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Planning your Project Communications – Who, What, Where….etc

When Bruce Taylor and I wrote the Project Management Communications Bible back in 2008, one of the key parts of that book, that really never got the love it deserved was the planning sections for each of the tools. A key part of project planning is planning your communication tools you are going to use on your projects. See if you are not planning your communications, then you are spending time creating communication tools that may or may not be valuable to your project. 

Let me explain, in the book when we first introduce the communication tool (say project charter), we thought project managers could go through a series of planning questions around that tool that would help them understand how to use it better. Those questions included, Who, When, Why, How, What…etc. There were 10 questions noted for every tool.

Let’s relook at some of these planning questions now. 

Let’s start with the Project Charter and the planning questions you would ask before starting to use this tool. 

Planning your Project Communications - Who, What, Where....etc

Project Charter Planning Questions:

  1. When would the development of the project charter occur?
    A: During the initiation process (phase) of the project
  2. Who is going to use this tool, both from an input and output status?
    A: Upper management, owners, executives, project manager, team member, subcontractors, media
  3. Why are you going to use this tool?
    A: To communicate the scope, goals, and objectives of the project
  4. How are you going to use this tool?
    A: Upper Management will use the document to decide whether to proceed with the project, determine cost estimates, determine schedule estimates, determine proposed solutions and determine needs, Project Manager will use it as an authorization to acquire the team members and utilize the budget allocated to the project
  5. How will you distribute the information?
    A: Document format such as Microsoft Word, document control system, e-mail, in-person presentation
  6. When will you distribute the information?
    A: When selling the project to upper management or customers who need to approve the project, project kick-off meeting, on-demand
  7. What decisions can or should you make from this tool?
    A: Upper Management or customers make go/no go decision on the project, schedule decisions, cost decisions, resource and scope decisions; making all these from the tool
  8. What information does this tool provide for your project?
    A: The project charter provides an idea of how long it may take, how much it may cost, identify technical challenges, comparisons of similar projects, if applicable
  9. What historical and legal information do you need to store?
    A: Decisions on why the project was approved or rejected and lessons learned information
  10. What will be the staffing requirements (Role Type) to run and maintain these tools?
    A: Customer or sponsor, senior management, possibly the project manager.

If you are looking for a whole set of project communication tools, like this project charter and many-many others from our latest book Project Management Communication Tools, I invite you to check out the templates I sell here on my store. Project Management Communication Tools Templates.  For less than a coffee, you are getting over 50 templates ready to use on your projects and saving you hours and hours of hassle. 

What do you think?

Do you think planning your project communication tools like this Project Charter is valuable? Do you think spending the time and answering these questions and planning your communication tools is valuable? Interesting right, so many project managers want to just start using the tools, and I think it is critical to spend the time and plan. Imagine how much time you will save? 

If you like this article, I am excited to share this one as well, I think you will love it. Check it out there: What are the Top Project Management Communication Tools for 2021?

Bill Dow, PMP

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Bill Dow, a PMP-certified expert in Project Management Offices (PMOs), has co-authored books on the subject. With over 20 years of teaching experience and having built 10 PMOs across 4 companies, including 13 years at Microsoft, he currently serves as the PMO Director at the University of Washington Medical.

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