Project Communications Management Tutorial

Project Communications Management

Welcome to the ninth lesson ‘Project Communications Management’ of the CAPM Tutorial, which is a part of the CAPM Certification Course offered by Simplilearn. In this lesson, we will focus on project communications management.

Let us begin with the objectives of this lesson.

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Define communication and Project Communications Management

  • Identify the different communication methods, technology, and channels

  • Explain the elements of a basic communication model

  • Describe the Project Communications Management processes

In the next section, let us take a quick look at the project management process map.

Project Management Process Map

There are 47 processes in project management grouped into ten Knowledge Areas and mapped to five Process Groups. In this lesson, we will look at the seventh knowledge area, i.e., Project Communications Management and its processes. In the next section, let us understand communication.

Communication

Communication can be best defined as a two-way process of exchanging information between two entities.

As you can see in the image above, if the project is an entity, the project needs to communicate with other entities in the organization, like project managers, senior management of the organization, and any other stakeholder of the project.

Similarly, these entities may also have to communicate with the projects. The communication between the project and the stakeholders is always two-sided. The project manager is responsible for ensuring proper communication to and from the project.

In fact, a project manager spends almost 90 percent of his or her time on communication. You can now understand how important it is for a project manager to plan this activity well.

In the next section, let us discuss communication methods.

Communication Methods

Communication can be done in two ways. It can be done written or verbal. Both, written as well as verbal communication can either be formal or informal.

Formal means communicating by following some basic rules, whereas informal means taking a casual approach. These two combinations result in four different communication methods. They are:

  • Formal Written

  • Formal Verbal

  • Informal Written

  • Informal Verbal

Formal written method is used for project management plans, project charter, and over long-distance communication.

Formal verbal method is used during presentations.

Whereas, informal written method is applicable while writing notes or emails.

Informal verbal, on the other hand, is applied during conversations.

You can expect questions in the CAPM exam, which require choosing a communication method for a given situation. So a fair understanding of the communication methods can help you score higher.

In the next section, let us look at the various communication technologies.

Communication Technology

Communication technology refers to the different media used for communicating. A few such technologies are listed below:

  • Telephone

  • Fax

  • Emails

  • Messaging Software

  • Meetings

  • Skype

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Blogger

Among these email, fax, and telephone are few popular communication technologies.

In the next section, let understand the communication channel with the help of an example.

Communication Channels

Communication takes place between four people in a team. The lines across the members represent there can be six unique channel of communication existing within the team. Now, if the team comprises ten members, how many unique channels of communication will be calculated?

You can use the formula:

Number of Communication Channels = n * (n - 1)/2

(N multiplied with N minus 1 and the resulting sum divided by two)

Where N is the total number of people involved in communication.

In this case, N equals to 10. If this is put into the formula, you will get 45 as the result.

Therefore, 45 unique communication channels exist in a team of 10 people. It is difficult to manage such large number of communication channels.

Therefore, it is important to structure communication, otherwise, everyone starts communicating everything to everyone, and it can become a real chaos in the project.

In the CAPM exam, you may be asked to calculate the number of communication channels in a scenario based question. So please make a note of the formula to answer the question correctly.

In the next section, let us discuss the basic communication model.

Basic Communication Model

The process of communication involves several steps. Let us now look at a basic communication model. The sender encodes the message and sends it to the receiver. The receiver should know how to decode the message.

The receiver in turn sends his response, which the sender should know how to decode. Communication happens through a medium and the message may be corrupted at any stage, because of the noise.

Let us look at an example to understand this model.

A Japanese tourist calls up a hotel in Dubai to book a room. When the tourist talks in Japanese, encoding of the message is happening in the Japanese language.

The telephone serves as a medium, but at the receiver’s end, the message is not getting decoded, as the receptionist does not understand Japanese. So is the case in the scenario, wherein the receptionist communicates in Arabic.

However, if both of them communicate in a common language understood by each other, say English, the communication can happen effortlessly. Sometimes, people communicate through their body language. It’s again a kind of encoding and the communication can only happen, if the receiver knows how to interpret it; it is similar to decoding the message.

If a project has communication problems, by analyzing the communication model, you can pinpoint where the problem lies. You can identify, whether the problem is with encoding and decoding or there is a problem with the medium itself.

Let us now understand the different elements of the communication model.

Encode is to translate thoughts or ideas into a language that is understood by others.

Decode is to translate the message back into meaningful thoughts or ideas.

Message is the output of encoding.

Feedback message is the output of encoding. Medium is a communication method to convey the message.

Noise is anything that interferes with the transmission and understanding of the message. Examples include distance and unfamiliar technology.

In the next section, let us discuss project communications management.

Project Communications Management

Project communications management includes the processes required to ensure that information about timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, and ultimate disposition of project is prepared and circulated to all project stakeholders.

It is the responsibility of a project manager to ensure that the information requested by the stakeholder is communicated to them. The frequency at which the information needs to be shared may also vary from stakeholder to stakeholder.

For example, think about a simple process of sharing a project status report with the customer and senior management. This knowledge area explains how it should be done as per PMI.

In the next section, let us discuss the project communications management processes

Project Communication Management Processes

There are three project communications management processes. Each process is carried during different process groups:

  • plan communication management is done during planning process group

  • manage communications is done during executing process group

  • control communications is done during monitoring and controlling process group

In the next few sections, we will cover each of these processes in detail.

Plan Communications Management

The first process in project communications management is designing the communication management plan. It is the process of determining the project stakeholder information needs and defining a communication approach.

Stakeholder register is an important input to this process. It is a list of all the stakeholders. The project management plan has information about a large number of the project's requirements, and the stakeholders who need to receive communication of various kinds—are therefore a critical input to this process.

In addition to these two, organization process assets and enterprise environmental factors are also inputs to this process. Many organizations have standard templates to prepare communication management plan, which is part of the organizational process assets and enterprise environmental factors.

The first technique used in this process is the communication requirements analysis where the communication requirements of each of the stakeholders are analyzed and categorized. In this, you try to find how many of the stakeholders need similar kind of information, which can be grouped together.

If you send information through an email system, all those stakeholders who need similar information can be marked in CC in the email.

Next, you can decide on the communication technology. These days, email is the most widely used technology, but in few cases, you might have to send information using some other technology like fax or registered post.

For example, all government communications are done using registered post to keep a written record. Finally, you need to understand how communication really happens, that is the communication models and the various communication methods used.

You may need to conduct meetings before agreeing on and finalizing the communications management plan. The communications management plan is the primary output of this process, which lays down the procedures around communications in the organization.

Communication management plan has information like which stakeholder needs what kind of information, at what frequency, and how. As a result of this process, some other project documents may also get updated.

There may be questions in the CAPM exam, based on the plan communications management process. So a fair understanding of the process will help you answer such questions correctly. In the next section, let us look into a business scenario to understand this concept better. After reading the problem statement, click the solution button to look at a possible answer.

Manage Communications

Manage communications is the process of creating, collecting, distributing, storing, retrieving, and the ultimate disposition of project information in accordance with the communications management plan. Manage communications is done throughout the project lifecycle.

Everything cannot be planned during communication planning, so manage communications takes care of responding to an unexpected request for information as well. Communications management plan is an important input.

Work performance reports have information regarding project performance and status information. Organizational process assets are the standard templates created for the status report by organizations. In some organizations, there are guidelines for communication distribution.

Enterprise environmental factors are the other inputs to this process. Various tools and techniques are used in this process.

Communications technology represents the means of technology (i.e., email, instant messaging, telephone conferencing, etc.) that are used to exchange information.

The use of Communication models helps you determine the technique that is best suited for a particular situation.

Communication methods are the various methods used to communicate. For example, whether it is interactive or offline, whether the information is being pushed by the provider or pulled by the recipient, etc.

Information management systems help design a framework for managing the information within a project, that is, how it is acquired, where it is stored, and how it is distributed and destroyed.

In Performance reporting, all the information is synthesized in the form of performance reports that are later distributed to the appropriate stakeholders and forms an important part of the communications strategy on a project.

The first and primary output of this process is the communications messages that are generated during the project. The other outputs include project management plan updates, project document updates, and organizational process assets updates.

In the next section, let us discuss control communications process.

Control Communications

Control communications process involves monitoring and controlling the state of communications on the project, checking if it meets the information needs of all the stakeholders, and taking actions to ensure that they are met.

The inputs to this process are the project communications, project management plan, and issue log, which have a list of issues that are raised by different project stakeholders, data related to the work being performed on the project, and various other project documents (which may have to be communicated). Other inputs include work performance data and organizational process assets.

Let us look at the tools and techniques in detail. The information management systems provide tools to collect, consolidate, and present the information in the form of cogent, concise communications. Expertise must be sought from different stakeholders on how you should go about this process.

Several meetings may be needed to ensure the efficiency and efficacy of the communications. The major outputs of this process are the work performance information, which indicates that the work performance data has been analyzed, interpreted, and presented in an easily comprehensible form.

This process may also give rise to change requests, updates to the project management plan, project documents, and organizational process assets.

In the next section, let us look into a business scenario to understand this concept better. After reading the problem statement, click the solution button to look at a possible answer.

Summary

Here is a quick recap of what was covered in this lesson:

  • Communication is a two-way process of transferring information from one entity to another.

  • The four commonly used communication methods are formal written, formal verbal, informal written, and informal verbal.

  • The total number of unique channel of communication can be calculated using the formula: n * (n - 1)/2 i.e., N multiplied with N minus 1 and the resulting sum divided by two.

  • By analyzing the communication model, problems in project communication can be identified.

  • The project manager is responsible for the timely availability of information to all the stakeholders.

  • The three project communications management processes are plan communication management, manage communications, and control communications.

Conclusion

With this, we have come to the end of this lesson. In the next lesson, we will cover project risk management.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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