A project communication plan is one of the most effective documents that helps companies keep everyone on the same page, and ensure that projects are completed on time.
Effective communication is critically important in the workplace, allowing employees to ask for feedback, make changes, and ensure that they communicate with relevant stakeholders.
Using a project communication plan can improve project management significantly, and minimize needless back-and-forth.
In this article, we’re going to discuss what a project communication plan is, provide a template, and show you how to use one effectively.
What is a Project Communication Plan?
Simply put, a project communication plan is a document that outlines how all stakeholders working on a project will communicate with each other.
It details the channels of communication, including what information to share, as well as specific milestones when information must be shared.
For instance, you can detail how you want employees to provide a status report. You can use a template to ensure that every report is streamlined.
The Importance of Using a Project Communication Plan
There are several reasons why you should consider using a project communication plan.
Establish Professional Boundaries
One of the main reasons why you should consider using a project communication plan is because it helps you establish professional boundaries with your stakeholders.
For instance, some members on the project may not like it if you call them incessantly, or contact them over mobile. They might prefer communicating over email.
Improve Asynchronous Workflows
Distributed teams often work asynchronously, with people working from different time zones on the same project. Obviously, you’ll want to receive status updates from everyone.
With a project communication plan, every member will know exactly when to provide updates, what format they have to use, as well as any key information that must be included.
Improve Communications and Planning
Most projects generally go through ups and downs. It’s important for teams to realign expectations, define milestones, and change them as necessary.
Maintaining transparency with one another is obviously very important. Not only that but making sure that the client receives regular updates is a key component to maintaining healthy relations.
A project communication plan can help you do just that. For instance, if one member is going to be unavailable for a while, they can let you know about it using the appropriate channels.
Because you’ll know in advance, it’ll become easier for you to redistribute the workload, or extend the deadline and then let the client know about the changes.
Key Components of a Project Communication Plan
Any successful project communication plan must include and define several key components. These include:
These are the primary members of the project who can serve as the main points of contact. For instance, the project manager is one, as they are generally in touch with the client.
When listing them, make sure you also include their contact details, such as email addresses or phone numbers.
If several teams are involved in the project, make sure you include the names of each member. List down the team members and their main duties, so everyone knows each other’s responsibilities.
For instance, if someone from the content team needs assistance from a designer, they can just check the communication plan to determine who to contact.
Modes of Communication
You will also want to outline all channels of communication that stakeholders must use. For instance, you can mention internal communication tools, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.
Other channels of communication include email, phone, or videoconferencing.
If you have any specific formats that you want team members to use, you can also mention those in the plan. For instance, when providing status updates, do you want employees to mention any blockers they may have faced?
Or, if you have a list of questions that you want them to answer, make sure to add those to the template.
Schedule for Meetings
Your project communication plan must also include a schedule for meetings. For instance, do you hold a meeting weekly? Or, will there be an all-hands meeting when a certain milestone is reached?
Make sure you include all of these details in your plan.
What’s the purpose behind the project communication plan? Why should people use it? It’s important to mention the communication goals in your plan so that everyone understands what you aim to achieve.
Project Communication Plan Template
Here’s a basic template that you can use to create your project communication plan.
Project Communication Plan
- Ensure that all parties remain informed about project timelines, budgets, or other changes
- Identify roadblocks and help team members overcome them
- Request feedback from stakeholders on specific deliverables
The project manager is [add name here].
You can reach out to them at [add contact details here].
|[Add responsible authority]
|Major milestones only
|[Add responsible authority]
|[Add responsible authority]
Meetings: Held online with relevant leads to review progress, discuss feedback, identify issues, and address questions. Key points to share:
- Work in progress
Email reports: Reports sent once a week outlining project progress. Key points to include:
- Client feedback
- Deliverables approved
- Revisions requested
- Important points to note
- Next steps
- Items pending review
This template is obviously customizable, so you can add or remove whatever you want. For instance, if you prefer, you can flesh out certain parts, such as including specific modes of communication for internal or external communication.
How to Prepare a Project Communication Plan
Here’s what you need to do if you want to prepare a project communication plan.
1. Create a Framework
The first step is to create a framework for your communication plan. It should include all the relevant details, such as the timeline for the project, the deliverables, the number of people involved, and any specific protocols that you want them to follow.
Decide all the important points that you want to include in your plan, including the communication styles that your team prefers, any client preferences, or the frequency of communication that you expect.
2. Define Your Goals
The next step is to define your goals; what would you consider successful project communication to be? Ideally, you should have a clear set of goals about how the plan should aid in project management.
3. Put it in Writing
Finally, it’s time to start preparing your communication plan. Make sure you keep your goals in mind when writing the plan, as that will impact its structure. Decide what approach you want to take, the frequency of meetings, and any other important details to include in your plan.
Improve Internal Communications with Atarim
Atarim is a visual collaboration tool that makes it easy for distributed teams to communicate with one other. It has built-in team management features, including the option to create Internal Tasks and communicate with team members through comments.
To learn more about this topic, check out the AMA Handbook of Project Management, which has an excellent chapter on managing project communications.