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Project Management - Development of a Communications Plan

Project management concepts and processes are being implemented in the strategic planning of service and operational processes. The technique involves re-engineering processes with new and innovative ideas and therefore more effective, productive, and efficient ways of doing business.

To realize the comprehensive business goals of the project, management must adapt to the market dynamics, maintain operations, and functionality of the organization, implement continuous process improvement, and seek customer satisfaction.

The purpose of this article is to offer insight to Project Managers as to how to develop a Communications Plan. In order to achieve this learning, this Communication Plan is established to monitor the launching of a fictional, locally owned and operated Weight Loss Center headquartered in the Denver Technological Center (DTC) area of Centennial, Colorado.

It will begin with an overview and analysis of the DTC project, including the ingredients for project success. It will provide suggestions for a forecast of the time required to complete the project. It will conclude with the project closure process.


Communications Plan

The main objective of the communication plan is to maximize the probability of successful project realization; define work-packages, feedback frequency, and passive or active reporting. In layman's terms, it will facilitate communication of the right information, to the right people, at the right time.

To manage effectively across the organization, acute awareness regarding the interdependency of departments, partnerships, culture, and subcultures is critical. A Communication Plan benefits stakeholders by supplying relevant information in order to ensure their continued buy-in and support.

The Communications Plan for the DTC project will include four headings:

  • Deliverables
  • What Will Be Accomplished
  • Feedback Approval
  • Frequency


Suggested Deliverables regarding office space, would include such action items as:

  • Contacting an attorney
  • Selecting a Commercial Real Estate Broker/Agent
  • Hiring a contractor
  • Contracting a web designer
  • Installation of computers, telephones, etc.


Under the heading of 'What Will Be Accomplished', possible inclusions would be:

  • Attorney will analyze, prepare, and finalize lease, etc.
  • Commercial Real Estate Broker/Agent will search for space that meets budget and demographic criteria.
  • Compare Denver's average leasing costs for 1000 sq. ft., 1200 sq. ft. and 1500 sq, ft.
  • Interview 3 contractors
  • Contractor will remodel office space to specifications
  • Walls, flooring, add electrical outlets, upgrade bathrooms, build shelves,paint, etc.
  • One service provider for 6 phones, email, 1 fax machine, 1 printer, 1 copier, key system, & Internet access.
  • Compare pricing/services for @10 pages of web design and implementation
  • Finalize design
  • Feedback/Approval would be presented with a simple 'Yes' or 'No'.


Frequency

The Communication Plan serves to maintain a straightforward understanding of the process to be followed, content of updates, frequency of updates, and an assessment of project management tools employed. Frequency could be numerical, date-specific, or it may be upon completion of a specific event.

An event that has reached completion may require endorsement or signing of a deliverable, document, or a senior level meeting. In project management, this event is referred to as amilestone. Milestones can add substantial value to project scheduling as they allow project managers to accurately determine whether or not the project is on target, on schedule, and within budget. Project tracking modalities can be as simple as Post-it Notes spread out on the wall, Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Project, or as complex as Earned Value Management.

Time Forecast


Project planning tools are often used to represent the activities, timing of tasks required to complete a project, and the dependencies between activities. These tools demonstrate the interrelationships of how projects, schedules, and other time-sensitive modalities progress over time.

The Gantt chart and the Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) chart are probably the two most recognized time methodologies in project management. PERT was introduced by the U.S. Navy in 1957 to support the development of its Polaris missile program. A similar methodology, the Critical Path Method (CPM) was developed for non-military project management. Each has its own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations, therefore it is not unusual for Project Managers to employ a combination of tools.

Project Closure Process


Project completion is not realized until the acquired knowledge is secured and organized in a way that can benefit future projects. The project management industry standard employs a "critical project closeout phase that collects lessons learned and gives your organization powerful historical knowledge from across the enterprise. A company that can learn and grow, rather than continually repeat mistakes, will move faster." (LaBrosse, 2004) The DTC project closure phase would assess the project first as a whole and second at each milestone. It would evaluate training; methodology, duration, as well as the facilitator's knowledge of the material and ability to answer questions. It would develop plans for further training. It would include a plan to complete any outstanding processes such as ordering decorative accents, name-plates for each office, etcetera. It would conclude with an inventory of lessons learned in order to preserve those processes that were successful and to avoid those that were not. Finally it would disband the team.

Conclusion

The DTC project will have its progress monitored and reported on a regular basis. To effectively monitor progress, relevant and "necessary information needs to be disseminated to various project constituents. Accurate measures need to be developed to track progress." (Kloppenborg, 1999) Organizational fortitude requires a vigilant, agile, and fluid approach to change. A strategic change management process needs to be available for implementation as changes become necessary. To realize the comprehensive business goals of the project, management must plan and communicate the project goals, procedures, time-tables, and desired outcomes. Creating a strategic Communication Plan enables the project to launch successfully, prepare for and mitigate risks, and attain organizational objectives.

Victoria Krayna (c) 2008

References

Kloppenborg, T. & Petrick, J. (1999, June). Leadership in Project Life Cycle and Team Character Development. Project Management Journal. 130 (2) 8.

LaBrosse,M. (2004, November) Project Management in the Real World. Plant Engineering. 58 (11) 2

About the Author

Victoria Krayna BSB/M; MM
Founder/President of Life-staging by Victoria

Life Transformation Coach
Provide individuals with the motivation, determination, and follow-through to catapult themselves into definitive action toward their life's purpose.

Wellness Coach
Perform nutritional assessments of clients, provide dietary instruction and accountability for clients in all phases of weight management.

Executive Coach
Perform Diagnostics, Environmental Analysis, S.W.O.T. Analysis, and Risk Assessments. Prepare & Execute Executive Summary, Strategy Formulation and Implementation, Timetables, and Contingency Plans.

Relationship Coach
Perform personal, partner, and relationship profiles to define problem-areas. Provide guidelines, action steps, time-tables, and accountability for sustainable change.

If you have been placing your focus on real and/or perceived limitations instead of the education, skills, aptitudes, passions and experiences God has gifted you with, then it's time to explore coaching with Victoria. Contact me at [mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ] This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (720) 690-3059.

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