Project Communications Management includes the processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information. It provides the critical links among people, ideas, and information that are necessary for success. Everyone involved in the project must be prepared to send and receive communications in the project “language” and must understand how the communications they are involved in as individuals affect the project as a whole. It is an overview of the following major processes:
Communications Planning—determining the information and communications needs of the stakeholders: who needs what information, when will they need it, and how will it be given to them.
Information Distribution—making needed information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner.
Performance Reporting—collecting and disseminating performance information. This includes status reporting, progress measurement, and forecasting.
Administrative Closure—generating, gathering, and disseminating information to formalize phase or project completion.
These processes interact with each other and with the processes in the other 0knowledge areas as well. Each process may involve effort from one or more individuals or groups of individuals based on the needs of the project. Each process generally occurs at least once in every project phase. Although the processes are presented here as discrete elements with well-defined interfaces, in practice they may overlap and interact in ways not detailed here.
Process interactions are discussed in detail in Chapter 3. The general management skill of communicating (discussed in Section 2.4.2) is related to, but not the same as, project communications management. Communicating is the broader subject and involves a substantial body of knowledge that is not unique to the project context. For example:
- Sender-receiver models—feedback loops, barriers to communications, etc.
- Choice of media—when to communicate in writing versus when to communicate orally, when to write an informal memo versus when to write a formal report, etc.
- Writing style—active versus passive voice, sentence structure, word choice, etc.
- Presentation techniques—body language, the design of visual aids, etc.
- Meeting management techniques—preparing an agenda, dealing with conflict, etc.
Communications planning involves determining the information and communications needs of the stakeholders: who needs what information, when will they need it, and how will it be given to them. While all projects share the need to communicate project information, the informational needs and the methods of distribution vary widely. Identifying the informational needs of the stakeholders and determining a suitable means of meeting those needs is an important factor for project success.