The man with the plan; the communication plan!

There is always communication!
When it comes down to change, it’s all about communication. Yet how often does one practice this in a decent manner? The first step is to realize that there is -always- communication! Let us say that we’re managing a restructure… Would you tend to hold communication off until you know everything? If so, did you think that people won’t talk amongst themselves? The ‘gossip’ is also communication, and it’s even communication that you cannot control! It happens because people do not like uncertainty and they will fill in the blanks with their own stories. Even though you want people to be creative, I don’t think this is the best situation to let them fantasize.

I love it when a plan comes together
“So we’ll start right off saying how it is!!!” Not quite… As the beginning is half of the action, you’ll need to create a plan. In management terms this is often referred to as a “Communication Plan”. Ongoing communication is an essential ingredient to any project or change. It’s a way to schedule and assign communication responsibilitie; Specify the audience, project topic, delivery date, delivery mechanism, sensitive issues, presenter/communicator, documentation source and expected result.

In essence it’s a spreadsheet like document with the following columns:

  • Date : When will the communication take place? In general your communication meetings will often be near your milestones/deliverables.
  • Delivered by : Who will communicate…
  • Audience : … and to whom?
  • Frequency : How often will this (re)occur?
  • Medium : Which medium will we use? (face 2 face, email, poster, …)
  • Sensitivities : Are their any things we need to keep in mind?
  • Expected Result : What’s our goal?

An example template for such a communication plan can be found @ gantthead. You need to register to obtain it though.

Sounds nice…
It does doesn’t it? 😉 It’s not too hard to actually manage, but bear in mind that it’s time-exhausting. Yet think about the situations where the product might have been superior, but it failed due to good communication (training, marketing, awareness, …). Something that might help you out to actually create this planning, is that you first do a Stakeholder Analysis: on a given iteam or as a listing.

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