Project Communications Management

Knowledge Area Executive Summary

Communications Management PM-ProLearnThis Knowledge Area includes all of the processes necessary to ensure the information needs of the project and its stakeholders are met through the development of artifacts (documents or other communications) and exchange of information.  That’s the PMI® version…  Let me simplify it just a bit with the PM-ProLearn version.  This Knowledge area holds all of the processes to ensure that your project does not fail due to a miscommunication or misunderstanding.  According to PMI, practicing Project Managers spend up to 90% of their time communicating with stakeholders.  Communications Management and Stakeholder Management are inextricably linked.  Effective stakeholder management requires good communications management.

  • Process Groups Covered by Communications Management
    • Planning
    • Executing
    • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Processes in this Knowledge Area
    • Plan Communications Management
    • Manage Communications
    • Monitor Communications
  • Major or important ITTOs
    • Project Charter
    • PM Plan
    • Project Docs
    • Work Performance Reports
    • Work Performance Data
    • Communications Requirements Documents
    • Communications Technology
    • Communications Methods
    • Interpersonal and Team Skills
    • Data Analysis
    • Data Representation
    • Communication Skills
    • Project Reporting
    • PM Information System
    • Communications Management Plan
    • Project Communications
    • Work Performance Information
    • Change Requests
  • Critical concepts

Communications Management is more than just the three processes.  In order to have effective communication within your projects, you need to understand the various types of communications, all of which could be present within a single project.  The dimensions of communication include:

  • Internal
  • External
  • Formal
  • Informal
  • Hierarchical
  • Official
  • Unofficial
  • Written
  • Oral
  • Paralingual
  • Non-verbal

It’s also important to remember that most confusion in a project (whether about the project as a whole or one or many of its parts) comes from a lack of effective communication.  This doesn’t just include not communicating.  It also includes poor communication.  In oral communication, it can be a language barrier, using complex terminology, or leaving aspects of the needed information out.  Written communications can have ineffective aspects as well.  You can reduce confusion by using the 5C’s of writing communications:

  • Correct grammar & spelling
  • Concise expression
  • Clear purpose and expression
  • Coherent logical flow of ideas
  • Controlling the flow of words and ideas

So let’s move to the processes involved.  Our first process is Plan Communications Management. The output of this process is the Communications Management Plan and it will be your documented approach to effectively and efficiently engage the project stakeholders by presenting the relevant information in a timely manner.  The key here is to manage communications using the information and methods needed by the individual stakeholders.  The many tools and techniques of this process are used to facilitate appropriate communication throughout your project.  In this process, you will outline the technology to use (based upon a variety of factors), the frequency for communication, and the methods to be used.  This is where you find the most effective way to employ the communication model (shown below).

Communication Model

The next process, Manage Communications, is an Executing Process. This process enables efficient and effective information flow between the project team and the stakeholders.  It’s all about ensuring timely and appropriate collection, creation, distribution, storage, retrieval, management, monitoring, and the disposition of project information.  The output of this process is Project Communications.  In the opening paragraph, I talked about project artifacts.  The Project Communications are those artifacts.  These artifacts are performance reports, status reports, schedule and cost reporting, meeting minutes, or any other information required for stakeholder awareness.

The last process, Control Communications, is a Monitoring and Controlling Process.  The key benefit of this process is an optimal flow of information as defined in communications management and stakeholder management plans.  This ensures that the information needs of the project and the stakeholders are met.  Here we’ll take the Work Performance Data, Project Documents, and the PM Plan and analyze them to generate Work Performance Information.  This information shows how project communications are impacting the achievement of project objectives.  If any variances are noted, there may be a need to initiate a change request.

Knowledge Area Frequently Asked Questions

FAQQ: What is the primary difference between the Stakeholder Management Plan and the Communications Management Plan?

A: This question is a common one because of how closely linked Stakeholder Management and Communications Management are.  The simplest way to describe the difference between the two is to describe Stakeholder Management as understanding the different types of information that your stakeholders need and Communications Management as the planning and distribution of the information.  These two interact together very closely.  Using stakeholder analysis, you will understand the information needs of the stakeholder. Using those as Communication Requirements Documents, you can determine the methods, media, dimensions, and communication frequency in Communications Management.  You can also use both plans together to determine the best way to communicate with negative stakeholders and potentially increase their support for the project.

What to Memorize in this Knowledge Area

Communications Management requires an understanding of the processes, their tools and techniques, as well as the outputs.  You should also add the following list to your Brain Dump.

  • The amount of time PMs spend communicating in a project
  • Communications Dimensions
  • Communications Channels formula
  • Factors that affect the choice of Communication Technologies
  • Types of Communication Technologies
  • The Communication Model
  • Communication Methods

Memorize - Study

Knowledge Area Critical Reasoning & Testing Skills

Communication-1Q: You are the Project Manager for a project to redesign a corporate website that has been underway for six months.  You started the project with a team of 14 UX/UI designers and web programmers, the Marketing VP, and the senior Advertising Director.  You are now ready to update the content of the site and the Marketing Department has added a team of four content developers to update the information on the website.  How many new communication channels do you have in your project now?

  1. 120
  2. 70
  3. 272
  4. 74

EXPLANATION: This question is asking you to determine the variation between your project communication channels with the new team members.  This requires that you utilize the communication channels formula to determine how many channels you had before and after you added the content development team.  This question is worded in a way that makes you forget an important detail; you are also a member of this project.  Do not forget to include yourself in the calculations that you will be performing.  The mathematical work for this question is shown below to help us determine the answer.

Communication Channels Formula = (n(n-1))/2

Original Team New Team
UX/UI Developers = 14

Marketing VP = 1

Advertising Director = 1

You = 1

UX/UI Developers = 14

Marketing VP = 1

Advertising Director = 1

You = 1

Content Team = 4

Total = 17 Total = 21
(17(16))/2 = 136 (21(20))/2 = 210
210-136 = 74

Knowledge Area Closing Summary

Project Communications Management provides the framework for successful gathering and dissemination of information on your project.  As mentioned above, it is very closely linked with Stakeholder Management.  These two Knowledge Areas interact continuously from planning to completion of the project. While they are paired continuously throughout the project, you need to be able to determine where the lines are drawn between the two.  The instructors and staff at PM-ProLearn are ready to help you understand these intricacies and achieve success on both your projects and your PMP® exam.

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