roles & Responsibilities: The Sales Manager can also be added here
- Stakeholder Analysis: This section goes together with the “Reports/ Stakeholder Matrix” section.
Source data for the Communication Management Approach
The Communication Management Approach is derived from the following sources:
- The Corporate communications policies as some organaisation have very specific rules about communicating to external stakeholders
- The programme’s information management strategy is this exists
- The project orgaisation (who is who in the project at the management and board level)
- The other approach documents (Risk, Quality and Change Control)
- Facilitated workshops are used to do a stakeholder analysis can create a stakeholder matrix
The format of the Communication Management Approach is usually as stand-alone product (word/PDF document) and is part of the Project Initiation Documentation. It can have other formats too.
Quality Criteria for Communication Management Approach
- All stakeholders types have been identified and this is normally done using facilitated workshops
- Stakeholders types are asked about their communication requirements (e.g., format, frequency)
- An agreement with the stakeholders about the content, frequency and method of communication
- The Project Manager can also propose a common standard for communication
- The Project Manager should make a note to take the necessary time to carry out the identified communications in each of the following Stage Plans
- The formality and frequency of communication is tailored to suit the project’s importance and complexity
- If part of a programme, the lines of communication should be very clear between the project and programme.
Content of the Communication Management Approach document
What does the Communication Management Approach document contain? It contains a description of the means and frequency of communication to internal & external parties. This can also include the Programme Management if the project is part of a programme. The Project Manager is responsible for creating the Communication Management Approach during the Initiation Phase of the project. This should be reviewed during the Managing a Stage Boundary Process to ensure that key stakeholders are receiving the required communication.
The Communication Management Approach document contains the following information:
- An introduction to remind the reader on the purpose of the document for this project.
- Communication Procedure: A description of the communications methods that will be used, such as electronic mail, meetings, and presentations.
- Tools & techniques, such as e-mail, internet, newsletter.
- Reporting: Types of reports and the information they should contain.
- Timing states when communication activities will be done.
- Roles & Responsibilities: Who will handle the communication?
- Stakeholder Analysis: Type of Stakeholder and the desired relationship with Stakeholder.
- Information Needed: Information required from project, including the frequency of the communication and the format of it.
You may be thinking, “Another management document to create?” Well, if you work in a programme environment or have worked on a similar project, then you would already have a template to work from; this can be customized to suit your project.
Some tips from Frank
- Ask the programme for an update-to-date Communication Management Approach template
- The Project Manager should get support from an experienced facilitator for the stakeholder analyses workshops if they are not used to doing this.
- The stakeholder analyses workshops should not be rushed
- The Communication Management Approach should be updated if needed during the project