From defining communication objectives to identifying stakeholders and channels, use this template to schedule project communications and establish a feedback loop to keep everyone up to date. By formulating you communications plan in advance of the project you make sure that information will be disseminated clearly and correctly to whomever needs it.
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Why You Need a Communications Plan Template
Communications is the backbone of any project. That is, good communications. With this free communications plan template you can ensure that your communications are are clear and effective as possible.
This document describes the way you’ll communicate your messages so that they’re heard correctly and targeted to the proper party, who receives it in a timely manner or within the timeframe that you require.
Not only that, but a communication plan will note the goals, stakeholders and strategies, activities as they relate to communications, and the timeframes surrounding your communications.
Think of the communication plan template as a depository for your communications objectives, how you plan to bring about those objectives, in what timeframe and the effort involved to fulfill those goals and, finally, the metric to measure whether your successful.
There are various times to use your free communications plan template. For example, if you’re working on a large project, with many resources, vendors, managers, et al., then you’ll want a more structured delivery for communications. That way you’ll make sure everyone’s needs are being met.
The need for informal communications is also crucial to a project’s success. It’s smart to consider that as useful a tool as this communication plan template can be, there needs to be a line item in which you remember to talk informally with team members, stakeholders and even venders.
How to Use a Communications Plan Template
Now that you’ve downloaded your free communications plan template it’s time to put it to use in your project. While this document is ideal for larger projects, as communications on smaller ones are less complex, even if you’re working smaller, it’s good to get a handle on how to organize and run communications for when you do manage a larger project.
This section asks you to describe your communication plan in context to get buy-in from stakeholders and team members alike. Among the things you will address here are the vision and objectives, goals and timeframes, communication staff and tools, how to review of the effectiveness of your communications, including past efforts, why you need to formalize communications with a plan and what is the outcome of this process.
2. Situation Analysis
Here you address the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats inherent in the communications plan. Strengths can include where your team excels in communications, while the weaknesses note areas where communications are not being well-served. As for opportunities, they are areas you find that can be improved upon. A threat is a problem that can bring down the whole communication process. Make sure you’re clear on these four areas and record them out in detail here.
3. Lessons Learned
Now it’s time to sketch out a history of communications at your organization to get a picture of trends and how to support the positive and move away from the negative. Begin by listing the basic communications that have already taken place. How have these communications been made and to what extent were they successful. Finally, document what you’ve learned from this investigation.
You’ve outlined the background, now you want to move into the future and express what you will achieve with this communication plan.
Start with a simple list of your top-three objectives. Be sure that these are very specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely. You can remember this criteria with the acronym S.M.A.R.T.
Now that you’ve got objects, how are you going to achieve them? Guidelines to help you get out your communications will help. Make a list of how you want communications disseminated. That can included regular feedback or meetings, approval before sending, only communicating pertinent information, etc.
Make a list of the key personnel in the project by name, followed by their role and then the information they need to know. After that, you can indicate the frequency in which them should be communicated with. Have this list approved by the people on it to make sure you’ve gotten what they want and when they want it down correctly.
What are your key messages? Some regular communications for projects include: project status, project issues, project risk, project deliverables and project resources. These are markers that will be included in most of your communication messages.
8. Delivery Channels
By what mechanism will you disseminate your communications? What is the channel of preference of your target audience? It could be email or text or even printed matter, but find out what it is and use that access point which will in fact reach your reader.
9. Information Collection
Once you’ve decided on the channel, you’ll want to create a document that collects the information you will be sending off through this channel. Write the name of the channel, the information required, who the information provider is and the timeframe.
10. Communication Schedule
Now you’re ready for the communication plan, which starts with a schedule. You can create a schedule on a Gantt chart to visualize the frequency of communications, including meetings, newsletter, social events, conferences, seminars, alerts, etc.
11. Communication Events
Finally, you want to describe the events in your communication schedule in detail to help team members complete these events on time. So, number the events, name them, describe them, write what their purpose is, the frequency and then the date.
Communications is all it’s forms, from a structured plan throughout a project to as a foundational pillar of leadership, has been written about and has been the subject of video tutorials on ProjectManager.com.
Our site is not only a portal to great project management software tools, but a hub where professionals and novices alike can come to brush up on all aspects of leading a project, big or small, to a successful completion.
We have gathered a few of our favorite articles on communication planning and have collected them in the links below for those of you who would like some further reading. If you continue to be interested in the topic, visit ProjectManager.com/blog and have a look around!
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You’ve seen how important a communication plan is with the free template, but a template is only a static document. If you want to take your planning, tracking and reporting to the next level, then you want to engage with an online and collaborative project management software.
ProjectManager.com is cloud-based and accessible anywhere and at anytime. Our awarding-winning tools have been repeatedly ranked #1 by Gartner’s GetApp in their project management category. Built into the software are many ways to communicate individually and in group chats, tailored to reach only the people you want to speak with.
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