What do you think a project manager is doing most of the time during a project? You may be surprised to know that a project manager spends up to 90% of his or her time communicating and 50% of that time is spent communicating with the project team. So communication management becomes an important part of a project’s life cycle.
So what is involved in communication management? Isn’t it just a few emails here and there to coordinate the project? No, it involves so much more and I will briefly go through the most important part of this particular knowledge area.
One major misconception some also may have is that the project manager should control all the communication in a project; that every single e-mail or conversation be filtered through them. That’s not what communication management is all about. That shows a lack of control in my opinion. Instead, the project manager should be in control of the communication process.
The key to controlling the communication process is a strong communication management plan, adhering to it, and controlling and monitoring it regularly. The plan contains how often communications will be distributed and in what format. It also explains what kind of information will be included and finally who should receive these communications. This way stakeholders know what to expect in regards to the communications they are going to receive including when and how.
One of the most important pieces of communication the project manager will provide is the project performance report. This report will let the stakeholder know how the project is progressing against the plan. The report will include variances in schedules and cost, forecasted completion, quality control measures, and approved change requests that affect the project baselines. The report is usually submitted on a weekly basis and it keeps all stakeholders informed about all the key elements of the project’s performance.
Another important aspect of communication management is to manage the stakeholders. It involves keeping them informed during the project using performance reporting as mentioned above, but also arranging the kick-off meeting at the start of the project to bring the team together and discuss the project plan. The project manager will also arrange meetings with the steering committee, key stakeholder, and the project team at different times and places as needed.
So communication management is far more than a few emails and phone calls. It is a series of tasks that continue through the entire lifecycle of the project and requires the project manager to be in control of the process to keep the project on track.